Monday, May 25, 2009
Love the Game, Hate the League
Just when I am starting warm up again to the NBA, guys like J.R. Smith do something completely stupid in front of my eyes.
Saturday night, and Smith has just hit a dagger of a three-pointer while falling down at the end of quarter horn.
Instead of a simple fist pump, yell of joy, or calm and cool walk-off celebration, Smith gets a technical for trash talking Sasha Vujacic.
It’s this kind of modern trash talking that turns off many fans. The make-no-mistake-this-is-all-about-me kind of mess talkin’. See, when Magic talked trash, he did it with an assassin’s smile on his face. When Bird stuck the knife in a bit after a big jumper, you at home never knew it - because Bird did it just enough for his opponent to hear.
Today’s punk-ass players like J.R. Smith have to cock their head toward their momentarily vanquished opponent, bob it to the side in cadence, and then spew a mother-f layden string of “in your face” showboating.
It’s not even creative.
Of course Smith hurt his team with the technical. It’s just ONE free throw, what’s the big deal, right? In fact, if I recall, Kobe missed it. But that’s not the point.
It’s a shame, because Smith and his generation of players are mind-bendingly athletic and skilled. The NBA is a freak show of ability, that has long ago hyperspaced past the game your old man used to watch. (“Old man” = me.)
That should be enough to make you love it. LOVE IT!
Sadly, the other end of what makes the NBA so damn-un-likeable, is the incompetence of the officiating.
Yes, “incompetence” and no, I don’t think it’s so “hard.” (Jeff Van Gundy agrees. He has tired of that phrase too…)
Two quick examples: Denver’s Chris Anderson has a point-blank dunk in the fourth quarter. Gasol contests. Anderson misses the dunk completely, and in a way that says to your eyes he was hit, not that he overshot the dunk and caught back iron.
Finally, after play stops ABC shows a replay. Sure enough, Anderson was HAMMERED on the play by Gasol. Arm, shoulder, and head.
But their had to be a “reason” why that call wasn’t made. Because these refs can’t be THAT blind. Or can they? You figure it out. I can’t anymore.
Other times, the refs are so anticipating making a call, they are becoming like the time in Naked Gun when Lt. Drebben got behind home plate in a MLB game and started calling “striiiiikee!” as the ball was halfway to the plate.
The late call on Dwight Howard against LeBron James Sunday night was a perfect example. That block was as clean as Martha Stewart’s bidet after the maids finish up.
But the refs just knew it was time to give LeBron every chance possible (trailing desperately by 6 with under a minute to go) and that anybody who got in his way - superstars like Howard included - were going to get whistled.
All of which has led to the utterly ridiculous flopping by players whenever they are grazed by a defender.
Forget the King of Flops, Vlade Divacs. Both Chauncey Billups and Kobe should have been given nuclear wedgies for a pathetic four-point play opportunity in that same game. Billups hit’s a three and gyrates his body to initiate a tiny amount of contact. Kobe flies backward with his arms in the air trying desperately to draw a charge (who knows, he’s a star you know. They sometimes get calls like that…).
It all looked like a horrible re-enactment of a slow-mo scene in the Matrix, minus the flying bullets.
Maybe my memory is fuzzy, but I don’t ever recall Bird, Magic, Jordan etc. being such call-begging-bitches. Do you?
Then, there’s the tattoos.
Look, I’m no prude, but I finally figured out why some guys’ “body art” offends me so much. It’s simply juvenile and mindless. It’s not something a grown man, and a millionaire for that matter, should have all over his body.
A FEW tattoos. Okay. I say five, max.
If those tattoos were actually drawings done with a Sharpie the night before a game, most people would say: “That’s retarded. Grow up, dude.”
But because they are permanent, take hours at a time, and cost a good bit of money, they are supposed to signify something?
Stop drawing all over yourself, little Kenyon. Or we’ll take away the magic markers.
If you have 20 tattoos, then I’ll get 30, and we can just keep going until we’re out of space. Wheee!
One tattoo that means something to you on your arm, fine. Another one on the other arm, okay. But leave the neck, back, chest and skull alone.
All that said, I watched a lot of NBA this long weekend, and I liked quite a bit of it. But I don’t love it. I can’t. The league is too damn flawed, and it boggles my mind why David Stern can’t finally be ousted to give the sport a new direction.
Call the game according to the rules. Cut the bullshit. And let the phenomenal athletes in this league do their thing.