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I’m pissed off.
And this has nothing to do with Amanda Beard and Playboy.
- I’m pissed about the NBA Finals. Everything about it. I’m pissed that Lebron hasn’t shown the decisive drive-first aggression that he was on the brink of unleashing after the Detroit series. (Which would have made the Finals ten times better than it is right now.) I’m pissed I have to watch five unemotional Cavs flounder in the wake of an efficient Spurs team that is, and I must emphasize this: VERY BEATABLE.
Plus, I’m not happy about my prediction right now.
-I’m pissed that a very beatable Spurs team is on cruise control, hardly showing the effort and yet running away with two easy victories. Let me tell you, the only thing that enthused me about the game yesterday was the moment when Carefree Robert Horry checked into the game, and immediately got bored. He got so bored that he decided to start blocking shots. Then he got bored of that (after 5 blocks) and started making Magic-level passes to his teammates. Then THEY got bored and started making those passes to each other.
I thought the next step was balloon animals and a dunk tank with Jacque Vaughn in it. (VIPs get to stand closer.)
Under any other circumstances, I would be enthralled over the production coming out of San Antonio. But imagine this: you are watching a pickup game down at the YMCA. The local JV team, on a break from their 10-15 season, are beating up on the nearby middle school’s kids. The kids are playing their hearts out, but hell, they’re three years younger. Even with the best camaraderie and the most harmonious offense, they could hardly compete with the JV squad. And don’t let any Sprite commercial tell you different.
Yes, San Antonio, you’re bigger, taller, more mature. You are better basketball players. But you have nothing to be proud of. With a better counterpart, you could be so much more. So why the eff should I keep watching while the Sopranos are on?
Let me state this clearly: I am pissed because we aren’t seeing the best out of the Spurs, and it’s winning them games. I don’t know if I want them to win by 50 points or to lose.
But right now, a max-effort Spurs team is far from a TV screen near you.
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-I'm pissed because I'm actually bitching about the NBA Finals. Do you know how long and how hard I have argued that this is the mecca, the absolute pinacle of sports achievement?
So, how have we been bastardized thus? I mean, we're beginning to fall to PGA golf, NASCAR, even hockey.
There is no easy fix here, either. I've always claimed that the beauty of basketball lies in the fact that on any given day, any team can beat any other team on the floor (later added: as long as they are both professional basketball teams, and, you know, do it for a living.) However, a great majority of the time, the better team wins. Thus, more in any other sport, the champion in the NBA will be the best team at that time. In a seven game series, no team lucks out unless there was really talent there to begin with.
Quick, name any other sport that can claim that.
Football? No. One game, relatively low score, luck can happen.
Baseball? Hells no. Different pitchers each day, making Game 6 much more crucial than Game 5. Plus, with low scores comes a greater chance of one error costing the game.
Hockey? The lowest of the low score average. USA defeats Russia. Do you believe in miracles? Yes, in stupid hockey, where the goalie sneezes and the game is done.
(Sorry hockey fans. That game is more about strategic fighting, which has its time and place, and can be enjoyed in the right light. But there's a reason there's a freaking cage around both an ice rink and a K1 fight.)
All that being said, then why is it actually painful to keep the TV on during this series?
I'm at a loss. And that's why I'm pissed.
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This begs the question: what makes a good, watchable, enjoyable series?
Here is my criteria, as I was thinking about it on the toilet earlier today. (My best thinking place...c'mon you all agree with me.)
1. A test must be imposed upon a team, and it must pass this test. This is by far the most important. This occurs when a team has played countless games together. They understands the capabilities and tendencies of each other, to the point where they can tell what their teammates will do even before they do it (the first level of greatness.) Then, in the face of adversity by a team they are over-matched against, they gel into a collective intelligence (the second level.) During this, you can see them maneuver accordingly on the court, and without speaking instantly know where to go, what to do, and what the right play to make is. During this time, open shots are NEVER missed, and fouls, strangely enough, are never called.
In this mode, it’s a coronation: they unite and overcome, so flawlessly that the opponents can’t even be mad at them. They are just in awe of the beauty of perfect cohesive basketball, which is the most beautiful and awe-inspiring moment in all of sports.
Occurred: 2002 Celtics against Nets (game 6), 2002 Lakers against Kings (game 4), 2000 Lakers against Portland (game 7), 1992 Bulls against Portland (game 2), 1980 Lakers against 76ers (game 6). Write in if you can think of others.
2. It doesn’t have to go seven games, but it has to be close in each one. As long as there’s drama at the end of each game, I will feel like the whole of the series was somehow more important. This is especially true if the last shot in one of the games determines the victor of the series. Think Jazz/Houston of 1997, with Stockton hitting that huge three at the end to push them to the finals. Great series, and that was Game 6.
Occurred: 2002 Lakers against Kings, 1999 Knicks against Heat, 1993 Bulls against Suns, 1997 Jazz against Houston, 1989 Pistons against Bulls, 1988 Bulls against Cavs.
3. Two figureheads playing at their very best. This is how the legends are made. Whenever Barkley, Olajuwon, Magic, Bird, Jordan, Iverson, Shaq, or any other larger-than-life superstar has the chance to best another superstar, this dictates how they are held in the public eye for years, even decades.
Other factors exist. But c’mon, without these three, you have nothing to watch. And here’s the reason why this year does not live up to these standards.
1. Neither team is passing a test. Cavs are playing sub-par, Spurs are hardly playing. Yay for Spurs fans, booo for everyone else.
2. Two ten-plus point blowouts. That’ll get those ratings up.
3. Neither Duncan nor Lebron are playing their best basketball.
Honestly, I dare to see you argue these points.
Double dog dare you.
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Aaaand finally, I’m pissed that San Antonio couldn’t sell out their own stadium for the NBA Finals. Muster up some damn city pride, San Antonio. Come to think of it, are there even 17,000 people IN that city?
Gotta love Spurs basketball. See you in a few days. Yew see it.