The San Antonio Spurs have proved again that good team play and extreme luck is the foundation to move to the NBA Finals. Last year with Tim Duncan hobbling on a bad foot, they were ousted by Dallas. But this season they were rewarded with an abundance of good fortune.
In Game 1 against the Suns, Steve Nash goes down with a cut nose with three minutes to go. Game 4 Robert Horry gets a flagrant on Steve Nash and thus forces a reaction from Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw. They get suspended for Game 5.
In the Conference Finals, they draw Utah when they thought they would have to go through Phoenix and Dallas. Then Utah, after gaining momentum with a Game 3 victory, had to battle first a stomach virus from Deron Williams and then Williams sprains his foot and struggled in Game 5. To top it off, Derek Fisher did not show up until half time of Game 5 because he was in New York tending to his daughter, who is battling an eye disease.
San Antonio probably still could have won each series, but lady luck has sure been on their side this postseason.
WHINING AND FLOPPING
I am so tired of the flopping and complaining that has taken the NBA by storm. It seems like every time an official blows his whistle he has to explain himself or the cameras catch the facial expression of a player. When does a player commit a foul and then turn and get ready for the next play or better yet when does a player make a mistake and it’s his fault and he just points the finger at himself and play on?
NBA players promote how big and strong they are, but yet a little bit of contact and they fall. I like the added circle under the basket for deciding charging calls, but the players are now using it to get constant charging fouls. Also you have jump shooters falling and flailing every time they take a contested shot. That’s one reason why we don’t see a lot of three-point plays on jump shots any more – because players lose their concentration in trying to fake like they have been fouled.
Here are my top whiners and floppers left in the playoffs.
Rasheed Wallace: If I was an official, I swear I would see a therapist before every game I officiated with Wallace playing. He not only complains about calls against him but teammates as well. Heck, I even saw him dispute a call against the other team one time! He is a wonderful person off the court and extremely courteous. But man, during a game he is never happy. In Game 6 he got the benefit of the doubt when he blatantly fouled LeBron late in the game, but went ballistic when Anderson Varejao contested his shot late in the second overtime.
Tim Duncan: I swear he is going to cry before his career is over during a game after a call on him. He grabs his head and folds his arms and reminds me of a little boy that just got caught but says, “I didn’t do it”. I understand why Joey Crawford tossed him earlier in the year for laughing on the bench. He got so used to him frowning and giving him a hard time on the court he couldn’t stand to see him enjoying himself on the bench.
Manu Ginobili: This guy really irks me. I have never seen a player that plays so physical on one end of the court and then turns around on the offensive end and acts like someone is doing cruel things to him. I am beginning to think that either he thinks Americans are not capable of analyzing a situation or that he is David Copperfield and creates illusions. He complains virtually on every call and just like most international players he looks to the coaches and fans as if to say, "Why is he picking on me?" I played in Europe and I saw this behavior from players every game.
Tayshaun Prince: I know some of you might think this is a surprise, but watch him. He has something to say after every call and his expression is equal to Duncan's. He threw the ball away late in Game 5 along the baseline and complained like it was someone else's fault. Heck, even after he scores a basket he has something to say to a teammate about something he didn’t or should do. They say he does not talk much off the court, but his expressions and verbal rants during games could be why.
Anderson Varejao: First let me say I love this guy. I thoroughly enjoy his energy and wild hair swinging all over the place, but he should never complain about any whistle called on him. “What did I do?” is his favorite response. Well, let me see... You grabbed his jersey, pulled him into you and fell like you where hit and run over by a train. He probably fouled Rasheed Wallace late in Game 5, but I think this guy fouls every time he guards someone.
Manu Ginobili: Reminds me so much of Sarunas Marciulionis, who played for Golden State years ago. I used to go into a game against Sarunas saying that I would use two fouls on him and I made sure they hurt. He would play what I called "karate ball". He would fly into you and flail his feet and arms, thus kicking you in the shin and slapping you in the face. I told him one time that every foul I commit on him was revenge. I look at Manu the same way. This guy just beats you up. Then falls. He is so lucky he did not play in the 80s. He would have looked like a boxer back then with the fouls guys would have put on him to justify his flopping.
Anderson Varejao: I played golf last week and we had biting flies in the area. This is what he reminds me of. Sometimes you get so mad you want to kill every fly you see. I believe before his career is over he will have fallen more than 30 players combined. Does he think officials are stupid? Sometimes I wonder because he falls like he got hit by a car doing 100 mph. Rasheed Wallace big shot in Game 2 was made easier because he bailed out on the play. Mike Brown I am sure has reminded him that officials in the NBA for the most part allow the players to win the game and flopping will not be rewarded.
Bruce Bowen: Bruce has a look that says “Why is everyone picking on me?” He guards you extremely close and reacts like he did not do anything when a player tries to remove him from inside his jersey. He reacts with the movements of someone who has been violated. The advantage I give Bowen is that he keeps the same facial expression. He is like “What? I am just doing my job and he is mad because of it, Mr. Official."
Richard Hamilton: Rip has taken a page from Reggie Miller although Reggie never fell after jump shots as much as Hamilton. I know he tries to get everyone feeling sorry for him because he looks frail running around the court. Please, Hamilton is the best conditioned player on the floor and pound for pound extremely strong. He just gives you the look that someone is doing something to him and he also uses the mask as a crutch to show that his nose is vulnerable.
Game 5 was the best performance I have seen in a long time. I have always said good offense will overcome good defense and last night was great offense. The key to it all was LeBron’s ability to knock down shots. It forced Detroit to extend their defense and that is when he is at his best. He was in a zone and 29 points later it was over. I have said this before and I will say it again: If he gets that jumper going on a more consistent basis (like he has in the last few games), he is virtually unguardable and only then is the league his kingdom. Last night, he was on the highest throne and the Pistons have their back up against a huge wall in Game 6. The Cavaliers remember last year. With Detroit having those old legs, I sense they will suffer the consequences and lose Game 6.