Suns-Spurs Suspension Mania! OK, so I appreciate that it was the Spurs' Robert Horry who was the instigator of the Game 4 game-ending goonery.
And I appreciate that it was the "victimized" Suns who got obliterated by the NBA's Game 5 suspensions for Amare and Boris Diaw.
And I appreciate that the NBA's ruling effectively guts
And I appreciate that, consequently, the NBA's decision could cost the Suns the series.
And I appreciate that it could ultimately hurt the NBA itself (if you believe, as I do, that the Suns' style of play represents one of the only things that might slow down the NBA's otherwise inevitable decline from the legacy of its "star system.")
And yet... it's one of the easiest rules to remember (and follow) in the NBA: In the event of an on-court scuffle, don't leave the bench.
It's pretty simple, really. It's not like anyone thinks the rule itself is a dumb one. What I'm hearing is that people think that rules (and punishments) should be applied selectively. That, of course, generally defeats the purpose of rules. (Judging "intent" is a brutal game that the NBA will almost always lose.)
Expediency is a tempting reason to ignore the rule, but it also ultimately undermines the integrity of the game more than ruining the Suns' chances of toppling the Spurs.
If you want to blame someone, don't blame the NBA, which had little choice. Blame the players, who made the wrong choice. I don't care that their leader was brutalized by an opposing player. Be SMART about it: Don't leave the bench; deliver some on-court payback later in the game (or, if that's not possible, the next game). And be sure that it's a bench player doing it, not the team's all-NBA big man or most versatile player.
Besides: I wouldn't write the Suns off for Game 5 just yet. Combined with the home-court hype, being forced to be innovative -- a Mike D'Antoni specialty -- might befuddle the Spurs.
And watch out for the NBA to ensure officiating that "balances" out the negative p.r. from suspending Amare and Diaw. In fact, between tactical novelty, home-court hysterics and sympathetic officiating, I'll take the Suns to win.P.S.: I want to point you to my friend and fellow blogger Henry Abbott at True Hoop, who develops and delivers the most reasoned (and influential) wisdom on all things NBA. Start with this most recent post. Then this one, which came earlier. UPDATE: Here's a post today, even better.
P.P.S.: Aha...the inevitable hedge. It's not that I don't see the reasoning of those who disagree with the ruling or who point out the NBA's own inconsistencies in its application. It's just that the most direct responsibility can be laid at the feet -- literally -- of the two players who broke the simple rule, despite (I assume) knowing all about it and the potential risks involved.
It's the end for the Warriors and the three weeks of mania they inspired from their die-hard fan base and NBA fans everywhere who craved something... different.
The team's mercurial style was behind its win AND its loss: Those wins against the Mavs were inspired; last night's ugliness was not.
But hopefully, it will inspire other teams to try to be more creative – and raise expectations among fans everywhere that despite roster limitations, innovative coaching can turn freaks into a funhouse ride.
Bulls crush Pistons in
Lance Berkman says the Home Run Title is "tainted" if Bonds earned it. I wonder how Berkman feels about his boy, Jeff Bagwell and his 449 home runs, many of which helped Berkman's Astros immensely. I'm not accusing, I'm just saying...
MLB Stud, Player: Jesse Litch, who made his MLB debut on his dad's birthday and went 8.2 IP, allowing 1 ER and 4 H. (Thanks to reader RL for the nomination.)
MLB Stud, Team: The Devil Rays, who played their first game at
MLB Dud: Lastings Milledge (aka "L Millz"), for joining in on a misogynistic rap song titled "Bend Ya Knees."
Clemens Watch: Will the Yankees have Clemens pitch before the end of May, side-stepping a possible Rocket debut at Fenway?
(While I would appreciate avoiding the media hysteria around THAT one, it seems like it would deny us one of the more dramatic moments of the season.)
Indy 500: The Fan-Unfriendly Move of the Year goes to the Colts. The team won't let No. 18 driver Jimmy Kite paint his car Colts blue colors with the words "Go Colts." But they'll let Peyton Manning be the race's official starter. I mean, for gosh sakes: It's the
Speaking of NFL problems, Tank Johnson meets with Roget Goodell today. Cue ominous horror-thriller music...
In more positive NFL news, Jon Kitna loves Calvin Johnson. But really, though: Who wouldn't? (Oh, perhaps someone who thinks his name is "Charles," not "Calvin.")
NASCAR: Dale Earnhardt Jr was docked 100 points and his crew chief was suspended for cheating. It's a nice reminder that the outrage standard for cheating in, say, auto racing (and – cough – the NFL) is so much higher than in baseball. Imagine the brouhaha if the greatest player in baseball was busted for (or even simply accused of) cheating. Oh, wait...
College hoops: Patrick Patterson, the last remaining uncommitted top prep player, will make his college choice today at a press conference at 3:45. He's down to
Video Games: A new version of Tecmo Bowl is being released in 2008. Reminds me of one of my favorite T-shirts of all time, courtesy of No Mas.