2011 NHL, NBA Playoffs: Why Panic Never Pays

Justin SwiderskiSenior Analyst IMay 11, 2011

DALLAS, TX - MAY 06:  Guard Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts during a 98-92 loss against the Dallas Mavericks in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 6, 2011 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The San Jose Sharks have blown a 3-0 series lead to the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The question I've heard asked in more than one article is whether or not it's time for the Sharks to panic.

I'd like to answer that question with another question: When is it ever time to panic?

Sportswriters love wondering about "panic time." When should a team "hit the panic button?" But isn't panicking counterproductive? Aren't teams that triumph over long odds always talking about how they never panicked? I don't understand why a writer would suggest panic as a solution.

When I'm being unproductive at work, I never force myself to have a panic attack. Panic attacks are terrifying. I don't get work done when I'm paralyzed by fear. I tend to assume the same is true for professional athletes. Voluntarily panicking will likely never produce positive results.

Yet at least one writer wondered if the Sharks should have been panicking after losing Game 2 of their first-round series to the L.A. Kings. I suppose the Sharks must have done a great job of panicking their way to a 4-2 series win, and then a 3-0 lead over the Wings. Did the Sharks stop panicking over the past three games? I can't blame them; that level of anxiety is exhausting to keep up.

Meanwhile, NBA writers have been suggesting teams panic all season. John Hollinger thought panic time was upon the Lakers as early as December 1. Others thought the Lakers could wait until losing Game 1 of the NBA Playoffs to the New Orleans Hornets for panic mode to set in. Still, the most patient amongst us allowed the Lakers to wait until they trailed 3-0 to the Mavericks to panic.

The irony is, the Lakers probably did panic, and lost in embarrassing fashion.

While writers have debated the appropriate time and level of panic for the Spurs, Knicks and especially the Heat this year, the strange thing is that I've yet to read an article about the team that panicked successfully.

That's because it doesn't happen. The panic pandemic is solely a creation of sportswriters, many of them too panicked about their deadline to come up with an insightful angle.

Unless it's about the Boston Red Sox. It's apparently panic time year-round for that team.