Over the last decade or so, and especially over the last year, the oral history has become a popular journalistic tool for telling the detailed story behind historical events, from the horse's mouth and such. But in the wee hours of Friday morning, ESPN either parodied the genre or sounded its death knell as Tom Haberstroh published an "oral history" of Tony Parker's game-winning shot in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, which happened to go in mere hours before — and the story of which concerned exactly 0.1 seconds of basketball history.
It was a big shot, to be sure, and it was all anyone could talk about for a few hours and even into today, but an oral history for such a brief instance doesn't, well, it doesn't actually say very much. Take, for instance, Haberstroh's opening:
To some, Haberstroh's post—which, to be fair, isn't exactly a new format for him—was a stroke of brilliance. Others weren't sure if he was making a joke or being serious. And there was a lot of eye-rolling. Because the thing is, when something happens in a matter of moments, with live announcers, and slo-mo, and super-slo-mo, and post-game interviews, and post-game columns, and all the rest, the oral history has kind of already happened. You move on to Game 2. This is enough:
Indeed, oral histories are often best when they take us to a world we aren't a part of. Take, for instance, the one Vulture just published about the comedians at Upright Citizens Brigade. Most of us probably did not know that people like Ed Helms and Amy Poehler were involved in a "giant pool of awkward sexuality." Meanwhile, we all witnessed (or could witness) Parker's shot.
While we love a good oral history, the genre had seen detractors recently. Grantland (which is owned by ESPN) has particularly indulged in the genre. But perhaps this most recent example is a good indication that we should pause, perhaps, before jumping to the format the next time something amazing happens in 24 seconds or less.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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