One more thing while we're here: Nash's supporting cast, even without Amare Stoudemire, is better than everyone thinks.I'll discuss the relative quality of Nash's supporting cast in the following paragraphs. But isn't it interesting how average to mediocre players look really good when they're on a team with great players who know how and when to get them the ball? Back in the late 90s, when the Utah Jazz made back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals, experts and analysts were effusive in their praise of guys like Bryon Russell, Shandon Anderson, and Howard Eisley. These guys were never top-tier players. They weren't even middle-tier players. Playing with John Stockton and Karl Malone made them look much better than they actually were, a fact that became quite obvious when they left the Jazz to take on bigger roles on other teams. I could make a laundry list of the so-so players that looked great playing with guys like Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and so on. But I'm sure you get the point.
Shawn Marion is a top-25 guy in his prime.There's no denying that. But then, so is Kevin Garnett. And Paul Pierce. And Tracy McGrady. Most NBA General Managers (and fantasy team managers) would take all three of those guys ahead of Marion in a mock draft. But having incredible talent, and putting up big-time numbers, doesn't necessarily equate to winning (hence those three guys got an early vacation this year). Marion isn't a leader. He's a solid "numbers guy." He's actually a lot like Elton Brand in that regard. Notice how Brand has been a 20/10 guy his entire career, but only got noticed (and became an MVP candidate) this season...when he was finally teamed with a competent point guard/floor leader (Sam Cassell)? And lest we forget, Kevin Garnett won his MVP and made his only significant post-season run when teamed with Cassell. One of the saddest facts in professional sports is that gaudy statistics mean much more to people than leadership. You can watch highlights of a 360 dunk, and you can look at a box score and see somebody's 20/10 line. But you can't measure leadership and inspiration. Marion doesn't give that. Nash does.
Raja Bell is the evolutionary Bruce Bowen.So he's the "evolved" version of a guy with career averages of 6 points and 3 rebounds a game? Woo hoo. The reality is, he was a kicked away by a lottery team (Utah) that didn't see the worth in re-signing him. And don't forget: Bell was the replacement for Joe Johnson, and everybody was forecasting doom and gloom for Phoenix. In fact, many people openly scoffed at the Bell signing. Now Bell is Mr. Amazing. He had career highs in every major statistical category, but that's because of Mike D'Antoni's system and Nash's distribution, not because Bell is an "elite" player. I guarantee he wouldn't be this good if he was on, say, the Lakers.
Is that so? Because Atlanta wasn't exactly committing homicide to hold on to him last summer. The guy was averaging 4 points (on 42 percent shooting) and 2 rebounds last year, and he was considered a disappointment. The Hawks were more than happy to ship him off as part of the Joe Johnson trade. And it wasn't a straight-up, man-for-man transaction either. The Suns also got two future first round draft picks and a $6 million trade exception. That's how "valuable" Diaw was. Now he's playing with Nash in an up-tempo system and he's getting 13 (on 52 percent shooting) and 6. And those aren't "great" (i.e., max contract) numbers. He's playing very well in the playoffs, and now Simmons is talking about him making The Leap. This is the same Sports Guy who's usually very skeptical of guys raising their stock with some bigtime playoff performances. You know, Greg Ostertag did the same thing in '97. I'm just sayin'.
Every team in the NBA would kill to have Boris Diaw, who can play four positions and doesn't need the ball to be effective; he's only 23 and getting better by the week. (He's a mortal lock for my annual top-40 trade value list this summer, by the way.)
Say what you want about Thomas, but there are only a handful of forwards who can post up little guys, shoot 3s over big guys and guard both types of players. (If he hadn't been such a dog for the past nine years, he'd be in line for a $50 million contract after the playoffs.)The Bulls thought so much of Tim Thomas they wouldn't even play him, despite a notoriously weak front line. And by the way, other teams weren't exactly beating down the Bulls' door to work out a trade for Thomas. Nobody wanted to touch him until Chicago ate his contract. As for the 26 games he played for Phoenix...well, 11 points and 4.9 rebounds a game aren't exactly all-world numbers. The fact is, he's a "big man" who can't play defense (0.3 blocks per game in nine seasons) or hit the boards (his 4.9 rebounding average with the Suns is a career high). He played really well for the Bucks in the playoffs one year, got the big contract, then loafed through the next several seasons. The Knicks were happy to dump him and the Bulls didn't even want him on the court. He fits in Phoenix because he likes to hang back and shoot jumpers, which is what they do. He gets open shots because Nash penetrates and kicks it out to him. He doesn't work anywhere else. Hell, Simmons even said he's been a dog for nine years! How do you praise and insult someone simultaneously?
And Leandro Barbosa is the most underrated player in the league -- he scores on everybody, heats right up off the bench (no small feat), plays both guard positions, carries the offense for quarters at a time...and he's only 23. You're looking at this generation's Vinnie Johnson at the very least.Barbosa looks great...on Phoenix. I promise you, his scoring output maxes out at 10-12 PPG on any other team other than the Suns (unless he gets carte blanche on a lottery team, ala Joe Johnson). He rarely plays point guard anymore, and D'Antoni is terrified to leave him in the point position for very long. He scores on a lot of quick slashes to the hoop on fast breaks and by hitting 44 percent of his threes. He's a system player. He'll starve if he leaves Phoenix. Or if Nash leaves/retires/dies.
Here's the point: Maybe the Suns only go six deep, but they're all elite players who mesh perfectly together...What kind of Bizarro World does Bill Simmons live on?! Boris Diaw, Leandro Barbosa, Raja Bell, and Tim Thomas are "elite players"?! Is tha some kind of sick joke? I don't remember ever seeing these guys on an All-Star ballot, let alone on the team itself. Elite players...psssht!! Not even close, Bill. I agree that they work very well in D'Antoni's offensive system, but they "mesh perfectly together" only because Nash is the glue that binds them.
...and they have a world-class coach who gives his players the freedom to ad-lib (like when Thomas audibled out of the set play and passed to Diaw for Wednesday's game-winner).Mike D'Antoni is a world-class coach? I must have missed that memo. Forget about the fact that he's never won an NBA title -- the yardstick by which coaching "greatness" is typically measured -- let's look at his pre-Nash coaching record. He coached the Denver Nuggets for 50 games during the 1998 season, and he turned in a 14-36 record. In 2003, he took over a Suns team that was 8-13, and they went 21-40 the rest of the way (from five games under .500 to 19 games under .500...be still my heart). That was a team with not one but two certified 20/10 guys (Marion and Stoudemire), by the way. They add Steve Nash the next season and go from 29 wins to 62. 'Nuff said. D'Antoni has a good system, and the horses to run it, but Nash makes that system work.
I still think the Clippers should have beaten them, and I'll always wonder what would have happened if Odom pulled down that rebound in Game 6 in the Lakers series...Magic Johnson and the rest of the '84 Lakers still think they should have beaten the Celtics that season. To this day, it still bugs the living shit out of Magic and crew. And if not for a few turnovers and a couple missed free-throws, the Lakers would have swept that series instead of losing it in seven. So you can cry sour grapes all you want. But in the end, one team wins and one team loses. Saying one team "should have beaten" another is the most meaningless statement in sports. And you, Mr. Simmons, always cry "foul" when the Colts claim they were the "better team" and "should have beaten" New England, or Pittsburg, or whoever. Now you're doing it. Hypocrite.
What about how Nash can't play defense? How do you defend Nash on that one?It's pretty easy, actually. I decided to do a little research into Nash's defense. I've already noted that Smush Parker was horrible against him, and Cassell wasn't all that great either. But, according to some, Parker was just in a slump and the Suns used team defense against Cassell. Fine. Well, I decided to see how Tony Parker fared against Nash this season. Parker averaged a career high 19 points per game on 54.8 percent shooting. The kid was dynamite. Against Nash he had games of 19 (8-for-18), 18 (9-for-19), 29 (12-for-21), and 13 (5-for-11). So he had one game well below his average, two games at around his average, and one above average game. Only once did he shoot 50 percent or better; his percentage fell into the 40s for the other three games (a dramtic drop). You'd think a guy who scores almost 20 points per game on 55 percent shooting would have been lighting Nash up, particularly if Nash is as bad a defensive player as everyone maintains.
What do you have to say about the fact that Nash has been unbelievably un-clutch this playoffs?I say you should try watching the games before saying stupid things. Facing elimination against the Lakers in Game 6 at L.A., Nash scored 32 points (including a huge three-pointer with 50 seconds to go) and dished out 13 assists. The Suns won that game in overtime. Nash hit the go-ahead bucket with under 10 seconds to beat the Clippers in Game 3 of that series. He then almost single-handedly closed the Clips out in Game 7, with 29 points and 11 assists. Less than 48 hours later, he dropped 27 and 16 on the Mavericks -- in Dallas -- and the Suns stole Game 1. And in case you didn't watch that game, the Suns were down 9 in the fourth quarter when Nash scored 10 straight points and then dished for another two (on a sick dunk by Marion) as the Suns took the lead. That one-man 10-point run, by the way, included two gut-check three-pointers and a ridiculous off-the-top-of-the-glass drive against the 7-foot Dirk Nowitzki (who fouled him without a call, by the way). There's your clutch play, son.
I think he's hit one big shot (against the clippers) so far but other than that, the dude has been nutting up in crunch time.See above.
His two infamous turnovers against the Lakers in game 4?I posted video and pictorial evidence that Luke Walton's foot was clearly out of bounds when he supposedly tied Nash up (thus forcing the second of the two turnovers you're referring to). And he was fouled. And he was calling timeout. Two refs were standing right there to see it. It was a totally bogus. The only thing "infamous" about that turnover was the home cooking that caused it.
How he short armed that WIDE OPEN, game tying three from the corner (which Tim Effing Thomas eventually hit about 10 seconds later) against the Lakers in Game 6? His two turnovers late in the pivotal game 5 against the Clippers? Sure you could argue that it doesn't matter because they won both those series. But in the discussion about Nash's personal performance, it can't be ignored.In your rush to criticize Nash and point out his shortcomings, not only are you ignoring his accomplishments (which I've discussed in short above), you're ignoring some of the "un-clutch" performances of the other MVP candidates during this year's playoffs. Kobe had two games with seven turnovers, and of course his infamous 3-shot second half against the Suns in Game 7. Lebron coughed the ball up seven times in the Cavaliers 2-point loss to the Pistons in Game 6 of that series (he also shot 8-for-20). Lebron was 11-for-24 in Game 7 and the Pistons blew the Cavs out. Dirk Nowitzki scored only 11 points (on 3-for-13 shooting) the other night and Phoenix blew the Mavericks out. According to 82games.com, Kobe is 7-for-28 in "clutch shots" over the past three seasons. Everybody remembers the seven shots he hit, but what about the 21 shots he missed? During the same period, Nash was only 1-for-8 in clutch shots, but he had 6 clutch assists. Kobe had zero clutch assists, by the way.
And this has nothing to do with the MVP discussion. I just wanted you to realize that Nash has choked on several occassions this post season and has been picked up by his teammates in very, very important junctures.Seriously dude...so what? The same can be said of every clutch player who ever lived. Remember when John Havlicek stole the ball to save Game 7 of the 1965 Eastern Conference Finals? He only had to do that because Bill Russell, the 5-time MVP (and he was MVP in 1965), the 11-time world champion, had just thrown the ball away and given the Philidelphia 76ers a chance to take the game. As far as I know, nobody took back Russell's MVP because his teammates had to bail him out after he choked. It's a team game, my friend. Teammates help each other. And considering the fact that Nash spends most of his time making his teammates better...well, they owe him one.
Rog: I love it when white people put down white athletes and say and do things in a manner that a black person would do them. I saw plenty of this behavior in college. As a non-Anglo, it amuses the hell out of me. It's like some type of bizarre self-hatred and sociological affirmative action rolled into one big mess. Bill Simmons: One Jive Turkey!Most people -- and this definitely includes basketball analysts -- are more impressed by speed, power, and sheer athleticism than anything else. That's why many people don't remember just how great Larry Bird really was. When you see Bird on a highlight film, it's usually one of his patented step-back jumpers or a slick (but fundamentally sound) pass. You don't see him flying around the court and dunking the ball. So how could he have been great?
Anonymous: one, let's not use the postseason to justify who won the MVP. last i checked it was awarded for the regular season.Indeed it is. And since Nash won the MVP award in the regular season, I guess my argument was moot. But he has been MVP-like in the post-season as well, leading his team to victory when other MVP candidates have not.
Anonymous: When exactly did Simmons claim to be an unbiased expert? I must have missed it...You're right. He's biased (particularly toward Boston-based teams) and lets everyone know it. However, he has claimed that his personal biases do not affect his ability to rationally and accurately assess the sports he covers. That's just not true. When he develops a beef against someone, he becomes almost entirely incapable of judging that person solely by their merits and ability.
Laura: first, let me say that this was a great smackdown of bill simmons.Thanks.
Second, i agree with anonymous that you shouldn't use the postseason to justify the mvp award.And, in all fairness, so do I.
third, i love steve nash and i love his politics. but i think the regular season mvp should have gone to either dirk nowitzki or lebron james. i think part of the reason nash is doing so well is because of the rule changes stern made and because d'antoni is such a great coach. the system nash is in is conducive to the new rule changes, so that explains nash's increased success.
A lot of the anti-Nash sentiment comes from the "Mike D'Antoni is such a great coach" contingent. But is he really? I mean, he coached Denver to a 14-36 record in 1998. He was 21-40 in his first season with Phoenix, despite having two legitimate 20/10 guys on the roster (Marion and Stoudimire). So his pre-Nash coaching record was 36-76. Then he teams up with Mr. MVP and wins 62 games. There's no question that D'Antoni chose the perfect system for his personnel. But the whole "great coach" sentiment is either overstated or unproven.
As for the rule changes, those were put into effect this year. They were not in effect last season when the Suns won 62 games and Nash got his first MVP. His scoring was up three points per game, but that was due more to Stoudemire being out (giving him additional scoring responsibility) than any rule changes. He attempted 40 more freethrows this year, sure, but he also took over 100 more shots than the previous season. He also shot better from the field and the line. Nash isn't an athletic 2-guard. Those are the guys who really benefited from the rule changes. Guys like Kobe, Lebron, Paul Pierce.
I don't agree that Lebron was more deserving of MVP than Nash. The Suns were a better team in a better conference. Now Dirk, on the other hand, that I might agree with. And that dude has been absolute dynamite in the playoffs. I mean, his rebounding numbers have been through the roof. He's MVP of the playoffs so far.
i'm not saying that nash should give back his mvp. i'm just saying that no way he's on the same level as a player as tim duncan, magic, bird, and jordan, who all won back to back mvps. there are other players who are better overall players than him who never won an mvp, much less back to back.No, I wouldn't put nash in the Bird/Jordan/Magic category just yet. And yes, there are better players who never won an MVP. But nonetheless, last year he joined a team that had won 29 games, and a coach with a career 36-76 record, and made it a 62-win team. Then, when that very same team lost several key components (Quentin Richardson, Joe Johnson, and Paul Shirley) and Stoudimire went down for the season, the Suns still managed to win 53 games. And Nash made castoffs like Kurt Thomas, Boris Diaw, Raja Bell, and Tim Thomas look like fantastic players. No one else even wanted those guys. Nash has taken them to the Western Conference Finals. Would you compare Marion/Bell/Diaw to Pippen/Grant/Paxon? Or Pippen/Rodman/Harper? Or McHale/Parish/Johnson/Ainge? Or Kareem/Worthy/Wilkes?
shaq hasn't won back to back mvps--and he's a greater player than nash, even though his game is clearly going down. why is that? is nash at his best anywhere near shaq's game at his best? yet nash is the one with 2 mvps.Shaq has no one to blame for his lack of MVPs but himself. The Diesel lost out on several MVPs because 1) he misses about 20 games a season with minor (re: questionable) injuries, 2) he usually coasts through the regular season, saving his best for the playoffs (when he inevitably shines), and finally 3) because he would often show up to training camp overweight and use the regular season as his personal weight loss program. He once had surgery right before the season started because he didn't want to miss out on any fun during the summer. He even said, "I got hurt on company time, so I'm going to get better on company time." That's not an MVP attitude. So while there was no question of his greatness, particularly in relation to Nash, there have been questions about his desire and dedication...at least during the regular season. When he was with the Lakers, his team should have won 60 games every season. Instead they'd go through long stretches of mediocrity and strife, then turn it on in the playoffs. The factors counted against Shaq in MVP voting.
it's like phil jackson and his 9 rings. he only won one coach of the year award. it's these kind of things that make year end awards seem like a joke.You said that MVP is based on the regular season, not on the playoffs. Similarly, Coach of the Year is based on a team's regular season performance, not on whether it wins the championship.
sameer: I find myself disagreeing with Simmons fairly often, though I do read a lot of him. BUT...I tend to agree with his assessment of Nash in the Clippers/Suns series. And here are the holes in your argument.I disagree. But I'll hear you out.
- You tout his 18 and 11 average for the series, but really you're proving Simmons' point because he only eclipsed 18 points twice in the series in the two great games that juiced his series numbers. And you shouldn't really tout an 18 point average when he averaged 20 in the regular season, and it's not like his assist average skyrocketed at the same time.There's a reason an average is called an average. Do you think Kobe scored 35 every game this year? He had games in the 20s and in the teens. Would you say his 81 and 62 point games "juiced" his average? Of course they did. But again, it's an average.
- You identify game 4 as a bad game, and game 3 as a good game. I think you would be hard pressed, based on the numbers presented alone, to prove any significantly different statistical difference in a game when he scored only 4 points (2 baskets!) less, had one more assist (one basket!), and the same number of rebounds. The point is, if game 4 is a bad game, then so is game 3.I didn't particularly feel like giving a game-by-game recap. In this case, the numbers I presented don't tell the full story. In Game 3, Nash dished a couple key assists down the stretch. He also held Sam Cassell to 2-for-10 shooting and only 6 points (and Cassell got benched as a result). Most importantly, Phoenix won the game. Conversely, Cassell exploded in Game 4 (28 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists), Nash wasn't able to control the tempo down the stretch, and the Suns lost. So yeah, I stick by my good game/bad game descriptions.
- Players are always, ALWAYS, judged by their talents. A good game is relative. For a player of Nash's offensive caliber, 14 and 8 is not a good game. It's, in fact, below average for him. 12 and 10, 8 and 11, same thing. Not good Steve Nash games. Games 5 and 6, despite scoring below his average, are at least closer to what the man does in your average regular season game.Here's Kobe's scoring numbers for the seven games he played in the playoffs: 22, 29, 17, 24, 29, 50, and 24. Only once in seven games did he reach or exceed his regular season average. He scored 18 below his average once, 13 below his average once, 11 below his average twice, and six below his average twice. So did Kobe have six "bad" games? It would seem so, based on your rationale. Based solely on his talent, and his ability to score, and the Suns' less than stellar defensive abilities, he should have easily exceeded his average every game. Right?
If you are the Boston Celtics, and you get Nash's games 2 through 6 out of Delonte West, you are definitely thrilled. But if you are the Suns and have Steve Nash, reigning two-time MVP, those are not good games. Those are below average games. I love watching Nash play, but I don't think he's shown MVP form in the playoffs besides for a few games. How many times were you watching and thinking, "Wow, that's the best player on the court right now." And I know that MVP and Best Player on Court are different beasts entirely, but still. I think that warrants mentioning.According to Elliot Kalb, known in basketball circles as "Mr. Stats", players typically suffer a 15 to 20 percent statistical drop-off in the playoffs. This happens for a variety of reasons, but mostly because a team is able to develop and employ specific defensive strategies over the course of a seven-game series. Kobe had six (out of seven) "sub-par" scoring games. Lebron James had several games in which he scored below his regular season average, or dished out fewer assists, or grabbed fewer rebounds. That's just the nature of the beast in the NBA Playoffs. The Clippers used a trapping, double-teaming strategy against Nash. He was still able to orchestrate two great games, and four other solid (if "below average") performances. If what Nash brings to the Suns could be measured by numbers alone, that would mean something. But great players, MVP-caliber players, bring more than statistics. They inspire their teams and lead them to victory. And that's exactly what Nash did.
I hate to keep harping on Steve Nash's faults because he's such an extraordinary offensive player to watch, and he was spectacular in back-to-back Game 7s...Here's a standard rule of thumb. When someone begins a sentence with "I hate to say this, but...", they're probably about to say something stupid. And the reality is, they don't hate saying it at all. They want to say it. Bill Simmons has been disgruntled ever since Nash was selected for his second consecutive MVP Award, and he seems incapable of talking about Nash or the Suns without belittling Nash's game. It's like he has some rare form of Tourette's that revolves entirely around how Steve Nash shouldn't be MVP.
...but when you play 35 minutes a game during the season, followed by a seven-game series against the Lakers in which you didn't have to play any defense at all, followed by a couple of tough games against the Clips, I don't want to hear how tired you are.Fine, Bill. Don't read the news then. Or read it, but try to take some time to discriminate between what a player said and how what he said was interpreted and portrayed. When you see a headline like "Nash Complains Of Tired Legs," it's easy enough to heap criticism on him. I mean, what's he complaining about? He's a two-time MVP, for Chrissakes! Everybody's tired at this point of the season, aren't they?! What a whiner!
Especially if you're a two-time MVP. The fact remains, Nash played only two good games in that series -- Games 1 and 7 -- and the Suns still won the series. If Nowitzki goes 2-for-7 against the Spurs, Dallas is going home right now. So who's more valuable? You tell me.I guess MVPs never complain, do they? I'll get to that in a minute. According to Mr. Simmons, "Nash played only two good games" in the Suns/Clippers series. That's a fact. Bill Simmons said so. But here are a few other facts for you to chew on. Nash averaged 18 points and 11 assists for the series. Those are pretty amazing numbers considering he had only two "good" games out of seven. I've got an idea. Let's take a peek at Nash's series against the Clips.
(You know who should have been tired? Shawn Marion, who played 3,268 minutes in the regular season, nearly 500 more than Nash, then upped it to 42.3 minutes a game in the playoffs as Phoenix's only reliable rebounder/shotblocker -- he had to play both ends of the court and guard everyone from Odom to Kobe to Kaman to Cassell, then have something left as the second scoring option. And while we're here, Larry Legend logged more than 4,000 minutes over eight grueling months during the '86-87 season without hearing a single "Wow, he's getting tired" excuse. Warrants mentioning.)This is another thing that bugs me about Simmons. He loves to toss out Larry Bird comparisons to prove his points. That doesn't work with me. I don't like to brag, but I've read almost every book and magazine article that's ever been written about Bird. When I'm feeling really frisky, I go to the library, reserve a microfiche machine, and read through old Boston Celtics game recaps and box scores. Harvard University is even considering awarding me an honorary Ph.D. in LarryBirdology. So, suffice to say, I know at least as much about Larry Bird as Simmons, and probably more.
1. Boston vs. Philadelphia 1968 Eastern Division finals
2. LA Lakers vs. Phoenix 1970 Western Division semifinals
3. Washington vs. San Antonio 1979 Eastern Conference finals
4. Boston vs. Philadelphia 1981 Eastern Conference finals
5. Phoenix vs. Houston 1995 Western Conference semifinals
6. Miami vs. New York 1997 Eastern Conference semifinals
7. Detroit vs. Orlando 2003 Eastern Conference first round
8. Phoenix vs. LA Lakers 2006 Western Conference first round
Everybody was expecting a showdown. What they got wasn't worth the five minutes it took to watch. Barkley explained (again) why he called Kobe selfish, and then apologized (?!) for making Kobe's text messages public knowledge. Kobe then responded with his lame "I was just sticking to the game plan" excuse, and that was it. No rebuttle, no point/counterpoint, no closing statements by both sides. Charles threw in a quick question about Kobe's upcoming number change right before they went to commercial, and then -- just like that -- it was over.
I still can't believe it. The "game plan" excuse doesn't hold any weight with me, and it shouldn't hold weight with anybody else, either. Kobe quit that night, plain and simple. Phil Jackson wanted to pound the ball inside, get other guys going, fine. That's one thing. But Kobe stood at the top of the key, passing off to teammates and emphatically pointing at them as if to say, "No, you do it. I'm done." He didn't drive to the hoop to create shots for his teammates. He didn't crash the boards. He didn't lock anyone down on defense. I have the game saved on TiVo, and I will sit down with anyone who disagrees and ask them to explain why Kobe spends the second half standing outside the three-point line just watching. Watching. Not participating in the triangle. Not setting up his teammates. Just...watching.
Charles should have asked the same thing. Great players don't have to score to be effective. There were times Larry Bird had to pull back and let McHale, Parish, and Cedric Maxwell carry the scoring load. But he didn't just stand there twiddling his thumbs. He got involved. He hit the boards with a vengence. He created. Kobe has as much natural talent as anyone who has ever played, and he's honed his skills to a level that amazes even me, his harshest critic. But there is no way to defend his inactivity in the second half of that game. He didn't need to take 20 shots that half. He could have contributed in countless other ways. That, more than anything else, is why what he did was selfish and self-serving.
I don't know what kind of voodoo mind control they used to shut Charles up. When the segment began, you could practically see Barkley quivering with anticipation. So what happened? Was he given orders not to aggressively question Kobe? Was he intimidated by Bryant? It doesn't make any sense. Being so passive, even apologizing, that isn't Barkley's style. Never has been. But it was last night. And as a result, he left a lot of people shocked and let down. I wish I knew why. I doubt we'll get any better of an answer to that question than we got about Kobe's disappearing act against the Suns.
"As far as Horry, I would say he's not the same as the rest of the guys you've mentioned. With the exception of Rasheed Wallace in last year's finals, everyone on the floor usually knows how dangerous Horry can be. I don't think anyone doubts Horry's worth beyond his numbers, do you? After all, the dude has 6 rings, and those aren't Jack Haley rings, in many cases it could be argued that the teams he played for wouldn't have won the titles without his big shots. Especially in 2001, 2002, and 2005."I both agree and disagree with what you're saying (and, naturally, I appreciate the unexpected but completely accurate boot-to-the-head of Jack Haley). Yes, it's absolutely true that players and experts regularly give due credit to Horry's contributions. There's a reason he's referred to as "Big Shot Rob" (or "Big Shot Bob", depending on who's talking). But, despite his history of hitting critical shots in key games, someone always ends up leaving him open. And Rasheed Wallace isn't the first person to do it. Remember the shot that almost beat the Spurs in Game 5 of the 2003 Western Conference Semifinals? Sure, that's an example of a big shot he didn't hit (and I can't help but think the Lakers would have won that series if that one shot hadn't rimmed out), but the point is this: somebody left him open (maybe because he was 2-for-38 in threes during those playoffs). Would Shaq or Kobe ever have been left open in that situation? Of course not. In fact, the defense was sagging toward those two players, which is why Horry was open.