Somebody Ought to Make an Effort Here

First off, if you haven’t yet read today’s earlier posts by DLIC and Burns please immediately scroll down and do so. I hate posting over them, but in a few hours the time to say this will have passed.

Now for some pleasantries before I indulge my inner-Mark Cuban. I spent the last week helping the kid sister move from Pomona College, which is, coincidentally, the first program ever helmed by Greg Popovich. I was without internet during this time, deprived of my beloved FreeDarko. I missed all of you.

This is where it gets ugly.

The Spurs will win tonight and they will win this series*. They will win because they have more grit and heart than the Mavericks. They will win because they are tough and the Mavs are not. I know that you’ve been led to believe otherwise. I know that you’ve been told that these Mavs are different than the old Mavs, but in the famed words of Papa Bear O’Reilly, “I’m not buying it.”

Four times in this series the Mavericks have possessed the ball in the final 15 seconds of the game in score or go home situations. In Game 1, Stackhouse panicked and got himself trapped in the corner before forcing up a shot that barely grazed the front of the rim. In Game 5, Jason Terry harmlessly lofted an air ball. These are the Mavs we’ve grown to know. The Mavs who collapse under pressure and forget that an intentionally missed free throw must at least draw iron. The Mavs who lose their composure and throw groin punches in key moments.

Unfortunately, you didn’t get a chance to see these Mavs when Games 3 and 4 hung in the balance. In Game 3 the Mavs were awarded 16 free throws, including the game winner, in the final six minutes. In Game 4 the Spurs held a two-point lead in the final 10 seconds. Presumably the Mavs would have to hit a big shot or at least attempt one, right? Nope. Dirk backed down Bowen and before he could even take a shot was awarded the free throws that sent the game into overtime. Bowen, aka Master Bruce, was showing his palms the entire time. I defy anyone to tell me this is a foul in the first quarter in December, much less in the last 10 seconds in May.

Perhaps this sounds like whining. Maybe it is, but I’ve read that whining breeds success. Besides, I tried to bite my tongue on this, I really did. But after Cuban and Avery insisted on playing the victim card in the wake of Game 5, I’m compelled to complain on behalf of my beloved Spurs since Pop refuses to. Cuban’s complaints about the JET suspension demonstrate a level of audacity not seen this side of the Bush administration, as the Mavs have been the beneficiary of every conceivable break in this series. To wit:

-Stern admitted the league made a mistake in scheduling the start of this series a mere 35 hours after the Spurs finished off the Kings in Sacramento. Think there’s any chance El Commish would’ve confessed this had the Spurs lost Game 1? Wouldn’t that be tantamount to admitting the league had given the Mavs a competitive advantage? And while the Spurs gutted that game out, they clearly had nothing left for Game 2 when the fresh, young Dallas legs ran them out in the series’ lone blow out (I had the misfortune of attending this game. On the bright side, I got to join 18,000 people in a “JAVIE SUCKS” chant, so I can at least cross that off my list of lifetime goals.)

-Dirk attempted 24 free throws in Game 3. Am I the only one who’s a little uneasy about a fade-away jump shooter getting to the line 24 times?

-The Spurs had to finish Game 3 without Duncan after Dirk stepped on his foot. In the final six minutes of the game the Mavericks made a whopping two field goals. Fortunately for them they also made 15 free throws during these final 6 minutes.

-The Spurs had to play the last 7 minutes (OT included) of Game 4 without Ginobili.

Admittedly, all of this would be irrelevant if Duncan is able to hit that hook at the end of regulation in Game 4. But that’s the point: baskets in the final ten seconds SHOULD be difficult. They should be earned, not gift-wrapped. We're surprised when Lebron is able to get layups in crunchtime. The ability to thrive in those fateful moments and produce hard fought buckets is what separates champs from contenders. Whistles should be swallowed for all but the most overt hack. And if you think this has anything to do with sheer Spur homerism, please recall that I also whole-heartedly supported the no-call when Bibby stripped Ginobili to set up Kev Mart’s memorable finish and that I complained about the cheap foul that set up Anthony Johnson’s game winning freebies in Game 1 of Nets-Pacers. The playoffs should be decided by the players, not by the refs, and most certainly not by Mark Cuban.

Now Cuban wants to claim that the poor Mavericks are being unfairly punished. Not only does he insist that Terry didn’t throw a punch despite the presence of conclusive video evidence to the contrary, but he claims the dastardly Finley delivered a “pile-driver” which prompted Terry’s non-punch. Somehow I missed Fin’s pile-driver. I also missed Ginobili’s guillotine leg drop and Bowen’s power bomb.

A punch is a punch is a punch. Especially when it’s a cock-punch.

And I’m absolutely convinced that this is something JET picked up from time spent with Bone Crusher.

Tonight, in a demonstration of true Dallas class, you’ll witness the entire American Airlines crowd booing Michael Finley. Finley, despite the eight good seasons he gave to Dallas and the significant role he played in turning perennial losers into constant contenders will be booed for two reasons. He will be booed because he was cut by a team he wanted to end his career with. He will be booed because his former teammate punched him in the sack.

Finley deserves better than this. He’s too solid, too professional, too Chicago.

I long ago came to terms with the fact that most of the media and the ENTIRE FUCKING BLOGOSPHERE hate the Spurs and continually root for their demise. Fine. Root for the Mavs. Root for another month of Mark Cuban making himself the center of attention. Root for a free throw exhibition, root for a German, root for Hasselhoff, root for cock-punching. But from the top of the Tower of the Americas, I proudly scream FREE MIKE FINLEY.

*Prediction null and void in the event that Javie, Joey Crawford or Jack Nies are involved.


At 5/19/2006 9:57 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

-don't expect a post from me till sunday, maybe. my life is on hold.

-the pistons did not play like champions. billups almost tipping it in for cleveland pretty much sums up what i think of the "professionalism" they showed. the cavs are better than we thought, but the pistons just made a ton of rookie mistakes.

-lebron can't guard tayshaun

-basketball goes back to being dead for me if lebron can't pull this out

-the only good part of this whole night was when arenas expressed his unyielding admiration for marquis daniels in the pre-pre-game

-i am going to the drugstore, will maybe watch the second half.

At 5/19/2006 9:58 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

oh, and where are the accusations that a certain MVP candidate disappeared for most of this crucial game?

At 5/19/2006 10:47 PM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...


great post. i must say, i had pretty much suceeded in creating an artifical bond with the Mavs while I patiently await NYK2025, but this post - especially the part about Finley - has managed to drown those affections in a river of shame. and i mean that as a compliment.

At 5/19/2006 11:30 PM, Blogger Brickowski said...

Cuban on Finley: "He's just another guy who used to play here." And what's with Dirk telling the fans to boo Finley? Is that a joke or do they actually have beef?

Fouls at the half:
Duncan 3
Manu 3
Bruce 3

Dirk 0

Let them play! Let them play!

At 5/19/2006 11:40 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

The Headbutt.

game over.

At 5/20/2006 12:44 AM, Blogger mutoni said...

three game 7's.
two are foregone conclusions (Detroit and San Antonio at home).

The only unknown (aka the only interesting game) is the Clips-Suns game 7.

The more things change (underdogs like Kobe & Lebron seemingly on the verge of pulling off the impossible), the more they stay the same (Detroit vs Spurs in the 2k6 Finals AGAIN!)

It was fun while it lasted, though. Can't deny that.

At 5/20/2006 12:56 AM, Blogger Brickowski said...

nothing is a foregone conclusion in this series. JET will return and the Mavs will play knowing their season is on the line (though i'm not sure if that will make them better or worse).

but if we do get Spurs-Pistons, well, boo-fucking-hoo. we're forced to watch the two best teams of the era battle again after their fantastic 7 game series last year. how awful.

At 5/20/2006 1:25 AM, Blogger mutoni said...

i think one of the biggest problems with a pistons/spurs finals is the lack of overall charisma. it's not like when the celtics and lakers would meet in the finals in the 80s, that was HUGE (athletically and culturally speaking); pistons/spurs lacks something-mostly, the cultural significance part. on neither team will you find a transcendent performer, or any semblance of charisma (sheed is interesting-if not annoying); everyone involved in that series draws a collective shrug from the masses.

i don't mind one of those two teams being in the finals, but not both; i couldn't see myself tuning in any earlier than game 5 (much like last year, and thank fucking god i did!).

At 5/20/2006 1:53 AM, Anonymous mtp said...

Dirk said in an interview at a practice-type-setting (mental image; can't find the video right now) that he was joking about the finley thing, and that he didn't think people were actually going to do it. He went on to compliment Finley, but that's probably to be expected.

To Brick: all your ink about dallas' dubious victories thus far is vaild, but if you want professionalism/hard work/balance, check dirk's 21 reb, 5 assist performance tonight.

At 5/20/2006 1:54 AM, Blogger Mirabeau Lamar said...

A Spurs/Pistons rematch will be rewarding only to those who appreciate the art of the game, at least in the first four bouts. I realize that a repeat of last year's finals is the least FD thing imaginable, save a Kaman v. Ilgouskis (sp) showdown, but it will truly be an epic struggle. To those who value the ghettofabulous hoops world of never-to-be-actualized potential: they can play out the Amare v. LeBron Finals while they masturbate to thoughts of a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace accord. Oh wait, that's not fucking likely. Great teams always trump great players. Unless the two happen to coexist.

At 5/20/2006 2:09 AM, Anonymous jack said...

How is a Kaman vs Ilgauskas showdown unfreedarko? I'd love to see that, it's like pitting a scorpion against a praying mantis in a glass jar (focus on awkward insect movements, not lethality of the bugs). The only thing I want more than a Dwayde-Lebran series at this point is a for the Clippers in the championships. I don't care who the clippers have to beat, I just feel like LA (the city) leads the league (of cities) in cindarella, see Angels 2003, Ducks 2004, UCLA 2006, current Ducks, Clips, and it's a great itme to be from Los Angeles.

At 5/20/2006 3:16 AM, Blogger stonecoldlampin said...

-unprofessional? try "i didn't even know we had a timeout until after the game"

-best press conference moment was rasheed's snot rocket post game

At 5/20/2006 7:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

dude, a scorpion would demolish a praying mantis in a fight, that's not even fair.

At 5/20/2006 8:21 AM, Anonymous mtp said...

Spurs/Pistons has little resonance with art, and much more with chess. Or math. Or possibly with putting the square peg in the square hole.

Also, I would say the talents of Amare & Lebron have been reasonably-fucking-actualized. The staggering thing is that there is still possibly more to come.

At 5/20/2006 10:13 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

whether or not lebron knew they had a timeout, i had no problem with that final possession. the pistons had made it clear that they could seriously fuck with the cavs' inboundsing, lebron saw flip close to open in the corner and figured he'd gallop down the floor, draw all the defenders, and kick it out to the already psuedo-open man. not ideal, but it's not like it's worse than what they might've done with a time-out.

At 5/20/2006 2:15 PM, Anonymous aug said...

With calling timeouts at the end of the game, whether it was a good or bad call always depends on the outcome. It's a tough call to make and depends on your team and the team you're playing against. Call a timeout and you and the defense get a chance to prepare. Don't and neither of you have a set plan. It's about even whether you do or not. I've seen teams praised and grilled for calling/not calling a TO at the end of games. Usually if you have a great player(lebron) or a really disciplined well tuned team(pistons, although this series has us questioning) i'd say don't call one because it's more stress on the defense.

At 5/20/2006 4:12 PM, Blogger T. said...

Let's go Sagehens! *clap, clap, clapclapclap*

At 5/20/2006 4:46 PM, Blogger ~CW~ said...

I don't think LeBron "galloped" down the floor at the end of the game last night. Either call time-out or get your ass down the floor, but you have to do one of them.

While Spurs/Pistons would be a purist's dream (again), I think it would kill any sort of momentum these playoffs have gained, much like their series last year killed the buzz built up by the Pistons/Lakers series. Pistons/Mavericks? Exciting in the contrast. Spurs/Heat? Equally interesting, although very unFD. Pistons/Spurs? Been there, done that.

At 5/21/2006 1:04 AM, Anonymous Mr. Six said...

Pistons-Spurs last year was so obviously unwatchable that I didn't.

I'd like to be able to watch the finals this year.

At 5/21/2006 1:44 AM, Anonymous johnny5 said...

Give me a Finals of unknown quantities, not of the well-oiled machines. As a Phoenician, I can't endorse the Clippers... and I am sick of hearing of Clipper Nation as if it wasn't just liberated from the tyranny of Jerry Buss/Evil Sterling. But LeBron! Wade! Even that menacing Kraut! I want a battle of wills, not methodical execution.

That said, Finley has been wronged, and he deserves better from the franchise he gave his best years to.


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