Update: Several new Worsties have been added (look items marked NEW). Thanks to everyone for the continuing contributions.
Welcome to the first annual edition of the NBA Worsties, a list that describes the best of the worst of the recently concluded NBA season. And there's a lot of it.
Editor's note: Think I missed something? Post it in the comments section. If it's good enough, I'll add it to the list and give you credit.
The new basketball fiasco: Prior to the season, David Stern (along with marketing partner Spaulding) made the unilateral decision to "upgrade" the basketball used in NBA practices and games. Being the backward-thinking but all-powerful dictator that he is, Stern failed to ask current players for their input (although he did let former players like Steve Kerr and Mark Jackson test out the new ball). To nobody's surprise, the players hated it. Months of whining ensued, during which time many players complained that the microfiber ball was hard to grip, bounced funny, opened tiny cuts on their hands, and caused the U.S. dollar to depreciate by five percent. Shaq said it felt like a rubber toy, and Mark Cuban even paid for a psuedo-scientific study that concluded the new ball was "different." Stern finally gave in and brought back the old ball in January, at which time happy players immediately started humping each other in excitement. Rip Hamilton even described the situation as being "like a lost girlfriend that just came back home."
Boston Celtics: An 18-game losing streak. Twenty-four wins. Red Auerbach died. Dennis Johnson died. They only got the 5th pick in the draft. The Celtics Curse continues.
Isiah Thomas: Going into this season, Isiah was in the hot seat. After several ruinous years as the team's GM -- during which time he assembled a team of overpaid, underperforming players and even got slapped with a sexual harrassment lawsuit -- Thomas was named head coach. However, team owner James Dolan issued an ultimatum: Thomas had one season to improve the team or he would be fired. Suffice it to say, Isiah was probably a little stressed out. Perhaps that can explain why on October 27 Thomas almost got into a fight with Nets assistant coach Tom Barrise, or how on November 11 he tried to pick a fight with Bruce Bowen and could be heard telling his players to "break [Bowen's] foot!" After the game, he got into a shouting match with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, and at the post-game press conference he said that, had he faced Bowen in his "Bad Boys" days, he would "murder him." This frustration would lead to a number of incidents, the worst of which was...
The Knicks-Nuggets Brawl: In the closing minutes of another routine blowout of the Knicks, Nuggets coach George Karl decided to leave his starters in the game. Thomas -- who, for the record, also had some starters in the game -- was irate, and no doubt had something to say to his players. With a minute and 15 seconds left in the game, Knicks rookie Mardy Collins flagrantly fouled J.R. Smith on a fastbreak layup attempt by horse-collaring him and throwing him to the ground. Smith and Collins started jawing at each other, then Knick guard Nate Robinson ran up and pushed Smith. The three were surrounded by various Knicks and Nuggets players, as well as officials. Things escalated when Carmelo Anthony grabbed Robinson's neck. At this point Smith, who was being held back by Knicks player David Lee, charged at Robinson, which landed them both in the courtside seats behind the basket. Eventually, the officials got things under controle...but then Anthony punched Collins in the face, and then ran to the other end of the court as Knicks forward Jared Jeffries, Nate Robinson and some other Knicks immediately ran after him. There were several suspensions, the harshest and most notable of which went to Anthony, then the league's leading scorer, who received 15 games (and yet another significant blow to his reputation among players and fans).
Extended vacations: Heat coach Pat Riley and his lumbering center decided, perhaps jointly, to take the first half of the season off. As a result, Dwyane Wade was left behind to lead a crappy team. The defending champion Heat therefore spent a good chunk of the season hovering around and below .500. Things would not end well (see below).
The "Leastern" Conference: The talent disparity between the Eastern and Western Conferences used to be laughable, but now it's just sad. It's like watching a schoolyard bully beat up on a kid half his size. Wait, that's actually pretty funny, unless you're the one getting your head stuffed in a toilet. But you get my point. Maybe if Lebron James and Shaq got traded to Detroit for Dale Davis and Chris Webber, maybe then the East would have one team worthy of competing with the West. But I doubt it.
NEW -- The Kiss: The NBA All-Star Weekend featured one of the greatest events of all time -- a foot race between Dick Bavetta and the pile of blubber that used to be Charles Barkley. Sir Charles managed to shamble his way to victory (despite falling on his butt en route to the finish line), and things should have ended right then and there. But it didn't. You see, everything in the universe has to even out. Good has evil, Yin has Yang, Batman has sex with Robin the Joker, and so on. So I guess it makes sense that Bavetta and Barkley would have to destroy the awesomeness of the race by kissing -- on the lips -- afterward. I still feel dirty, and no amount of soap can ever change that. [Thanks Ben.]
NEW -- Kids shouldn't do drugs: Back in March, Scot Pollard was doing what he always does -- sitting at the end of the Cav's bench, silently wishing he could still play basketball. Suddenly a camera was shoved in his face, and Scot said the first thing that popped into his strange mind: "Hey kids. Do drugs." After getting reamed in the press, Pollard eventually apologized and referred to the incident as "a bad joke." Based on that comment and his ever-changing hairdo, I'd say that it's pretty clear just who's using the drugs here. [Thanks to Mr. Anonymous for this suggestion.]
Ron Artest: You'd think that destroying an entire organization (the Pacers) and doing irreparable harm to the sport of professional basketball (via the Pacers-Pistons brawl) would have sated his hunger for mindless mayhem...but it didn't. Ron-Ron began the season by feuding with Kings teammate Mike Bibby and coach Eric Musselman. He then (surprise!!) said he'd like to be traded (however, a potential deal with the Clippers fell through). On February 5, Animal Services officers seized Artest's dog, Socks, and placed her into protective custody. Apparently, Artest had forgotten to feed her for a few months and the dog looked like "a rack of bones." Eventually, Artest gave the dog up for adoption after admitting he couldn't take care of her. And you can add "family" to the list of things Artest can't take care of, because on March 5 he was arrested on domestic abuse charges. Apparently, he got into a fight with his wife -- grabbing, slapping, and repeatedly pushing her to the ground before driving off in his Hummer (which she chased after and hit with a frying pan). Oh, it should be noted that their children were in the house at the time. Artest was setenced to 20 days in jail and 100 hours of community service (neither of which have yet been served, so far as I know). The Kings briefly dismissed him from the team, but ultimately brought him back so that he could contribute to their stellar 33-win season.
The worst basketball injury caught on film: Shaun Livingston's promising career may have come to a grisly end on February 26 when, in a freakadelic accident, he dislocated his kneecap and tore every ligament in his knee. The injury was so bad that recovery and rehab will take eight to 12 months, and he may miss the entire 2007-08 season. The video of his injury was so horrific that ESPN ran a disclaimer before showing it on the air. You can find it on YouTube if you want, but I wouldn't do it unless you're the kind of morbid sicko who enjoys Faces Of Death.
NEW -- Hair horror: The NBA has seen a wide variety of hair statements throughout the years, from the afro, to cornrows, to the "Fresh Prince" flattop, to carved-in words and phrases, to the fashionably shaved head (which was horifically bastardized by Rik Smits during the '98 playoffs). If this has been a sort of evolution, then Drew Gooden's neck patch is like man turning back into a gorilla. Looking at it, you might think it happened by accident, or that Gooden's using it to cover a birth mark or something. But no, he made the conscious decision to grow the thing, which he calls a "duck tail" and claims was inspired by 1980s hair fashion. Well, at any rate, at least Gooden's hairstrosity deflects attention away from teammate Anderson Varejao's resemblence to Sideshow Bob. [Credit to Joel.]
Doug Christie's "comeback": Jackie Christie's husband took time out from his hectic schedule of domestic slavery to play seven uninspiring games for the Clippers (1.9 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 29.6 hand signals to his wife per game). As his second 10-day contract was about to expire, the Clips tried to sign him for the rest of the season. He said no. Idiot.
NEW -- Scottie Pippen's "comeback": In February, Pippen announced that he wanted to make a comeback to the NBA. To show he was NBA-ready, he showed up the the All-Star Game and participated in the Shooting Stars competition, in which he hit a three-pointer and a half-court shot (the latter of which got his team disqualified because he wasn't eligible to take that shot). His desire was to return and play for a playoff contender -- the Heat, Spurs, Cavs, or Lakers. Despite the fact that three of those teams had major holes that a healthy Pippen could have filled, nobody wanted anything to do with him. This may or may not have anything to do with the following shot he took at Michael Jordan: "The fans who understand the game, the GMs and coaches. I think they'd rather have a Scottie than a Michael. Because I'm an all-around player. Coaches would rather have a Scottie-type player than a Michael. I was an all-around player. I made people around me better." Suuuuuure, Scottie. All I have to say is this: Do you think that, if Jordan tried to make a comeback, he'd get signed by somebody? Yeah, I thought so.
NEW -- The Age of Flop: I understand that flopping has been around for decades, but it's gotten way out of hand. Players don't bother playing defense anymore. Why go through all that effort when you can just drop to the ground any time somebody bumps into you. The leading Flop Master is Manu Ginobili, who is a seventh degree black belt in Flopjitsu. But the greatest flop of the post season came courtesy of Manu's teammate and thug, Robert Horry. Watch the following film in which, after no contact, Horry crumples then launches himself across the floor. [Inspired by Ben.]
Bad predictions: Gilbert Arenas was one of the true joys of the first half of the season. He dropped 60 points on the Lakers in L.A., and he followed that up by scoring 50 against the Suns in Phoenix (the Wizards won both games). He was also a quote machine, but unfortunately his mouth got a little carried away when he vowed revenge on Nate McMillian for being part of the coaching staff that ran him out of the Team USA tryouts during the offseason. He predicted destruction for McMillian's Blazers, but he then went out and had two of his worst scoring games of the season (3-for-15 and 4-of-16). As the season was winding down, fans and players alike started to get a little tired of Gilbert's wagging tongue. Sadly, Arenas tore his MCL near the end of the season and had to miss the playoffs.
Kobe: The bottom line is this -- Kobe is the best scorer in the league, not the best player. Period. He's also a whining crybaby who cares only about himself. God, typing that felt so good I almost passed out.
Kobe fans: Kobe Bryant would grind his own grandma into hamburger meat to win. He doesn't care if he alienates Lakers management, his teammates, or his fans, as long as he gets what he wants. So why do some people go to insane lengths to defend him? I once wrote a post in which my only contention was that Kobe isn't the best player in the league, and I got a flurry of hate mail, some of which centered around my untimely demise and/or sex with my dead skull. And while I'm never one to back away from lively debate, I'm not sure comments like "U r nuthin but a h8ter, ur site sux and i hope u die" really raises the quality of my site.
Tim Hardaway versus butt sex: There are plenty of things worth hating in this world: nuclear war, starvation, poverty, Kobe, those little stickers they use to seal DVD cases, etc. I would think that gay people would rank pretty low on that list. But then again, I'm not former NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway, who let the homosexual world know he hates them. Why? We'll never really know. I would guess that a horde of gay barbarians ate his parents alive.
Contract Year Phenomenon fallout: You know how it works -- a player about to enter free agency goes balls out during the regular season and/or playoffs and fools some dumb team into signing him for way too much money. There were three great examples of that this season: Mike James, Tim Thomas, and Sam Cassell. James and Cassell played great during the 2005-06 season, and Thomas sparked the Suns in the 2006 playoffs. They got nice, juicy contracts in response, and they all promptly stopped giving a crap about basketball. It's worth noting that two of these guys signed with the Clippers.
NEW -- Through the gunfire: The Celtics acquired Sebastian Telfair in a draft day trade. He was supposed to lead C's into a new era of fast break basketball -- if the Wizards were "Phoenix-lite," the Celtics were to be "zero-calorie Phoenix" -- but the only thing he lead them in was gun arrests. Telfair was a collossal flop, a fact made even more painful because the man he was traded for, Brandon Roy, went on to become Rookie of the Year. [Thanks to Mr. Anonymous.]
NEW -- Anti-Contract Year Phenomenon: Nine times out of ten, a guy can coast along for years, play really hard for one season, or just one stretch of one season, and trick some suckers into rewarding him with a big-money, long-term contract. Bonzi Wells thought he was going to be one of those guys. After a solid 2005-06 season with the Sacramento Kings, Wells was ready for his big payday. The Kings offered him a 5-year, $38.5 million contract...and Bonzi just laughed at it. He decided to test the market, but nobody was biting. Nobody. And by the time he realized his mistake, the Kings didn't want him either. He ended up signing with the Houston Rockets for the paltry sum of $2 million a season (down about $6 mil per from the Kings' offer). Wells missed most of training camp, first due to a groin injury and then because of dental work. When he finally did show up, he was out of shape and overweight. Coach Jeff Van Gundy decided Wells didn't deserve much playing time, and Wells got huffy. As a result, Bonzi was placed on the inactive list, dismissed from team practices, and forced to work with trainers to get in shape. Things got so bad that Van Gundy exiled Wells from the Toyota Center. He was finally allowed to rejoin the team in December, but he promptly injured his back and had to miss 10 games. Bonzi eventually made it back from injury and everything seemed fine, but then, out of nowhere, he up and left the team because he felt like he was "disrupting team chemistry." Thus endeth his season. The moral of this story is: don't be greedy. [Once again, inspiration via Ben.]
NEW -- The Pacers: Donnie Walsh wanted Larry Bird to bring the Celtics tradition with him to Indiana, but apparently all Bird brought was the Celtics curse. The team suffered through another season of confusion and disorder, which started when former Pacer Stehpen Jackson got into a fight with a handicapped guy outside of a strip club, got run over by a car, and then fired his gun into the air. Eventually, the Pacers traded Jackson and Al Harrington -- whom the team had spent the entire previous summer trying to reaquire -- for Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy Jr. Right players, wrong decade. Then, Jamaal Tinsley and Marquis Daniels got into a bar fight. A short while later, the Pacers mascot, Boomer, got sued for assault and battery. The team finished 35-47 and decided the only thing to do was eliminate the one bright spot of the last few years, the leadership of coach Rick Carlisle. I'm honestly surprised that Reggie Miller's head hasn't exploded yet. [Danke Mr. Anonymous.]
Adam Morrison: We already knew he was no Larry Bird. Turns out he's not even Michael Smith.
NEW -- Spousal abuse: On January 9, 2007, Jason Kidd filed for divorce against his wife, Joumana, citing "extreme cruelty" in addition to intense jealousy, paranoia, and the threat of "false domestic abuse claims" to the police as reasons for the divorce. On February 15, Joumana filed a counterclaim, alleging that Jason was chronically abusive, having broken her rib and damaged her hearing by "smashing her head into the console of a car." And while domestic violense usually isn't funny, Jason's new "kiss my ass" free throw routine (as shown below) did give my funny bone a soft caress. Good times. [Tip of the hat to Mr. Anonymous and Craig from The Association.]
Big Mac Attack: Their brawl with the Nuggets didn't teach the Knicks a damn thing, and they almost started another huge fight after yet another blowout loss in Chicago. Leading 98-69 in the final minute, the Bulls players were trying to score one more basket so that their fans would get a free Big Mac from McDonald's. Several Knicks players -- Steve Francis and Jerome James in particular -- were so enraged at this that they had to be restrained after the game. In other hamburger-related news, just what the hell is Grimace supposed to be?!
NEW -- Bruce Bowen: Is he the dirtiest player in the league? Tell you what, go to YouTube and do a search for "Bruce Bowen." Here's what you'll find: Bowen sweeping Amare Stoudemire's legs, Bowen jump-kicking Wally Szczerbiak in the face, Bowen kicking Ray Allen, Bowen undercutting Anthony Parker, Bowen undercutting Vince Carter, Bowen kneeing Steve Nash in the man parts, a couple montages of Bowen thugging various players, Bowen injuring Steve Francis, Bowen using his "foot defense" against Francis and Jamal Crawford...and that's just the first page of search results. If this guy was a terrorist, I'd never get on a plane again. In fact, I'd probably be cowering in a nuclear bunker surrounded by k-rations, bottled water, and porn. Anyway, the guy is as dirty as they come. And what makes it worse is how, right after his latest dirty deed, he throws his hands out and looks around in shock, or tries to pretend it was unintentional. You know, I used to play pickup ball with a guy who tried some of that crap, and his family had to show up one night with a bucket and a shovel to clean up what was left of him. If there's any justice in the world, that'll be Bruce Bowen some day. [Again, thanks Ben.]
Tanking: The Memphis Grizzlies, Boston Celtics, and Milwaukee Bucks all tanked games this season, losing on purpose in an effort to land one of the top two draft picks (otherwise known as the "Oden/Durant Sweepstakes"). There's no conclusive way to prove they tanked, but we all know they did it. It's an insult to the fans who pay good money to watch and support their teams, and it's a black eye to the sport of basketball. The Basketball Gods got their revenge, though; none of these teams got the first three picks. Speaking of which...
The lottery: Despite what I said about tanking, the lottery system is totally screwed up. In fact, the random nature of the lottery might actually contribute to tanking, since teams may become obsessed with increasing their percentage chances for winning it. This dramatically increases the liklihood that terrible teams will miss out on the best players available, and therefore remain horrible teams forevermore (sorry, Boston).
NEW -- Viva Las Vegas: The 2007 NBA All-Star Game took place in the so-called Entertainment Capital of the World, but Vegas did a better job of living up to its better-known nickname of Sin City. The festivities were marred by street fights, near-riots, shootings that left three people in critical condition, and a scad of arrests. The best of the worst of these incidents, though, was the Pacman Jones strip club fiasco: Jones, an NFL player, showered several strippers at the Minxx Gentlemen's Club & Lounge with more than $80,000 in cash, the strippers thought they could keep it, Jones wanted it back, Jones grabbed one stripper and slammed her head down on the stage, his entourage fought with some of the other strippers (one of whom "hit a guard in the head with a champagne bottle and began biting and screaming when other guards tried to restrain her"), and finally some of Pacman's posse began blasting away with semi-automatic handguns, hitting a female customer and two security guards. The end result of all this is that Jones is getting a season-long vacation and the NBA probably won't be returning to Vegas any time soon. [Gracias, Mr. Anonymous.]
Doc Rivers extended: Doc Rivers ranks as the second-worst coach in Boston Celtics history, but only because of the existence of Rick Pitino. Doc's record after three seasons in Green is 102-144, including this season's 24-58 mark, which featured a record-busting 18-game losing streak. Everyone assumed that Rivers was going to be fired; ESPN columnist Bill Simmons was so sure of it that he wrote the seemingly inevitable "Doc Rivers has been fired" article well in advance. But Doc had the last laugh when the Celtics rewarded him with a 1-year contract extension worth $5 million. Mind you, that was before the Celtics lost out in the Oden/Durant sweepstakes...
NEW -- Bad news Wizards: For a team named after mythical old men who can perform miracles with the power of their minds, the Wizards sure ran out of magic this season. They spent most of the season leading their division and looked poised to make a nice push in the playoffs. Then Antawn Jamison got injured and they went into a tailspin. After he got back, their All-Star forward Caron Butler broke his hand. Then, as if they weren't bad enough off, they lost their best player, Gilbert Arenas, for the rest of the season and the playoffs due to a torn MCL. The Wizards ended up finishing second in their division and limped into the playoffs, where they were casually swept away by the Cavaliers. [Brainwave courtesy of Ben.]
UPDATED -- Isiah Thomas extended: Speaking of unwarranted contract extensions...you may remember how, several paragraphs ago, I mentioned that Knicks owner James Dolan had given Isiah one year to show "evident progress"...or else. Well, the Knicks won a whopping 33 games -- up 10 whole games from the previous season's 23-win campaign!! -- and that was good enough to secure a multi-year contract extension that will keep Thomas in New York through 2013. Dear merciful Odin, the nightmare never ends. My buddy Craig at The Association said it best an an e-mail he just sent me: "I love how sometime in the middle of the season, the media jumped on the whole 'Isiah Thomas isn't that bad of a head coach' storyline. They reasoned that it was a good thing that Isiah had the Knicks up to the 9 spot...in the worst conference in the history of the NBA! That story died by the All-Star break, but for a few weeks the media were like those volunteers at the end of a special olympics race looking to give Isiah a hug for finishing 9th in a 15-man race."
NEW -- The Non-Answer: There have been literally thousands of stories over the years about how well and Allen Iverson-led team would do in the playoffs if Allen Iverson just had some good teammates. Well, this season he was finally traded to the Denver Nuggets, where he got to play with the league's second-leading scorer (Carmelo Anthony), the Defensive Player of the Year (Marcus Camby), and some other solid NBA players (Nene, J.R. Smith, Steve Blake, et al.). And what happened? Yet another first round playoff exit. Of course, apologists will point out they lost to the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs, but I say a loss is a loss is a loss. The fact is, Iverson still hasn't proved he can win it all, or make other players better. He could prove me wrong next season...but I doubt it. [Ben, again.]
Heat stroke: The Miami Heat lost Pat Riley for half the season due to hip and knee problems, and then Shaq and Dwyane Wade combined to miss 73 games, all of which led to an uninspiring 44-38 record for the defending champs. Riley, Shaq, and Wade were all back for the playoffs, but Wade's shoulder was iffy at best, and they still had a team composed of all-stars...from the 1990s. The Heat entered the playoffs as a darkhorse contender, but they got swept (and utterly dominated) by the Chicago Bulls.
The Mav's historic flop: The Dallas Mavericks went 67-15 during the regular season, which tied for the sixth-best record of all time. They were a consensus favorite to reach the NBA Finals for the second straight year, and conventional wisdom was that they'd translate the previous season's failure into a championship. Apparently, conventional wisdom just ain't what it used to be; they got ousted in the first round by a team that squeaked into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season. It rewrote the book on first round upsets, and will be used as a cautionary tale to favored teams for years to come.
Another one-and-done for T-Mac: Tracy McGrady was probably grateful for the Maverick's fold-a-rama, because it diverted some of the attention away from the latest in his long and infamous history of first round defeats. This has given rise to one of the more odious titles of all time: The Best Player Never To Make It Out Of The First Round. This wasn't the first time one of McGrady's teams collapsed after holding a series lead, but what made this one worse is that Rockets lost Game 7 at home.
David Blaine: The guy might be a great magician, but "explaining the NBA" commercials were awful. Couldn't he have made those disappear? Now that would have been magical.
The "MVP" award: Dirk Nowitzki had an excellent season -- 24 PPG, 9 RPG, 3 APG -- but he was awarded the MVP mostly because his Dallas Mavericks won 67 games. It was obvious that the media decided shortly after the All-Star Game that Dirk was the MVP and nothing short of a total collapse by the Mavericks (which, sadly, didn't happen until the playoffs) would change their minds. If you check Dirk's season splits, you'll notice that all of his numbers were gradually dropping as the season progressed, and his team even lost both "MVP Games" to the Suns as Dirk was soundly outplayed by Steve Nash. This miscarriage of MVP voting culminated in the Mavs first round ouster, during which Dirk played more like an LVP (he was 2-for-13 in the deciding game). Of course, it was great comedy seeing Nowitzki receive the MVP in a staged press conference that was purposely delayed to avoid embarrassing anybody (Dirk, his team, the league, David Stern, et al.).
Bullcrap: After they swept the defending champion Miami Heat in the first round, the Bulls suddenly became the favorites to come out of the East. Wrong. The Pistons casually built a 3-0 lead before mercifully dispatching the Bulls in six games. Maybe next year, guys (assuming you actually get a player who can score in the post).
The Suns suspensions: The Suns were wrapping up Game 4 their Western Conference Semifinal series against the Spurs -- and thereby regaining homecourt advantage -- when Robert Horry body-checked Steve Nash into the scoring table. Teammates Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw jumped up to see what had happened and then returned harmlessly to the bench. Unfortunately for them and the Suns, the league has an archaic rule that says you can't get off the bench during an altercation (the rule, I should point out, does not define what constitutes an "altercation"). Unwilling to abide by reason, logic, or the most common of sense, David Stern (via Stu Jackson, the NBA's Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations) chose to further his dictatorship by suspending Stoudemire (the Suns' leading scorer and second best player) and Diaw (his backup) for Game 5, which the Suns lost 88-85. The Spurs closed out the series in Game 6, and thus we, the fans, were robbed of the only good series in an entire playoffs worth of crap. Thanks, Dave.
Dubious officiating: Twice during the regular season, the NBA suspended Kobe Bryant for elbowing opposing players in the face on the follow through to his shot. Yes the contact was intentional -- Kobe was trying to draw a foul -- but not truly suspension-worthy. However, David stern claimed the league was trying to protect players from head and face injuries and was therefore setting a precedent. That precedent was forgotten in the playoffs, however, when the Warriors' Baron Davis got frustrated and popped Jazz hero du jour Derek Fisher in the chops. No foul was called, nor any suspension levied. Al Harrington also popped Carlos Boozer in the face, in the same game no less, and got nothing. Jason Richardson clotheslined Mehmet Okur -- again, this is all in the same game -- and wasn't suspended (it should be noted that, during the previous year's playoffs, Raja Bell received a one-game suspension for clotheslining Kobe Bryant). While all this was going on, Bruce Bowen was grabbing Steve Nash, stepping under his feet on jump shots, and kneeing him in the balls. He also tried to sweep Amare Stoudemire's leg on a jump shot. Was he suspended or punished? Nope. But a couple guys got suspended for jumping off the Phoenix bench. Way to go there, refs.
Mr. Not-So-Big Shot: The Pistons built a nice, comfy 2-0 lead against the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, then watched in horror as the Cavs won the next four straight to breakdance their way into the Finals. Billups shot 19-50 (38 percent) in those final four games, but it wasn't just bad shooting...his shot selection was just atrocious. His game management was even worse. Can we please stop calling him "Mr. Big Shot" and comparing him to Earl Monroe? He really doesn't deserve it.
Kobe's freakout: Watching Lebron James lead a squad of less-than-stellar players apparently broke Kobe's will, and he then began several weeks worth of flip-flopping trade demands, calling out his bosses, the Lakers organization, and God Himself. He may end up getting Kevin Garnett for his troubles, and I hope Kobe chokes on him.
NEW -- The Lebron Lovefest: Lebron gave us one of the great moments in playoff history in Game 5 of the Cavs-Pistons series, scoring 25 straight and 29 of his team's final 30 points. That performance, more than anything else, is probably what helped catapult the Cavaliers into the NBA Finals. For two or three days, the entire world (minus a scant handful of haters) bowed down and performed wet, sloppy felatio at the Alter of King James. Somehow this made us forgive and forget the way Lebron coasted through the first half of the season and all his "Global Icon" bullpoopy. What...what happened? Did someone buy a tank of goat blood and cast some dark spell on us all? I mean, the dude gave a crap about, oh, say, 30ish games during the regular season. Would Bird, Jordan, or Magic have done that? Maybe Shaq's yearly 20-game vacation has desensitized us, but it sure seems like James got a free pass this year. [Credit: various.]
The NBA Finals: This year's championship series was a yawn-fest featuring one of the worst finalists ever (the Cavs) versus the best but most boring team in the league (the Spurs). People stayed away in droves, preferring to watch bad reality TV rather than the world championship of basketball. As a result, the 2007 NBA Finals had the worst ratings of all time.