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.