David Stern proved once again that he has absolutely no clue what it's like to actually play basketball. The league's suspension of Diaw and Stoudemire for Game 5 of the Suns/Spurs series cost Nash and Co. dearly on Wednesday night and could have long term repercussions (Game 6) because many Suns were forced to log well over their season averages in minutes. The Suns gave it the old college try but in the end, the deck was too stacked against them. Stern took what could have been an incredible final three games filled with tension, angst and rivalry and basically handed Duncan and his Spurs the series. Granted, Horry received a two game suspension but he's had about as much impact in this series up to the hip check as Eva Longoria. Now, his hip check might be the biggest shot he's ever made in the playoffs. As for Stern, this guy needs a reality check before he really drives the NBA over the edge. I myself have already given up watching the regular season (unless the Celtics are on) because of three ridiculous rules:
First, the whole semi arc thing that distinguishes whether or not a charge has been committed. Granted, the rule was designed to prevent defenders from slipping under a player who's attacking the rim, cutting the legs out from underneath and sending him crashing into the floor like a gymnast who just missed the high bar. The problem is that the referees nowadays solely decide whether it's a charge or not simply by determining whether the defender's feet are inside or outside the arc. Forget about actually being in position to actually take the charge. If your feet are outside the arc then it's a charge and guess what, it's a joke.
Second, this whole zone defense nonsense has got to stop. The one thing that always differentiated the NBA from the NCAA was no zone defense. It's just like when playing a pick up basketball game, or a game in some men's league. Teams who play zone are weak, and will lose. Real men play man and that's that. But, in the "Reactive" NBA, Stern and his cohorts created the zone defense rule to prevent Shaq from dominating the paint. Well, guess what. Shaq is now a shadow of himself. So congratulations, you've now created a way for the best athletes in the world to not showcase their amazing athleticism by instead allowing them to guard space instead of a player. What's more, you've eliminated the whole one-on-one aspect of the game that made basketball in the mid-80s through early 90s so great. Remember the Bird/Wilkins showdown, the Jordan 63-point playoff game, and the Miller/Starks/Spike Lee games. Those were two guys going to head-to-head and taking turns one upping the other, and it was amazing.
Third, and the most obvious, is this leaving the bench stuff. I don't know about you, but when your star player gets laid out by an opponent the reaction to run to his aid is as instinctive as it gets. Nash has already suffered a bloodied nose in Game 1, was kneed in the jibblies by Bowen, has been grabbed and clawed at throughout the series and now, in his most shining moment of the season – resurrecting the Suns' season in an inspired fourth quarter – gets bounced into the scorer's table by a role player and what, his teammates are supposed to just take this kind of stuff sitting down. I don't think so. I don't want to see a bench clearing brawl, but I also don't want to see the competitive juice restrained by a rule that's governed by a Suit sitting in an office in New York City.
This has been wearing on my mind lately. What's the deal with Colin Cowherd? I love the guy but for a radio host who has made a career out of railing on "Whacky FM Radio Guy," I find it a bit disturbing that he's now running promos such as, "$1000 Cash Cow Giveaways." Maybe it's just my recent bad mood but that sounds a bit too FMish for me.
I'm still disgusted with the Montreal Expos. I used to love baseball. I mean, I really did love it. Now, whatever. The other day I'm watching Rafael Furcal go 4 for 5 against the Cardinals during a streak that saw him get 14 hits in 16 at bats, including three straight four hit games, and I could've cared less. For someone who loves sports as much as I do, that's not normal. I should see a doctor.
Speaking of not normal, Monday I pull into the subterranean garage at my new residence and discover that the lights are out in all common areas, including the garage. Like the adventurous spirit that I am, I proceeded to enter. Let me tell you something. You haven't experienced darkness until you're in an area with no light. Once I parked my car and the headlights went off, I was like Jodie Foster in Silence of the Lambs trying to navigate my way up the stairwell. And when I finally reentered the light, it was like spilling out of a strip club in Vegas at sun up. Good times all around.
And this all after last Friday when my wife calls me at three o'clock to tell me that the property management company had inadvertently turned off the power to our home and it wouldn't be back up until Monday. Let me tell you, news like this after a long work week will test your patience. I literally pulled a Nicky Santoro and threw a conniption fit over the phone. I don't know if I blacked out or what because I can't exactly remember what was expressed to our Homeowner Satisfaction Supervisor, but I'm pretty sure I said something in Latin while revealing the whites of my eyes not unlike that of a Great White Shark during a savage attack. It's literally one thing after the next with our new home. Ever see the movie The Money Pit? It's not quite that bad but it wouldn't surprise me to find out that I've been cast as Truman Burbank in the Truman Show – Part II. Every day I half expect to enter my home to the sounds of horns and confetti before being told by some guy in a smart suit that I'd just won a year's worth of mortgage payments for participating in television's newest reality show.
It's too bad Don Imus is off the air. I say this because how cool would it have been if Reverend Al Sharpton had to go on Imus' show to apologize for the inappropriate comments he recently made about the Mormon faith. I would've paid anything for that.
I think it's hilarious that the Lakers passed on trading Jason Kidd for Bynum and Odom.
Forgive me but I have to get back to the Suns/Spurs stuff for a second. I was breaking this down with my buddy Joe Tuesday night and the one thing we discussed that no else is mentioning is that as bad as the Horry foul was, it wasn't THAT bad. In fact, it should've been expected in that situation. Hard fouls are part of the game and in the closing seconds, if you have the ball odds are you're going to get drilled. After all, unlike in any other part of the game, during the closing seconds if you need to commit a foul you have to do so in a way that gives the referee no other choice but to blow the whistle. On top of that, Nash should've crossed Horry over and taken the ball up the center of the court. Horry was literally one step away from being in position to take the charge. In fact, it can be argued that the reason it appeared to be a flagrant hip check was because Horry was sliding in that direction in an attempt to defend Nash and Nash's quickness simply allowed him to beat Horry to the spot. When Horry arrived half a step late, the momentum of the collision caromed the 165-pound Nash into the scorer's table.
Please tell me you saw Mark Cuban profess his undying love for Dirk Nowitzki this week. The man crush he has on his German superstar is unprecedented in the world of sports. The funny thing is I thought the whole thing was, well, amazing. I mean, is there a better owner in sports than Cuban? Is it even close? His emotional introduction at the MVP presentation for Nowitzki, while awkward to watch, was a good thing.
While on the subject of good guys, let me say that Jason Giambi's comments this week about steroids and the game were much welcomed. When I heard the story, all I could think of was when Sugar congratulated Jerry McGwire, "Finally, somebody said it." Let's hope the Yankees don't do something stupid like release Giambi on Monday. Although if they do, I'm guessing it'll be because of his .273 average with five home runs and only 18 RBIs, and not for his pre game remarks.
How many days until Fall Camps open? I don't want to sound greedy by summer break summer shmreak. Get these students back on campus and let's play some football.
I keep waiting for Roger Goodell to meet with Michael Vick. And waiting, and waiting, and waiting.
For you golfers out there, boy oh boy do I have something special to share. It's called the Stack and Tilt Swing and you've got to try it. I did earlier today and I was 2-under thru 11 holes. It's a new swing method by Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett, golf instructors to some of the PGA's budding young stars (Aaron Baddeley, Dean Wilson and Will MacKenszie). In a nutshell, you do everything opposite of everything you've ever read about the golf swing and within a few shots you'll make the crispest contact ever, AND gain a little extra distance. Let me tell you, I laughed my way around the course for two hours until I could no longer follow my ball flight because of darkness. To learn more, do what I did and purchase the June issue of Golf Digest. It might be the best $3.99 you'll ever spend. It'll definitely be the cheapest and perhaps last lesson you'll ever need.
It's no shock to hear the news that USC's Gabe Pruitt will be hiring an agent and therefore keeping his name in the upcoming NBA draft. Right now Pruitt is not even listed for selection in DraftExpress' Mock Draft so for him to turn pro makes little sense unless you factor in the OJ Mayo Experiment. Pruitt knows that he'll play second fiddle to Mayo under Coach Floyd so what the heck, he might as well roll the dice when he's still somewhat hot.
UA softball hosts a Regional Championship this weekend at Hillenbrand Stadium. I've pretty much been a curse all year to any Arizona athletic team I mention in any article so I'm just giving the details here with no commentary. Arizona plays Howard at 6:30 tonight and will then play at either 1:30 or 4:00 PM Saturday, depending on the outcome of Friday night's game.
Inter league play begins this weekend in MLB. Needless to say, I'm not a fan. Still, there are actually some quality match ups taking place in the next three days. Dodgers/Angels hasn't been the same ever since Chan Ho Park took his flying scissor kick act elsewhere (he's now with the Mets), but it'll still be exciting. The Subway Series will get underway tomorrow, as will the Battle of the Bay up in Oakland. The Cubs square off against the White Sox and we have a pair of past World Series match-ups in St. Louis at Detroit and Toronto at Philadelphia.
With so much happening, it's hard to say what I'll be doing this weekend. Maybe I'll watch some baseball. Maybe I'll watch the Preakness. Or maybe I'll just work on fine tuning my new and improved golf swing.
Bear Down, Everyone!