DOC, TANKS FOR THE MEMORIES
April 22, 2005 -- THE NBA's regular season ended in infamy Wednesday. Under the guise of integrity, the Celtics dumped games to the Cavaliers and Nets, the two teams battling for the lone remaining playoff spot in the East. Instead of playing to win, coach Doc Rivers took the liberty to redefine how professional sports are supposed to be played by announcing beforehand his starters' minutes would be severely curtailed and they wouldn't play in either fourth quarter.
This from conquerors of 16 championships, one of the most exalted franchises that's ever competed regardless whether or not something as big as eighth place was at stake.
Major League Baseball and the NFL issue edicts to teams at the end of seasons, warning them not to lay down in meaningless conflicts; even the Knicks and Wizards, with nothing to lose or gain, gave it their all Wednesday. At the same time, Boston's two opponents had everything to lose and gain.
World Federation wrestlers are aghast.
This would never happen if Jack Molinas were alive.
Yeah, I can just picture Red Auerbach, Bill Russell, Tommy Heinsohn, Bill Fitch, K.C. Jones, Satch Sanders, Jimmy Rodgers, Dave Cowens, M.L. Carr, Rick Pitino, Chris Ford, Jim O'Brien and John Carroll giving suckers such an unforgivable break. Rivers isn't even smart enough to understand the value of disposing of a dangerous team like the Nets when the opportunity presented itself. I do believe we've found the perfect match: Rivers and Jeff McInnis. Now we know what team the Cavs' imigri will be playing for, er, sitting out the last two games of next season.
Paul Silas couldn't have been more right about this unlicensed head case. Recognizing McInnis wouldn't take kindly to being demoted from starter, knowing he'd become a disruptive influence, the Cavs' coach wanted to waive him in mid-March. New owner Dan Gilbert rejected that Notion, so Silas benched him instead in a crushing loss in which LeBron James went for 56. Then the coach, whose team had dropped seven of 10, was fired the next day.
McInnis' scandalous behavior hasn't subsided since. Ten days ago he told GM Jim Paxson he'd prefer not to play at all if he continued to be subjected to coming off the bench. That cost him another benching. After Brendan Malone reinserted him into the starting lineup the following game, McInnis said his comments had been misunderstood. One way or the other, the Cavs kept crumbling.
On Tuesday against Rivers' tankers McInnis played more defective defense than normal (due south of none) on Gary Payton. After aborting a fast-break advantage, he was yanked by Malone six minutes into the gimme and didn't see any more daylight for the first half, or second, for that matter. During intermission McInnis notified the trainer/coaching staff he felt sick and didn't retake his seat with the subs until late in the third quarter.
Throughout McInnis' protracted pouting his teammates stuck by him. For some irrational reason, they sympathized with his unsuccessful struggle to find his shot and locate his man, which is probably what prompted Malone to reopen McInnis' book of chances.
That solidarity abruptly ceased Wednesday when The Incredible Sulk decided he was too ill (diagnosed as "viral syndrome" by imaginative team doctors) to accompany the Cavs to Toronto for their must-win game with the Raptors; clearly, he'd bailed on them.
Had the Cavs edged past the Nets, I suspect McInnis would have been deleted from their playoff roster. You think he cares? If Alonzo Mourning, Jimmy Jackson, Glenn Robinson and others can withhold their services and sit their way onto legit championship contenders, why shouldn't he be able to do the same, he figures.
Correctly, no doubt!