Spurs Beat Suns Fair and Square

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How many times has Phoenix beaten San Antonio in a playoff series since Tim Duncan was drafted? Ummm, none, right? Every time there's an excuse. This year the yammering classes thinks the reason the Suns lost a 7 game series is because two of their players were suspended for a game.

Each team has 5 players on the floor, another 7 on the bench (plus the 3 dudes not suited up sitting directly behind the bench), and only 2 rushed to the altercation out of these 20. Not even Marcus Banks, the certifiable hothead from Las Vegas ran on the floor.

Mark Cuban defended the Spurs, and the leave-the-bench rule on his blog: the reasoning being you can't measure intent, and don't want to ever escalate brawls 'cause that's when somebody gets injured.

First, let me go on the record as saying that in the event that a vote comes up to change the rules about suspensions for players leaving the bench, I will vote against changing it.

Why ? Because its incredibly simple to educate players about the rule. Its a rule they fully understand and they understand the consequences of violating the rule. That makes the NBA stronger because it removes uncertainty. Can it result in a game(s) being impacted , yes. However, that impact results from an action a player knew violated the rules and was a mistake. There is no uncertainty about it. All they had to do was not leave the bench.

Pat Burke the token Irish player on the league (on the Suns no less!) reiterated that every year the league mentions how seriously they take this rule.

On the suspensions: “I found out yesterday. I had the television on and I saw the suspension went through. It's funny, I kept it quiet (Tuesday,) but I thought all along that they were going to get suspended. We have an NBA meeting at the beginning of every year, and they tell us about the rules and the rule changes. And that's one of the biggest rules. It's cut and dry. You step over that line during an altercation and you're out.''

So wasn't as if there were other options for the league to retain credibility. Also, there were games 1,2,3,4 and 6, and Spurs won three of those too, despite getting lots of questionable calls against them (like in game six in first q sometime: phoenix gets away with 24 second violation, ball obviously didn't hit the rim, Duncan is jumping up and down making sign for shot clock violation, but nothing...). Stern has nothing to do with individual referee calls, whoever claims that is ignorant. The better team gets through, no matter what. The losers whine.

If anything, Stern would rather Phoenix advance because high scoring no defense games are better for ratings, allegedly anyway. I know watching the Nets Cavs game 5 was horrible for my eyes. I'm still traumatized.

Henry Abbott from TrueHoop writes, in part:

Mike D'Antoni really does not exude leadership in big moments. That screaming is appropriate if a car is parked on your foot, and maybe if your pants are on fire. I love the guy, but it's nuts after a measly iffy call. I could put a camera on him, and a camera on Gregg Popovich, and show you the two tapes. Anyone who watched both tapes would know that Popovich's team was better prepared to win. Winning is, on some level, an attitude -- a confidence, a poise. Phoenix gets that attitude from Nash more than D'Antoni....

There's a great Tim Duncan story from his college days. Can't remember where I heard it. But Duncan and his Wake Forest teammate Randolph Childress were talking to coach Dave Odom. Childress was looking at the ground. Duncan reached out, touched his finger to his teammate's chin, and lifted. I asked Duncan, years later, why he did that: to admonish Childress for not looking at his coach, or to lift his teammate's spirit? Duncan seemed not able to even understand the first idea. Of course it was to help his teammate out. If we knew everything there was to know about Tim Duncan, I suspect he'd be respected as one of the great teammates in the NBA. He infuses his team with confidence in so many ways. Even in his post-game press conference, he talks about how great his opponents Steve Nash, his teammate Bruce Bowen, and his opponents the Utah Jazz are.
UPDATE: Temper your urge to declare the playoffs over, the Western Conference Finals boring, or the NBA a joke. I know you may have this or that beef with this or that league official. But it's about the players. They are the ones killing themselves. The players who are left standing -- the San Antonio Spurs and Utah Jazz -- have worked like dogs to get this far, and play amazing basketball. They would appreciate your respect. (And don't tell me it's all about the money. The players who do it just for the money don't typically make it this far, and players barely get paid extra for all the work of the playoffs.) For years, these players have been eating right, getting stronger, learning to trust teammates, refining plays, perfecting their release, becoming a team, doing anything imaginable to make themselves the best teams in the NBA -- just to get here and enjoy the respect of people like you and me. You insult their effort if you do anything but celebrate it. This is going to be a fantastic series between two teams that very much deserve to be here.

The Spurs won, the Suns didn't. End of story. Next faux-pundit who claims there should be an asterisk next to the Spurs win is forever on the list of idiots.

update 7/23/07, maybe there was a slight bit of fix, by the name of Donaghy

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This page contains a single entry by swanksalot published on May 19, 2007 7:02 PM.

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