May 1, 2009
The collective thud you just heard was everyone coming back down to earth after the Bulls-Celtics triple overtime thriller. I’m a little worse for wear myself, going through two liters of water and four granola bars in attempts to stay hydrated and filled up during that hardwood marathon.
Anyways, the NBA Playoffs are not without story lines and exciting games. Most basketball fans have found a player or team to attach to, especially with the Bucks being eliminated. I’ve found an animal, players and teams who have earned my admiration. That admiration coupled with a bottle of Listerine might prevent gingivitis.
“My favorite Things” to call them. It’s similar to Oprah’s favorite things episode, but you’ll only leave the page with nausea and brain cramps. No trips to Tahiti here.
So without stringing this out any longer, here are “My Favorite Things” from the first round of the NBA playoffs.
Favorite in-game distraction: Spirit the Hawk
During the first quarter of game two in the Hawks-Heat series, Spirit the Hawk was flying around Phillips Arena. Some players refused to play as Spirit found a nesting spot atop one backboard (Personally, I think most players were afraid Spirit was going to use them as target practice…What? No one else wishes pigeons would do that to shirtless joggers? Well then never mind).
Spirit eventually found his way back to his cage. The “Spirit,” moved him. I’m sorry, that was bad, but I had no choice.
Favorite announcer: Jeff Van Gundy
While my everlasting image of Jeff Van Gundy will be wrapping his arms around Alonzo Mourning’s ankles to either convince ‘Zo to let him stay home from school so they could oil Jeff’s baseball mitt and go fishing or prevent a brawl between the Heat and the Knicks, Van Gundy has carved out a nice career as a basketball analyst.
His critical comments offer insight few color commentators are willing to give. He questions dumb shots and even calls out members of the fraternal order of national basketball association coaches. He went so far as to call the mock turtlenecks his brother Stan wears during games a disgrace to the family.
He’s kidding, but I wouldn’t blame him if he wasn’t.
Favorite Joe Pesci imitation: Kevin Garnett, game two of Bulls-Celtics
Even though the Big Ticket has become the Big Sitting, he wears a scowl on his face every time the camera cuts to him. Garnett doesn’t want to be sitting on the bench, watching Joakim Noah grab rebounds and Tyrus Thomas delight the masses by blocking shots out of bounds. Instead, he sits and grimaces, an awkward gargoyle perched on the bench.
Did I mention he swears? His string of obscenities are not even impressive though. Anyone can repeat the same word 14 times, even if it’s a curse word. They can even pound their chest in the process. It’s not that &^#%^&# difficult, again, I'm not impressed.
Favorite “We knew it would happen this way, why didn’t you” moment: 76ers coach Tony DiLeo
Hedo Turkoglu gets the ball in game five of a 2-2 series. The Magic and 76ers are tied at that point. Was there ever any question what he was going to do? Does Hedo even know you can shoot inside the three-point arc?
Orlando is not exactly brimming with big-time shooters. It’s extremely difficult to get the ball into Superman’s phone booth, especially with little time on the clock, so isn’t Turkoglu the team’s only option?
Hedo hits the shot. The Magic win the series. DiLeo has to buy résumé paper.
Favorite “he died with his dignity intact” moment: The Spurs lose to Dallas in five games
The Spurs are the model franchise in the NBA. They’re the one extended family where all the kids graduate from prestigious universities, one parent is a philanthropist, the other is a city councilman and the whole crew spends its idle time building homes in poor communities. But you can’t stand them because they’re boring. They have no deficiencies and you wish just once something would go awry.
The Spurs are that extended family for me. I respect what they’ve done, but it doesn’t mean I want to be around them.
Yet the team went down graciously in defeat and now NBA well-wishers will mourn the loss as the end of a great dynasty. It is a great dynasty, but it’s not that interesting. Like when “ER” went off the air. Did anyone care or did anyone watch after George Clooney left?
So now we sit and feign sorrow and sympathy for the crumbling of a basketball dynasty. I’ll give the Spurs their due, they’ve won with minimal P.R. snafus (minus Robert Horry introducing Steve Nash to the scorer’s table) but most of their games left me with the same look Robert De Niro had throughout a majority of “Awakenings.” Poke and prod all you want, you couldn’t shake that basketball coma.
Favorite big shooter: Ray Allen. Allen has single-handedly kept Boston in the series with Chicago
Allen continues to reinvent himself. He has put on a clinic against the Bulls, hitting shots from the corner, in the lane, from the wing and everywhere in between.
His numbers are especially impressive because Paul Pierce is nowhere near his self-applied label of “best basketball player in the world.” Pierce is pulling out the old magician’s bag of
veteran moves. His rabbit is dead and his dove won’t fly, so he’s left to master the “quarter behind the ear” trick that would make him a favorite at Bah Mitzvahs and Kiwanis Clubs.
He doesn’t want to drive to the basket or work around too many screens, so he gets the ball at the top of the key and inevitably pulls up at the free throw line. From there a variance of pivots, twists and turns ensue. Pierce fades away while trying to extend his arms and draw contact from the defender.
Pierce’s sub par series coupled with Garnett’s injury has made Boston a drastically weaker opponent, but if the Celtics lose, it’s of no fault of Allen. He’s been the one stud in a stable of glue.
If these moments of excitement are any indication, we are all in for a real treat in the second round.