The Agenda

"That's why we don't feed the dog people food."

"No, I love YOU more."

The parade of Eastern Conference losers marketing cell phone companies is but a brief intermission in what I will finally admit is one of the most competitive, if not the most well-played Finals series in quite some time. Regardless of who wins, the best Finals' teams never have this many missed free throws (Heat), stars getting outshined by supporting cast (Mavs), questionable defenders in the starting lineup (Heat), or difficulty making use of a 2-0 series lead (Mavs). It still appears that neither team is committed to going for the throat. Dwyane Wade is trying to do too much and amazingly succeeding most of the time. Shaq is exhausted, just begging for the double-teams to come over so he doesn't have to try to make quick moves to the basket. Jason Terry is the most important player in the series and I am crying racism if Dirk wins Finals MVP, no matter what happens for the rest of the series.

I'm not really sure there's much more to say than what Bethlehem Shoals has already spit at you in neon over the past few weeks.

No less than eight times before halftime did I hear Avery Johnson "extolled" for moving the Mavericks from downtown Miami to Ft. Lauderdale, completely reinforcing the point that I have made 1000 times about the New NBA being an association that preaches asceticism as a way to a better life. The players were moved away from vacation-like "distractions" and were forced to take roommates instead of having rooms to themselves. As Stuart Scott informed me, Dirk, unaware of this plan, initially moved the two beds in his room together. Darrell Armstrong walked in shortly after, Dirk referred to him as "black college" (Fayetteville State) and the two spent the rest of their time together watching soccer and listening to German rap music. Now that sounds boring as fuck. If the Mavs win tonight, expect the hotel move to be given more credit than Jason Terry, one of the most single(offense)-minded players in the league, who has been more of a joy to watch than any other player in these playoffs.


At 6/19/2006 12:33 AM, Blogger the_glide said...

i keep wondering why miami fans would chant, we want ben, we want ben?

At 6/19/2006 12:41 AM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

i would just like to add that the heat won in SPITE of shaq tonight. he was awful, particularly with regard to missing defensive rebounds or tipping them to mavericks. his 12 rebounds don't accurately represent how poorly he did on the boards. his defense was slightly below average and he absolutely got outworked on dirk's last shot as well as on the dampier dunk at the end of regulation. whatever. dallas has got game six and i dont even have to watch it.

At 6/19/2006 12:48 AM, Anonymous nitro said...

What was that foul at the end of overtime?? Wade was amazing at the end of the game, but that was a bailout call. From the replays, it looked like he split the two defenders with very little contact.

At 6/19/2006 2:53 AM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

Right you are, Nitro. As you can see clearly in this animated gif, if there was any contact it was extremely minimal, and not the kind that normally would warrant the refs deciding that an OT Finals game should be decided by sending Wade to the line to win or lose it for his team (and break the Finals record for FTs in the process). But there should have been controversy even before it got to that point, as you can see in this video that Wade committed a backcourt violation on the inbounds of that play. I'm mystified as to how the refs can call it so tight as to put Wade on the line to win it after they just allowed him to carry the ball from the frontcourt into the backcourt not three feet from a ref who was looking right at him. Combine these events with the fact that Stackhouse was out on a very questionable suspension and the fact that Miami shot 24 more free throws than Dallas and it might be time to call Ralph Nader.

At 6/19/2006 2:58 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

wait, i haven't asked that same question about the wallace commercial? i think it twice every time i see it. EVERY TIME.

it's true, i didn't see a second of the game. i would've liked it if the mavs had won, though the kind of frustration i'm feeling probably means i still think they could yet win this thing. and only makes me so annoyed that i was stuck in the air for the duration.

At 6/19/2006 4:02 AM, Blogger stonecoldlampin said...

as long as the refs are being questioned i'd like to discuss moving picks. i too missed the game...but check out the highlight real on nba.com. every possession on the real features a blatant moving screen. watch it.

At 6/19/2006 7:59 AM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

hopefully, i don't sound like a deluded carolina fan when i say this, but if stackhouse had played last night, the mavs would've won. they needed someone to step up and score the ball when dirk couldn't get it done. terry and howard were great, but a little stack would've put them over the top. also, i can't believe the league suspended him for that foul. that was just a hard foul, barely a flagrant 1 in my book. the league has gone soft.

At 6/19/2006 8:48 AM, Anonymous Bernard Snow said...

Is there anything more pointless and unpleasant than post-game free-throw-disparity kvetching? I mean, how many of these people even watched the game? Are there specific calls they would dispute ("Oh man, that away-from-the-play foul that we intentionally committed was a fucking joke!"), or is this just the lazy outrage of those whose bullshit is so nutrient-rich it can fertilize even in the cracked and barren landscape of numbers? I have no patience for the baying of boors, who furrow their brows in confusion at the hack-a-Shaq's knowing wink. And even beyond that, Dwayne Wade is a penetration machine who draws more fouls than an overworked court stenographer with front-row tickets (fuck, where'd all my good metaphors go?!), of-fucking-course his team is gonna get to the line more.

(this venting is directed less at Yams and more at the comments on the Youtube video he linked, which contain a representative sample of all the things that I despise in this world)

WV: oyqwg, which is exactly what I would've said if not for the fact that I already have one "use of Yiddish by a non-jew" violation to my name and it's not even 9 AM yet

At 6/19/2006 10:16 AM, Anonymous J.E. Skeets said...

I believe Rudy T said it best: “Never underestimate the heart of a team who has a creepy, mustachioed black man in sunglasses to help pump you up.”

At 6/19/2006 11:23 AM, Blogger Rocco Chappelle said...

I really wanted to feign some sort of personal outrage about Wade’s phantom foul, his back court violation, and his extended elbow, push-off on his squatted double-clutch lay- up type thing toward the end of regulation. But as a Sixers devotee, I’ve exulted in the litany of bullshit calls that Iverson has gotten away with over the years. We all know that suspect shit happens with stars, especially at the end of games. We all accept it for those we advocate. Wade took-the-fuck-over in the 4th and OT. Did he have a little help from the officials? Yes, but without the help the feat would have gone unaccomplished. So that’s good enough for me. It wasn’t a great game but it was a dynamite experience.

At 6/19/2006 12:27 PM, Anonymous Ragtime said...

-Jordan's pushoff on Byron Russell in '98
-LBJ's walk vs. the Wizards in OT
-Wade's backcourt violation and questionable foul

As much as people will say that these
"superstar calls" are unfair (and they are), they are evidence that it is a game of style, of persuasion. The refs in these moments lose some degree of their objectivity and become believers, unwilling to kill a heroic effort because of a technicality. Incidentally, this is why the NBA will never adopt instant replay (the courtroom DNA test of sports), as in addition to dragging out games, these magnificent triumphs of individual will, such as Wade's last night, would be far less frequent. And I'm not trying to bolster the conspiracy argument at all by saying that.

Had the backcourt violation been called (which would have been absolutely reasonable), the headlines this morning could just as easily have read: "Wade's Blunder" instead of "Howard's Miscue". The fact that such such epic battles are decided by vague, ambiguous interpretations of well-defined rules, and that the game really could have gone either way causes uncomfortableness manifesting as frustration for those fans who want a definitive, concise answer to the question: Who is better, Dallas or Miami?

At 6/19/2006 12:43 PM, Anonymous Mr. Six said...

Every watchable thing that Terry does is obliterated from my memory by the ensuing imitation of a child pretending to be some form of aircraft, converting his otherwise convincing offensive virtuosity into corny unwatchability.

Questionable calls potentially change the outcome of a professional sports contest? This is unprecendented!

And Stack playing well enough that people are willing to argue that he could have changed the outcome of a pivotal finals game continues to irritate me. He should be suspended until he invents a time machine, travels back to 1996, and learns to play with AI.

At 6/19/2006 1:46 PM, Blogger bayaz said...

Um, doesn't the fact that the refs bailed Wade out at the end obliterate whatever claims he might have to a "magnificent triumph of individual will" ? If he'd made the shot, yes, but as is, it was the magnificent triumph of the bullshit call.

At 6/19/2006 1:48 PM, Blogger the_glide said...

Ragtime said:The fact that such such epic battles are decided by vague, ambiguous interpretations of well-defined rules, and that the game really could have gone either way causes uncomfortableness manifesting as frustration for those fans who want a definitive, concise answer to the question: Who is better, Dallas or Miami?

Perfectly said. And I suppose the Lig would say this is the reason why it's best-of-seven.

Final scores aside, we know now, after five games, that Wade is the best player in this series, that JET and Josh are as important to Dallas as Dirk (in this series), that there is no obvious winner to the coaching battle, and that Shaq is hardly Superman anymore. Dallas is winning the uptempo game, yet they continue to hack, which might be working against their need for speed. Miami as a unit does nothing great; their hope rests in Wade's hands alone.

If I'm judging the Finals for a winner the way an olympic judge determines a winner in gymnastics or ice skating, I'd be hard-pressed to say one team looked better than the other. Wade, w/o his team, looks better than the best of Dallas. in that one regard I'd be forced to award Miami the crown. and if this is to happen, how fitting that Shaq would receive his 4th LOB thanks to a player like Wade who won't turn on his greatness until the 4th quarter. Wade has truly learned from the master; who needs an mvp when you can win the Finals mvp?

At 6/19/2006 1:53 PM, Blogger T. said...

this issue over unfair ref advantages gets awfully close to nba conspiracy talk. and anyone who believes in that. . .Spurs/Pistons? Lakers losing in 5 games? yeah I don't think the NBA would do that. They would've had Yao and TMac winning last year too.

Are there unfair superstar calls? Yeah, Magic charged over everyeone who tried to play defense against him. But it doesn't always go the way of the league's golden boys. Yao never ever gets any calls. Ever. And if there were cause to have a Stern-led conspiracy, I think allowing Yao to play more than 32 minutes a game might be the start. China is now the second most important nation for the Lig. It won't do to have their star sitting that much.

At 6/19/2006 2:26 PM, Blogger Captain Caveman said...

It's about time somebody brought Houston into the Finals discussion.

WV: ggqski, the next big Euro star for the NBA.

At 6/19/2006 2:32 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i still stand by some version of what i said about lebron last month: the greats earn the right to bend the rules. holding them to a higher standard would just be weird, and it's not like any of these players are dependent on "superstar calls" to be as fantastic as they are. it's a perpetual state of "let them play," since if anyone's going to stop them, they have to do it as men, not pawns of a system.

however, this only really applies to actions they take: travels, carries, charges, etc. being fouled by someone doesn't really fit this model. it's ridiculous to suggest that someone like wade could only miss if he's fouled. and since skilled defense and unskilled hacking can be hard to distinguish, you can't pull out a merit-based argument.

it really must come down to knowing the player, being familiar with his game, and judging whether it's been egregiously altered by a defender. and if the defender isn't himself a stud, assuming that this must mean a wrong has been committed.

At 6/19/2006 5:58 PM, Anonymous nitro said...

Under the rules, does Miami need to put out five players on the floor? It would have been pretty awesome if they had just had Wade an an inbounder for their last possession.

At 6/19/2006 7:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don’t remember a team fucking choking as much. This was unbelievable!
Josh Howard, that was actually funny. Before Dirk's last shot over Shaq, he literally started panicking and threw the ball away as if he was a little girl being attacked by the dogs. Fuck him and his screwed up leg. And what the hell was the time out about. And ever FTs... make at least one for fucks sake!
Terry, he didn’t do one thing at the end, and by that I mean 4th and OT. Fuck. Who said he was important!
And fucking... well that’s it. Other played ok. Dirk made some shots, Harris was ok... fuck.
And that was just the last part of the game. What about the fucking rest of it. So many times Dallas just threw the ball away, lost stupid rebound when 2 players fought for the ball or just... argh.

Or was it only that I really wanted Dallas to win! Shit.

Ah, life is hard

At 6/19/2006 8:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

and btw dallas needs to completely stop double teaming shaq. just start the 6th game with double team, and then never do it again. and foul him!
and!!! if wade has it going, please get the ball out of his hands with a quick double team trap kinda thing. please. even if one of the old fucking people pretending to play with him makes a shot or even a cocksucking two.
thats it.

i think dal wins in 7

At 6/19/2006 8:55 PM, Anonymous Mrs. Siovaughn Wade said...

Will I ever get any camera time? Ever? Why do they hide me so? My husband crashes to the ground every goddamn play and they can't give me one cutaway shot? Am I really as unfortunate-looking as everyone says?

At 6/19/2006 9:34 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

girl next door done got made over, dropped some pounds, stared the scalpel right in the face:

College sweethearts

At 6/19/2006 11:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Technically it was a foul. You can't shove your hips into the path of someone on the drive and you can't put your hand on their back. Personally, I think that it was the fact that Wade was flat out and Dirk was playing the lasiest D I've ever seen in the final seconds. The ref feels obliged to reward the person making the effort. If Nowitiski was going to stand off for the block there was no reason to put his hand on Wades back as that opens him to being called for a push. Doesn't take much when you are in the air to move you off your line.

I'm glad Miami won, too much moaning from a team that thought they were going to shit it in. If you hold on to your leads and win by 30 calls don't matter. If you choke it up you leave yourself open to bad calls, and everyone, refs included, is more likely to favour the person coming back that the one choking.

At 6/20/2006 2:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

while it's fashionable to accuse the stars of getting preferential treatment (i'm actually a believer of this), Wade's supposed backcourt violation is unfortunately not an example of this. why? simply because it's allowed in the rule book.

Rule No. 8 Section III e:
Any ball out-of-bounds in a team's frontcourt or at the midcourt line cannot be passed into the backcourt. On all backcourt and midcourt violations, the ball shall be awarded to the opposing team at the midcourt line, and must be passed into the frontcourt.
EXCEPTION: During the last two minutes of the fourth period and/or any overtime period, the ball may be passed anywhere (frontcourt or backcourt) on the court.

so with 10 secs left in OT, Wade didn't commit any backcourt violation.

also, the foul call on Dirk was very ticky tacky but Devin Harris definitely fouled Wade.

now back to your regularly scheduled Wade-hating.

At 6/20/2006 2:28 AM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

To that last anonymous poster, sorry kid, that dog won't hunt. I don't think anyone is disputing whether the Heat had the right to inbound the ball from the frontcourt to the backcourt. That is common knowledge and anyone with more than a passing understanding of the rules of the NBA would be aware that play is legal. What has caused all the outcry over this clear backcourt violation was that Wade received the ball while still in the frontcourt and then jumped into the backcourt. While the rules allow the person throwing the ball in to throw it to someone in the backcourt, the rules do not allow any player with the ball in the frontcourt to simply take the ball across halfcourt back into the backcourt. That's a backcourt violation at any point in any game. Wade did not establish himself in the backcourt and received the ball in the frontcourt just as he was leaping off with his left foot to get across the halfcourt line. By doing that he went over and back after Payton inbounded the ball, and that is why it is a backcourt violation. Do not get confused that people were thinking it's not legal for Payton to throw it to Wade in the backcourt, because nobody is making that claim or voicing that complaint. Those of us upset with the call were surprised the ref standing right next to Wade allowed him to carry the ball, by himself, from the frontcourt to the backcourt. Hope that clears up the confusion.

At 6/20/2006 8:33 AM, Anonymous bernard snow said...

well, it looked to me like he caught it in midair, but I can definitely see why some think his foot was down. this is just one of those cases where I'm going to defer to the judgment of the "ref standing right next to Wade" and assume that he had a better view of Wade's feet than I did.


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