Game 4 notes:

…Just managed to get to the game after a busy day, at the beginning of the second quarter. Saw the Parker twisting lay-up highlight. Nice. Apparently, this guy is more than just a pretty face and an Eva Longoria plaything - jealousy grows with each passing day.

…One of the commentators just said “THIS is how you use LeBron James against this defense. Off screens.” Hmmm, took three crushing loses to figure that out? Look at my previous posts…I’ve already covered that obvious strategy, people. Way to wait until the series is out of reach.

…”Transformers”…expect that silly movie to be a guilty pleasure this Summer.

…7:49 in the second – There’s nothing quite so sad as seeing “Game 5 (if necessary)” – it might as well say “Game 5 (If the Cavaliers manage to play some decent basketball and actually win one).” It’s way longer, but much truer.

…6:13 in the second – Ginobli hits a three. Spurs 30, Cavs 25. Cavs timeout. LeBron is on the sideline getting taped up. He’s been poked in the face, and now they’re working on his leg…the Cavs are simply grinding their wheels like no other team I’ve ever seen. At least when my Red Sox pulled out 4 after going down 0-3 against the Damn Yankees in ’04, they had firepower that was just dormant and lurking…I just don’t have the feeling that Gibson, Gooden, Ilgauskas and Varejao are “dormant and lurking.”

…Cut to a clip of a Spurs pre-season party with Tim Duncan playing the old Carson character Carnac. Some things are so not funny that they’re funny – this was not one of those things.

…Nearing the half – Parker makes a pretty double-clutch lay up. Replay shows the move to be a clear travel – which even my 8-year-old is able to notice. Perhaps we need younger refs? I mean, not fetuses, but younger…like ones that can see.

…There’s so little to enjoy on the court, we’re now star-gazing. Franco Harris is in the crowd. Last game, we had Payton Manning, now it’s Tom Brady and Terrell Owens. Hey, now that this Finals series is as good as over, how ‘bout dem Patriots? Can’t wait to hear this call on the hook-and-ladder play…Brady passes to Stallworth, who laterals to Moss!…I think I just peed myself a little with anticipatory joy….

…Nike “We are all witnesses” commercial…seems a little silly with an impending sweep…we are all witnesses to WHAT? Self-destruction and ignominious failure?

…Remember the hyper-down halftime report “Cleveland Misery”? Well now we get over-hype halftime report “Spurs Dynasty.” ABC already has them surpassing the Kobe-Shaq Lakers and the Bird Celtics in greatness?* Christ, we can’t even let them actually WIN the fourth championship before we start making outrageous comparisons like that. Yeah, I know the Spurs have four championships, but the ones against the Knicks and Nets should only count for half. And come to think of it, this one should count for only, like, a quarter championship - at least in the “How does this team measure all-time” argument. And Larry’s ’84 series win over Magic’s Lakers counts as two…God, I love it when I get to make up the rules. After watching this Spurs lovefest, I have a sudden rejuvenated need to see the Cavaliers come up with the impossible.

*I’ll take a Larry’s Celts and Kobe and Shaq’s Lakers over any of these Spurs teams – all…day…long. Don’t be fooled by something as silly as a number – black-and-white judgment of greatness by number of championships is a simplistic way of looking at things…unless it’s football, whereby Tom Brady is clearly three times as good as Payton Manning because of the three championships vs. one…Now, see how silly that sounds?

…Barkley and Wade “Fave 5” commercials…forget Cleveland’s misery, what about the misery I have to endure watching these?

…1:24 left in the third – LeBron is poked in the eye for the second time in the game, this time by Horry. Horry gives him the “Hey man, you OK?” Ah, heartwarming. If the series were tied and competitive, Horry would be body-slamming Gibson to get LeBron kicked out of the game. Sign your team is completely awful? Robert Horry is being nice to you : “Hey, loser-we’re-wiping-the-floor-with, you OK buddy?”

…End of the third – The Cleveland crowd is chanting something. Whatever it is, it’s irrelevant and pointless.

…We 're starting the 4th, and it’s 60 to 52…I’m thinking to myself “Maybe it’s time to take up watching the WNBA…”

…9:52 left – Cleveland makes a run to get down by 4. They’re pumping fists like they’ve actually done something. Note to Cavs. Keep it down, the Spurs are getting ready to celebrate.

…Cut to shot of Eric Snow trying to jack up his team – didn’t understand a single word he said. I think I managed to make out “Advance or go home,” but it may have been “Chance for a loan?”

…9:16 left – Cavs down by three. Hope seems silly.

…7:50 left – Cavs up by one. Hope feels…almost dirty.

…5:50 left – Varejao flops and the refs fall for it, calling an offensive foul on Duncan. It appears David Stern has ruled from on high that there shall be a Game 5.

…5:05 left – LeBron is fouled, hits one of two, he’s 2-for-6 on free throws. That’s not what superstars do. Think he would’ve hit three free throws at the end of game four if they gave them to him? Neither do I.

…2:29 left – Spurs back up by 6. Done deal.

…The Cavs are back to looking completely awful – a fitting end. All they can do now is chalk up these finals to “getting experience” - sure, getting a terrible, humiliating experience, but an experience nonetheless.

…A minute or so left – Mike Breen actually says “Spurs trying to hold on” to add some artificial drama to the moment.

…Two “filet-o-fish” talking to each other in a commercial just cheered me up, only to be followed by another Barkley and Wade commercial to bring me back down.

…7.5 ticks left – Ginobli called for a phantom foul on a Damon Jones three. The refs are still trying to follow Stern’s “Make Game 5 happen” decree.

…Breen again trying to add drama, saying how the Spurs owner “looks nervous.” Nervous about what? How hot it’s going to be at the parade?

…Great time management over the last minute Cavs. That is some bad coaching right there…AND to add insult, the Cavs sink the buzzer-beating three to make it a one-point final score and further make you wonder how the game could have turned out with better time management…

…Cavaliers are giving those post-loss handshakes that smell suspiciously of “Yep, we were really just happy to be here.”

…Duncan interview. Good for him. True class act. Never says a single word that makes you dislike him. Robert Horry, on the other hand…7 rings? Jesus. So is he better than Larry and MJ and Shaq? Of course not…that’s like Jeff Goldblum pretending that everyone went to see “Independence Day” and “Jurassic Park” because of him.

…The Cleveland fans are booing the Commish…Amen, Cleveland. But now you’re booing the Spurs…and Tony Parker as the MVP. Don’t do that. It makes you look petty and classless. One of the enduring images of sportsmanship I recall from my youth is Boston fans applauding the Lakers when they won it all on the Celtics’ floor. You don’t have to like the opponents, but you should, as a sports fan, appreciate them (put Yankees caps on Kareem and Magic, however, and they wouldn’t have gotten out of town alive). On second thought, Parker is French, so if you’re booing that, I am in full agreement.

…Finley says he is going to put the game ball “between me and my wife in bed.” Well, well, Michael, we all love basketball, but clearly not quite in the same fashion that you do.

P.S.> Ironic "ring" footnote: Robert Horry: 7, Steve Nash: Zero

Ok, ok, enough of that. Congrats to the Spurs, 2007 World Champs.

Labels: ,

Anonymous Anonymous said...
The Misery and the Dynasty: apt title. Whenever the Spurs are in the Finals, it's Misery to watch. If the team from the East is wretched, you can always count on San Antonio to show up to drain the last drop of life from the party.

That the series against the Pistons went the full seven games is fool's gold; that was Uglyball[tm].

Anonymous Anonymous said...
You know, I was gonna count the series against the Pistons as one, but you've swayed me. Let's count that one as 3/5ths.

Don't be sad, jaz. In the end, it was unselfish team ball that won...and, of course, eighteen times more talent.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Mike here. Come on Evil Ted, you know that winning a single championship ain't easy. The Pistons should know, they have one too, and they went through a lot to get it.

Just because the Pistons reached the finals once in all their years of recent dominance, it doesn't mean that they aren't good enough to win it all.

My point is, to remain excellent for so long is VERY difficult in this age of free agency, and the Spurs (like the Pistons) remain to be a constant. Add to the fact that their salary budget is nothing compared to other terrible NBA teams (**cough Knicks cough**).

Each of the Spurs' titles count as one, not a fraction. It's a culmination of all their hard work.

It's a dynasty because like you've admitted in your previous comment, the Spurs have been excellent for the longest time, and perhaps this has desensitized you.

I guess you're a casual fan because you hate Spurs ball. I can't force you to like it, but I can at least encourage you to study the game some more because this franchise is doing many things right in terms of Xs and Os.

Once you've gained a deeper appreciation for the sport, I'm sure you'll say things differently.

Blogger Sit said...
Congrats to the Spurs and go Horry. As a Laker fan, I'm proud of that man! It's 7 rings man. Hopefully number 8 will come next season. The Robert Horry Farewell Tour is coming in 07-08!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Unexpectedly, that "filet o' fish" thing cracked me up. Static shots of two fried fish sandwiches with voiceovers. Who knew?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Anonymous condescends to enlighten me about the beauty of Spurs basketball, assuming that, because I don't enjoy watching it, I am a casual fan. What casual fan could stand even to watch that series? I endured it only as the hard core could.

I can appreciate a well-oiled machine stamping out parts on an assembly line, part after part for an entire shift. It's doing what it was designed to do, and does it well. It has a beauty, but it's a cold, inhuman beauty, that might make an efficiency engineer's heart thrill.

The Spurs are a coach's kind of beauty, a Spurs fan kind of beauty, not a fan's beauty.

Blogger ChrisH said...
i'm glad the fans booed the spurs. why does the league have to stage a coronation out on the visitors court? hey you won, our team congratulates you, we clap , now head to the locker room for the champagne and all the celebrating. don't rub it in our faces with a big trophy presentation on our court. If I were there I would have purchased an extra hot dog, and thrown chewed up bits at david stern.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
If this series didn't already convince you, the Spurs are about as "beautiful" as a mudslide avalanche. As someone else pointed out, the Spurs may be a coach's kind of beauty, or a San Antonio resident's kind of beauty, but because we can't appreciate it as beauty therefore we are "casual" fans? Then what have I been watching the past 15 years? The D-League?

Blogger Evil Ted said...
Well, lots to get to here:

First, Mike: you appear to have made an abnormally common habit of subordinating people to "casual" fan status (you'll recall you've done it to me in a previous discussion). I'd suggest you drop it, as it's condescending and won't win you any hearts or minds. Trust me: I am a seasoned professional of not winning hearts and minds.

Second, Mike, let me convey a point I've made in the past - if something I write sounds odd or against convention, take a minute to gather my tone. Often I have my tongue firmly planted in cheek, so a serious rebuttal is often unnecessary. That said, I happen to be quite fond of my offbeat assertion that not all championships are worth "1" on the Board of Eternal Greatness (or the "B.E.G." as we in special circles call it). So there, chew on that series of mind-numbingly contradictory statements.

To Jaz, well played, my friend. I have actually found myself a little uneasy about not really enjoying the Spurs brand of ball lately, and have been unable to verbalize my mysterious feelings sufficiently. But all of your concepts, from "well-oiled machine stamping" to "coach's kind of beauty" to - and my particular favorite - "cold, inhuman beauty" actually helped me to put a name on what was bothering me. I am not even going to try to elaborate further, as I think you have nailed it. Well done.

Sit: I will excuse you being a Laker fan. Nobody is perfect. But today on one of the ESPN shows, Bill Russell was mentioned in the same breath as Robert Horry, and a little vomit came up into my throat. Yes, the man has 7 rings, but if we treat all rings the same, just as we might treat all championships the same (Mike!), it takes all logic out of the equation, and makes our analyses "cold" and "inhuman" as jaz so eloquently put it. Horry has 7 rings as a ROLE PLAYER. It won't change that he has 7 rings, but seriously, let's stop treating him like he didn't play with Kobe and Shaq, or Duncan and Parker. I know these sports shows have lots of time to fill with ridiculous arguments, but saying "Horry" and "Russell" in the same sentence is just Theatre of the Absurd. Let's stop with the crazy talk and use our cerebral cortexes, people.

One more thing, sit: Please don't say you're "proud" of Robert Horry. If you're not his dad or his high school basketball coach, you have no reason to be proud. You're happy for him, which is very sweet. You know what I hope? I hope Horry keeps playing until he has 11 rings, so that eventually when the media feels the need to get him and Bill Russell together to "have a chat with the two greatest basketball players of all time," we'll finally get to see Russell drop that nice guy demeanor and put on a good old fashioned ass whuppin' that's a pay-per-view I'd want to see.

To chris: I do have to agree with you, I prefer the good old days when teams celebrated in their own locker room. It had a more intimate feel, and a hip "if we tried to celebrate on the opponent's field/court, the crowd would be kicking our collective ass right now." As for your desire to throw bits of hot dog at David Stern, you'll need to get in line. And of course, depending on your place in line, and the percentage-based lottery system being implemented to determine the order of hot dog throwers, you may or may not get your first pick of hot dog pieces.

Finally, anonymous, yes - the one shining ray of light yesterday evening was a completely off-balance Filet of Fish commercial that had me laughing out loud during the final game of a terrible NBA Finals series. Thank you, McDonalds. Thank you and your desire to counter the wonderful insanity of the moustache-stroking, tights-wearing Burger King.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Point taken. As for not winning many hearts, I don't really intend to join any popularity contests. I've been a Spurs enthusiast for the longest time (around 13 seasons), perhaps their attitude on popularity has rubbed off on me.

@Jaz & the other anonymous guy
I didn't mean to condescend by classifying you as a certain kind of fan, and I apologize.

I would appreciate it though if you'd stop calling my preferred brand of basketball as mudslide ugly or Misery ugly. It may not be directly aimed at me (it's aimed at the Spurs, I know), but it annoys me just the same.

Same as being called a casual fan.

Let's just agree to disagree, okay? :)


Anonymous Anonymous said...
It's not the same as being called a casual fan, Mike. These people are commenting on the brand of basketball the team plays, and you're commenting about them.

"I don't really intend to join any popularity contests" is code for "I've joined a popularity contest, lost, and am now trying to rationalize why I didn't win the popularity contest." We all want the hearts and minds, Mike. It's human nature. And it's OK. Dr. Phil said so.

I will grant you that mudslide and misery ugly are needless overstatements. The Spurs are now victims of having been too good for too long, so there's a backlash. I know that when my Patriots win another Superbowl this year, there will be tons of eye-rollers and whiners, and even a few middle fingers. I'm cool with it. Partially because I'm a masochist, and partially because it's the surest indication that my team is perched solidly on the mountaintop of greatness. So really, you should be wallowing in the satisfaction of all this criticism; it's just praise in disguise.

If that angle doesn't work for you, sorry. Just don't take criticism of Spurs ball pesonally. You don't play on the team. You're not on the coaching staff. You're not one of the trainers, or the water boy. If you're going to take it personally when people criticize the Spurs, get together and go bowling with the dude who is inexplicably "proud" of Robert Horry.

And I hate agreeing to disagree. It's like being at peace with being at war. Don't apologize for how you feel; just give in and stop feeling that way, and we'll get along fine...

...After all, everyone's entitled to my opinion.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Note that I didn't call the Spurs ball "ugly" (I know others did), but I suggested there is an appreciation for their functional competence in gaining a win.

Those of us who aren't Spurs fans or coaches watch these games for enjoyment, not necessarily to see the Spurs win efficiently by executing their plays well. Some flair / style / passion / human element is needed. Manu brings some of that but it gets negated by the histrionic flopping. Duncan is a complete void in the flair / style / passion / human element, it seems he drains the whole team of it, so he's something of a black hole. Rasheed is a bit of the opposite extreme.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Look guys, if your definition of "hardcore" means watching the NBA for 15 years or completing a series you don't really want to watch, then I'm sorry to say but IMHO, it's inexact.

Case in point: I’ve watched boxing since I was a child: Larry Holmes, Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns, Mike Tyson, Manny Pacquiao, and the whole nine yards. I watched them all. If you count how long I’ve been watching, that would be almost 30 years.

Does this mean I’m hardcore? No.

Do I consider myself hardcore? No.

If I considered myself a hardcore fan even if I’m really not, and I was told otherwise by some anonymous stranger in a blog, I would naturally be offended. It’s just like the reaction I got when I suggested to some people in this soapbox to study basketball some more to gain a deeper appreciation of Spurs basketball.

I will certainly view the theoretical stranger as a scumbag for hypothetically suggesting that I study the intricacies of boxing to appreciate it better. The nerve of that idiot. Why, I’ve been watching this game for the longest time!

What’s my point?

If you can give me the details on how the triangle offense works, if you can differentiate the Princeton offense from the standard flex offense, if you know how to draw up traps for a full court press, THAT’S hardcore.

Watching the NBA for 15 years or spewing stats that are readily-available in post-game news or isn’t hardcore, really. Armchair analysts can do that. Mind you, there’s nothing wrong in being a stat-crunching buff or having the staying power of a 15-year fan—in fact, I think it’s great to be one because the game really is beautiful, and it deserves such enthusiasts like all of us.

Jaz is absolutely correct in pointing out that Spurs ball is a coach’s beauty. Not a regular fan’s beauty. Only a coach, or someone with a deep knowledge of the game, would appreciate Spurs ball. Since I used to be an amateur coach in our district, this is right up my alley.

But you know what? I DID say the same thing, it just didn’t come out right.

If you’re a regular fan, you won’t appreciate the Spurs’ “cold, inhuman beauty.” To appreciate their brand of basketball, you need to study the Xs and Os—something I remember suggesting. This was the root of all hatred towards me, remember?

Knowing the Xs and Os is something a coach or a hardcore fan does.

Perhaps I should have used a word other than “casual.” Hey, casual isn’t bad—unless you consider yourself hardcore and was informed by a stranger that you’re not hardcore, you’re casual. I’m a casual boxing fan, even if I’ve watched the sport for almost 30 years.

If you can’t tell the difference between a 2-2 zone and a 2-1 zone, then you’re a regular basketball fan. A “casual” basketball fan, if you will. Is there anything wrong with that? Nothing’s wrong with that! That means you have a life. That means you got laid earlier than I did. And you know what? It’s fine to be a casual or regular basketball fan.