By Ryan McNeill
What is with all of doom and gloom surrounding the NBA this spring?
Between people complaining about Miami losing in the first round, fans feeling sorry for Phoenix being punished for their players breaking a well known rule and now complaints about the lottery it’s making me more than a little grumpy this evening.
I’m sick of writers and casual fans flapping their gums about all of the things that they perceive to be wrong with the NBA. Where were these fans when a far superior team lost to Golden State? They were rallying around the underdog of course. So, now that a weaker team like Golden State has paved the way for a team like Utah, what gives you the right to moan and groan about the Phoenix/San Antonio series being the real Western Conference Finals? You don’t. When you jumped on Golden State’s bandwagon you forfeited that right.
Another thing that has gotten under my skin today has been fans ripping LeBron James for not shooting in the dying seconds last night and instead passing to wide open teammate. Are these the same fans that rip on Kobe Bryant for playing selfishly? I have a sneaking suspicions they are. As a coach I would much rather see one of my players that is ice cold (James) pass the ball out to my top three point shooter who connected six times from beyond the arc in the previous game. Isn’t that why Cleveland pays Donyell Marshall the big bucks? To hit open threes? Besides, James is a right handed player cutting through the left side of the paint. For him to have hit that shot he would have needed to get off his shot against Tayshaun Prince with his off hand while Rasheed Wallace was lurking to try and pin his shot. If you’re a gambling man you would want James to pass to Marshall nine times out of ten.
There wasn’t a NBA team in Toronto until I was midway through high school so the first NBA team that I followed closely was Utah because of Karl Malone, John Stockton and Jerry Sloan. Both of those players are long removed from this franchise yet Jerry Sloan is still their head coach and is just as tough as I remember him being when I first started following this franchise. This sprind he has a bunch of second round picks, journey men and young players coming together andplaying some great basketball. Did anyone see this franchise being able to complete their rebuilding so quickly? Despite being a closet Jazz fan I was quick to dismiss their chances of advancing out of the first round when the playoffs began a couple weeks. Now this team is making me eat my words and I’m more than happy to do so as Deron Williams has become the next Jason Kidd in many writers eyes, Carlos Boozer is finally earning his big pay cheque and Andrei Kirilenko has rebounded from his emotional breakdown early in the Houston series to be one of the most dominant players on the defensive end so far in the playoffs. Throw in the heart of Derek Fisher and the toughness of rookie Paul Milsap and it’s been easy to root for Utah in the playoffs.
I wish that basketball fans could get over the Stoudemire/Diaw suspensions and enjoy the way that Jerry Sloan has a team full of second round picks playing out of their minds and the way one of the great young players in the game is playing selfless ball.
Don’t get it twisted, I’m not trying to diminish Golden State’s Cinderella run or rip on Detroit after a big win, I’m just trying to show that there are a lot of great things for fans to watch for in these playoffs still.
If you can’t appreciate the great play currently underway in the playoffs then maybe you should watch the NHL playoffs…