Thursday, June 20, 2013

Five People Who Do Not Deserve Spurs - Heat Game Seven

Bring It
On the off day between Game Six and Game Seven of an NBA Finals that's so good, even people who don't watch pro hoop are watching pro hoop, there are several classes of people that I'd like to un-invite from the party.

1) Felon Tim Donaghy. Aren't 15 minutes of fame supposed to expire over, what, the decade since this guy went to jail? Seemingly not, at least not if Gawker/Deadspin has anything to say about it. So far, I've been able to resist the urge to read any of these

If today's desire for train wreck clickbait had been in place throughout the ages, would Hal Chase have been commenting on fixes over the decades? Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin on which current players are drunk? Pete Rose for gambling advice, Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry on how to snort... well, enough.

There's no reason to think that anything involved in the NBA Finals isn't on the up and up. The refs have been mostly ignored, which means they've been pretty great. We can all stop paying attention to him now.

2) Pathetic Miami Heat fans. Look, we get that Florida is America's cesspool, the repository of the worst among us, the indirect reason why 9/11 and two wars happened, and the go-to state for every freakish crime story. That's why sinkholes happen there, along with the direct route for hurricanes and flying cockroaches. But for the love of God and country, can you people actually stay in your seats until the game is actually no longer in doubt? Or, failing that, continue to skulk away from the arena in shame and misery, rather than trying to get back in after your unconscionable decision?

I get that the games run late. I get that sitting in traffic, late on a worknight, is really irritating, especially when you have the possibility of stewing in your own juices over a loss. And you paid your money, and this is America, so you get to do what you want.

But for heaven's sake... you are the only people on the planet who got to watch NBA basketball. You were watching the final minute of the year, for a team that had given you three straight Finals appearances. You have the MVP of the league, and the best player of his generation. They had made a ridiculous comeback to get close enough to put the game in doubt. And you... got up and left.

This is the defining moment of your life, but thankfully, you aren't self-conscious enough to realize it. So try, please, not to do it again in Game Seven?

3) Narrative junkies. Flags fly forever, but for the love of math, reality and intellectual complexity that's beyond old-school pro wrestling... just because one team won and one team lost, that does not mean that God's Will Be Done, and the right of Divine Combat has been further affirmed. The Heat did not man up, stay calm, or show grit and an indomitable will; they took advantage of opportunities presented to them by a very good team that, well, gave them just enough daylight to suck out. The Spurs did not choke; they got caught by a supremely talented team that did everything they had to get to overtime, then took advantage of superior legs. And the refs did not force a Game Seven by not making any call you can name, because they clearly had many more opportunities earlier, before the whole thing was on a knife edge.

I get that you people can't just watch the game and be happy without turning it into a soap opera. You know what you'd be happier watching? Soap operas. It's OK to leave sports to the rest of us.

4) ESPN. Speaking of narrative junkies, this was an actual topic of "debate" the morning before Game Six: Should Gregg Popovich rest his starters? At which point you have to have to seriously wonder whether or not, despite Congressional gridlock, if there is any way we can get bipartisan agreement to revoke their broadcast license, or just place anyone involved into Gitmo for a few corrective weeks. It would help heal us, as a nation.

5) Haters. I don't care if the Spurs have bored you in the past (and, well, they have; those Finals against the Pistons were utterly unwatchable), or that their Benetton Nation of Floppers makes your skin crawl. I don't care if you think the Heat are flopping dirtbags (and, well, they are, though at least the second part hasn't been so bad this series), or that the way they built their team is a threat to the nation. My own personal Dream Finals would have somehow had the Warriors in it, and they'd be beating the Heat in a David v. Goliath underdog beatdown for the ages. Also, Mark Jackson would have somehow stopped being the Dub coach. Anyway, I digress.

This might be the best NBA Finals ever, and while that sounds like hyperbole, it's really not. Most of the time, the Finals validates a clearly better team; this year, there isn't one. So I'd judge this series to be right up there with the Barkley Suns vs. the Jordan Bulls, or the Payton Kemp Sonics vs. the Jordan Bulls, or the Moses Erving Sixers vs. the Crushed Lakers, because that series convinced me that my team doesn't always have to lose. Those are the ones that come to mind when I think Great Finals, and this one is right up there, despite only two of the games being close in the last minutes.

So if you can't watch tomorrow night without telling me how happy you are that someone lost because you hate hate hate them so much... well, better to remain quiet and be thought a fool, rather than open your mouth and remove all doubt. History will not be with you, that Good Triumphed and Evil Failed. One great team will win, and one great team will lose. An unconscionable number of players and personnel involved are eventually going to the Hall of Fame. (The list: James, Dwayne Wade, Ray Allen, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Gregg Popovich, Pat Riley.) You'll be seeing documentaries and highlights from this one for decades. And all of that is good, and correct, and as it should be, because these teams play beautiful basketball against each other, and with luck, will inspire more and more of it.

Tip off in 20 hours, last game for 4 months, one you might remember for the rest of your days. Let's hope it's worth it.

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