Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Suns-Spurs: Wild Idea

[Update: Two hours after I posted this, the news came down that Stoudemire and Diaw are indeed suspended for Game Five. I expect outrage, disbelief, the phrase "letter of the law" to appear in approximately 14,000 columns, and for this ridiculous rule to trump anything else that happens in the NBA playoffs. But I stand by the points below ... except, obviously, the one that links to Steve Kerr's column and deals with Duncan and Bowen, as it just became irrelevent.]

This is the kind of random, insane idea that only comes from getting too little sleep ... but what if an Amare suspension might actually be good for the Suns?

Crazy, right? But consider the following (some of these are a stretch, so be prepared):

1. Game Five will be played on emotion, in front of a "surging" (Bill Walton voice, again) home crowd. What could possibly get people more fired up than feeling wronged by a crappy NBA rule? The place would be rocking. I can see Raja Bell having a huge game in this kind of environment, since he seemss to really feed off of crowd energy (for or against). The crowd might be able to lift Barbosa back into form as well.

2. Kurt Thomas has to be on the floor as much as possible for Phoenix to win. I've been saying this since Game One and don't plan on letting up. He knows how to make Duncan work and is doing a great job of it. He is pouring in that 15-foot jumper. He leads, he motivates, he actually acknowledges when he commits a foul. And with no Amare or Diaw, the Suns can just play Thomas based on fatigue and foul trouble, rather than concerning themselves with egos and rotations. It will be just all-Thomas and all-Marion, all the time. (With a little James Jones sprinkled in.)

3. Human nature can be a mighty tough opponent. The Spurs are experienced and have been through countless battles, so I highly doubt they will ever get too high (unless they are hanging out with Ricky Williams) or too low. But when the other team loses a first-team All-NBA player, you can't help but experience a subconscious shift. Any such shift will be offset by the fact that San Antonio is playing on the road and coming off a tough loss, but perhaps what might have been a razor sharp San Antonio tenacity will instead just be their usual focus.

4. In the ongoing "who will get the calls?" subplot (which probably doesn't determine the outcome, but certainly becomes a factor), there was reason to suspect that the Spurs might get a little "make up" action after being on the short end in the fourth quarter of Game Three. Now though, perhaps the officials will feel sorry for the short-handed Suns. I highly doubt that there is a collective memory strong enough to bring forth either of these results, but you never know.

5. It seems there is a chance that if Amare and Diaw are suspended, then Duncan and Bowen must/will be as well. The latter left the bench on that weird Francisco Elson dunk entanglement (where the Flying Dutchman appeared to get undercut purely because he hung on the rim to avoid being undercut - just a really weird play) earlier in the game and would seem to be subject to the same "letter of the law" rules. And as good as Amare as, this would be a win for the Suns.

6. Then, there is the X-Factor that goes to motivation and confidence and all the other mental factors that mold playoff games. It seems that losing Amare could provide Phoenix with a built-in excuse if they lost. I'm not referring to the fans being given license to complain all summer, but rather the Suns playing with a freedom that comes with being an underdog and from being unburdened of expectations. As of this moment, the Suns are expecting to win the title and anything less is a failure and a possible cause for panic in the offseason. But if you take away Stoudemire, suddenly they have more of a "what do we have to lose?" attitude. This could work the other way, of course, and they could lose that bit of confidence that comes from knowing that they WILL win, which is probably what got them over the top in Game Four. But you never know; feeling like their best chance to win it all has been undermined by a dumb league rule might loosen them up. The old "you can't lose something that has already been taken away" viewpoint.


Bill said...

Nice try. I don't mean that in a sarcastic way, I mean it really is a solid effort to put a positive spin on a total travesty. This is a new low for the NBA. Stern spends all his time putting in age limits and dress codes, yet his own stupid rules are ruining the product on the court. At least Amare will look nice in his suit and tie on the bench! What a joke. I couldn't hate the NBA anymore right now. Now is the time for a rival basketball league. Put a team in Vegas, absorb a few Euroleague teams, get rid of the BS, and take advantage of all the talent out there. I know the ABA failed, but a rival pro league would work now, I am convinced. Stern is completely out of control and out of touch. And in love with himself, I might add.

Seriously, lets get Cuban and a couple of Next Generation owners and start the revolution. Who needs Stern and his garbage.

Arnold said...

This rule is so unbelievably stupid. The NBA just lost all credibility. This would be like Mariano Rivera being suspended for a World Series game for running in from the bullpen during a charge-the-mound situation. Oh wait, the Yankees don't play World Series games anymore. But you get the idea.

Anonymous said...

Yankees suck!

Anonymous said...

as a suns fan I feel like someone kicked me in the balls, raped my child, and killed my wife all in front of me. I feel the NBA is now more corrupt then boxing now and i am honestly not sure if i can ever watch again.

Anonymous said...

I'm shocked that Kerr point didn't get more traction. He was totally right about the letter of the law. If the threshold isn't instigation, then Duncan was just as guilty. I'm so confused.

Is the NBA really going to say that if you go 7 feet it is okay, but 20-25 feet isn't? Holy s***.

Concerned Citizen said...

Raping your child? Wow.

It's just a basketball game, bro. Of course, once you make that disclaimer, this is about the worst thing that can happen to your favorite team.

But still ... that was a little over the top. Please don't do anything rash tonight, my friend!

Anonymous said...

I have been watching the NBA since I was 12, 20 years later I have slowly grown to hate the game I used to love. Whatever happened to justice. This is like a cop who gives you a ticket for not coming to a complete stop at an intersection in the middle of the night, with no other traffic on the road.

Houston Single Guy said...

When did the Spurs get branded as the dirtiest team in the NBA? I will tell you when… when Phoenix lost the first game and then went down 2-1. Why are sportswriters jumping on this story like Bill Walton jumping on the bandwagon for the winning team? Because it gives them something to write about other than that the Spurs are a classy organization, winners, humble etc. Yes, you are a Suns fan and can taste the championship banner or you hate the Spurs because they win or are boring or etc etc etc. The real logic is that because “everyone states” that the Spurs are dirty then it is a truth. At one point “everyone” stated that the world was flat too. So imagine the immoral outrage that those whose passion is for the Spurs to lose this series feel because of officiating, suspensions and conspiracy… then take of the bias binders and look at reality.

Was Pop supposed to come out and state that his guy was the second coming of the anti-Christ for hip checking Nash?! Hell no. Steve Nash the golden boy… he is so classy, such a winner, such an MVP. He is… but it still does not make Horry a “dirty” player. Nor are the Spurs dirty. If you want to see dirty, watch NBA classics and see the Detroit Pistons of the late 80’s and early 90’s. However, the league suspended him for 2 games for fouling the “golden boy” of the NBA who does not know how to play D and has won goose egg in championships. We can argue was it deserved. Fact is that Nash is giving up a lot of weight and height to Horry… who collided with Nash at angle that sent him flying. Seriously, one would have expected that Horry’s forearm was wrapped in tape with a steel bar underneath. Hell yeah he hip checked Nash and he deserves to be suspended because the Suns shy away from contact.

The suspension for leaving the bench and entering the court is bad for the series. However, this happened to the Miami Heat against the Knicks in the playoffs so if you are a Sun’s fan… realize this is not the first time this has happened to anyone. Feel sick to your stomach, express emotional and immoral outrage… but wake up. I hated the Bulls because they got all the calls, the officiating love and Jordan could do no wrong (except for Space Jam but that was off the court). The Laker’s with Kobe and Shaq, they got all the calls. Reality is that they were also good… people grow weary of winners. Understand, but put things into perspective. Diaw and Amare have really not played that well. What are the odds that Raja Bell picks up a flagrant 2 in tonight’s game?! My guess is that he is going to clothesline Manu. Of course, he was pretty easy going with the elbows on Monday night, really. If you are a Sun’s fan asking for penance for Amare and Diaw but begging for Horry’s head… watch Raja Bell’s actions tonight…

It is a good rule because the NBA worries endlessly about the perception of its players. The reason is that unlike other sports whose players’ faces are covered by masks/helmets (hockey and football) or when they are not are mostly non-giant men (baseball and nascar- does nascar count?), the NBA is courtside, intimate in your face. The players are large men who have had to deal with the ramifications of the Rudy T fight punch. Not to mention the league is mostly populated minorities. It is a product sold to suburban America and corporations. Fights, altercations are not desired. Thus the NBA has a zero tolerance policy.

BTW, anyone who puts credibility into what Steve Kerr has to say better consider this. Steve Kerr is a paid consultant of the Phoenix Suns. His role is not to participate in contract negations but to advise ownership. In fact, he was part of the contingent from the Suns who visited Nash in Dallas with the goal of convincing him to sign with Phoenix. So, using Kerr’s example of Duncan stepping on the court is perhaps what freshman English defines as “a bad source.”

Reality, this sucks for the series because the series will have a taint. This taint is bad for the league and for watching it. Fans will worry more about officiating, bad rules, what is fair, unfair treatment and the validity of championship. Of course, this just gives the sportswriters more ammunition for stories. Who wants to read about the same boring good guy Spurs winning another NBA Championship? But vilification of course makes the Spur’s more interesting to the casual fans. The NBA fans never bought the Spurs as “good guys” but as “villains” they may prove more interesting. The way they never flinch, remain stoic in interviews, they do not give good sound bites and rarely show passion. Heck, this sounds like Ivan Drago from Rocky IV! Are they the team that people will rally around to watch lose!? Uh oh, for the conspiracy theorists out there this means that the Spurs may become watchable and people may TUNE INTO watch them play in the finals. Does that mean increased ratings? Bad news for the Suns… if the conspiracy theory/dirty Spurs/unfair officiating theories hold true then the NBA would want them in the finals to face the hero Lebron.