Friday, April 18, 2008

NBA Playoffs: Part 1 (Get Your Head Out of Your Butt Edition)

Every year I say I don't care whether or not people care about the NBA. I always say that I'm through trying to convert the non-believers into believers.

And I'm always lying.

I can't explain why I want everyone else to enjoy this great game, but I do. Especially around playoff time, which, in its own way, is much better than March Madness (although March Madness is, was, and will always be my favorite event in sports. Also, nobody loves using commas more than me.).

Let me just say this: If everybody can agree that the absolute best athletes on Earth play professional hoops in America...and if I promise you that the NBA playoffs will match the intensity of March Madness, except with far greater skill...and if I can promise you that the best studio show ever, Inside the NBA, will be hitting on all cylinders 5-6 times per week for the next six I need to keep going?

Listen, I don't want to make this a March Madness vs. NBA playoffs thing, because, again, I love March Madness more than anything. But, the reason I compare the two is simple: Non-hoops fans will immerse themselves in college ball every March, and it seems normal. But the same thing would never happen for the NBA playoffs. And for the life of me, I'll never figure out why.

Okay, I quit.

Now that I'm through wasting my time, a prediction-free thought about the NBA playoffs...

Phoenix and San Antonio square up in round one, and you know what that means: It means that Phoenix has no chance because the Spurs simply have their number, right? Right?

To that, I say...baloney. For a couple of reasons...

1. Even if the Spurs were the Suns' kryptonite (which, I don't really think they were) the past officially became the past after the Shaq trade. The Suns are a different team with the Big Aristotle. Not necessarily better than last year's team, or the '05 squad, but different. Any sane human knows this.

More importantly...

2. The past isn't always remembered correctly. Just because the Suns dealt Shawn Marion for Shaq doesn't mean the Steve Nash-era Suns haven't been good enough to win a title; it just means that the Suns weren't good enough to win this year. Big difference.

In the past, they were absolutely good enough.

I know injuries happen to every team in every professional sport, but the Suns have had extraordinarily bad luck over the last four seasons (aka, the Nash era).


'05 Western Conf. Finals vs. Spurs: Budding star Joe Johnson (17 ppg in '05) missed the first two games with a fractured face. The Suns fell behind 2-0 and never recovered.

'06 season: All the pieces were in place for the Suns to make a run at a 70-win season. Then Amare Stoudemire had microfracture knee surgery. Even so, they had Dallas on the ropes in the conference finals, tied two games apiece, before eventually falling in six. You mean to tell me that that team couldn't have won it all with Stoudemire?

'07 Western Conf. Semifinals vs. Spurs: Everyone remembers the ridiculous Diaw/Stoudemire suspension for game five (which ultimately decided the '07 champion. Remember, these were the two best teams in basketball last spring), but everyone forgets Nash's bloody face in the waning moments of game one. I can't remember the last time I felt so cheated at the end of an incredible sporting event. The best player on the floor that day was Steve Nash, and he had to sit the final minute of a two-point game (and the Suns had possession) because his face wouldn't stop bleeding. Maybe they would have won, maybe not. But if Nash gets cut at any other moment of the game, Suns fans aren't sitting around wondering "what if?"

So, as you can see, I'm a bit of a Suns apologist; I can't help it, I love watching Nash play. But that doesn't mean I don't make valid points (or whatever).

I'm not entirely sure what was accomplished here. And I'm freaking positive I don't know how to wrap it up (lack of talent + sleep deprivation = recipe for average literature.)

But anyway, watch the goddamn playoffs!

(Oh wait, one quick prediction: Chris Paul shreds Jason Kidd in a relatively easy five-game series win for the Hornets. I say Paul averages 30-13-5-5 and brings every Hawks/Bucks fan to tears in the process.)

-Brad Spieser (


Jeff said...

Hmmm... I think the answer might lie in the fact that in March Madness everyone pulls for the scrappy little no-name team full of white boys which doesn't exist in the NBA. Sad but true. That, and those damn brackets.

Twin Killing dot Com said...

The race issue...believe it or not, I hadn't thought about that. Unfortunately, I think that's probably part of the equation.