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Thread: Entertainment v fundamentals the perfect NBA Finals

  1. #1
    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Jan 2004

    Default Entertainment v fundamentals the perfect NBA Finals

    I can hear it now. TV ratings are low, scoring is low, and people are complaining. Where is the splash and dash where are the stars, where is the hype, where is the controversy, where is the fun. Over the next two weeks those questions will be asked as the ratings will be low and the scoring even lower. The casual sports fan won't be watching the NBA Finals, the casual basketball fan might watch a little, even the causal NBA fan will want more sizzle and might tune out.

    Well I say that is their loss because this will be a great, great NBA Finals. Anyone who is actually a true NBA fan will be in heaven watching these two teams play. If you hate the Pistons, then fine root against them. But please watch this series, because this is what NBA basketball needs to be

    DREW SHARP: Will fundamentals overshadow the fun?

    June 9, 2005


    Fathers, warmed by grainy recollections of basketball as a five-man symphony, gather their sons in front of the high-definition television tonight -- provided, of course, they can pry the PlayStation Portable from their carpal-tunnel clawed hands.

    "Put away your NBA Extreme video game, my son, and come watch basketball the way it was meant to be played," the father says.

    "What's that?" the son asks.

    "It's called a pass. See how they keep moving the ball, stretching the defense? I remember back in the day when the Boston Celtics wou--"

    "What's that?" the son asks.

    "That's Tim Duncan using the backboard as an offensive partner. That makes him dangerous from pretty much any angle on the floor. I remember my dad telling me when George Mikan wou--"

    "Isn't the backboard there just to bounce the ball off it during the slam dunk contest?" the son asks.

    "No, it has another use, son."

    "And what's that?" the son asks.

    "That's Rip Hamilton coming off the screen, running into the lane and pulling up for a mid-range jumper. Sweet, isn't it? Ah, I remember when Jerry West wou--"

    "Why doesn't he just take it strong to the hole, split the defenders and -- BOOYAH!!! -- slam it home?" the son asks. "That's how you roll."

    "You're not understanding. This is the purest form of basketball. See that? See how they boxed out underneath the boards, denying the offensive rebound? See how they reversed the ball offensively, moving it faster than the defense can rotate, creating an open look?

    "You're getting a real education on basketball tonight, son. ... The professional approach and the lack of showboating. ... The attention to minute detail. ... The snail's pace. ... The missed shots. ... The numerous 24-second shot clock violations. ... It's enough ... to make ... you ... ZZZZZZZZZZ."

    It's time for the Old School to take its teeth out of the glass and step forward -- or shut up. Old Schoolers have the NBA Finals they've long desired -- the league's two most fundamentally sound teams as well as its last two champions, something that hasn't happened since 1987, the last time the Celtics and Lakers swapped league titles.

    The Pistons and San Antonio Spurs share the ball as well as the acclaim, the antithesis of the rampant egomania that the basketball moralists maintain has killed the sport over the last 20 years.

    But can these two put the funk in fundamental?

    If not, it could be a hard-played, smartly executed, grind-it-up, methodically slow torture -- even to those who profess their loyalties to the virtues of substance.

    "They have won two championships with Gregg (Popovich) and not very many talk about it," said Pistons coach Larry Brown, who added Popovich to his bench in San Antonio as an assistant more than 10 years ago. "And we're the defending champs and not very many people talk about that. As far as ups and downs, that's the way it is in basketball, pro basketball. It's a marathon. You know, we've overcome every obstacle with all the supposed distractions. We managed to show up, and I think we helped the game the way we play."

    But can that translate to serious interest to places not Detroit or San Antonio?

    Even a basketball junkie might envision going cold turkey should scoring become as scarce as a hockey puck this playoff spring.

    The NBA becomes a convenient target because of its hip-hop influence. Patience has turned paper thin and if anybody dares challenge your manhood, you must respond forcefully. That attitude was an underlying motive behind the black eye of this season -- the Palace brawl of Nov. 19.

    And as much as many fans crave professionalism, they still demand personality.

    And that's the one component this series lacks.

    Where's the villain?

    The coaches are best friends. How can anybody dislike Duncan? Spurs point guard Tony Parker, though, probably merits a fair amount of envy from the male species because of his relationship with that delicious Desperate Housewife, Eva Longoria.

    Old Schoolers consider this Pistons-Spurs series as a celebration of team over temerity, but they could find themselves as easily disinterested as the fringe audience if the fundamentals overshadow the fun the next two weeks.

    The NBA Finals weren't intended to become a classroom. It's still about entertainment, isn't it?

  2. #2
    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Entertainment v fundamentals

    Spurs vs. Pistons: The Perfect Matchup

    By Michael Wilbon

    Thursday, June 9, 2005; Page E01

    If this isn't the NBA Finals you want, too bad. It's the one you should want. It's the perfect series for the folks who don't want their basketball littered with divas, the perfect series for people who believe the game has devolved into something entirely selfish and showy, the perfect series for folks who foolishly believe the pros aren't committed to playing defense, the perfect series for the conspiracy theorists who believe the NBA would go to any lengths to make sure the Finals include at least one team loaded with megastars to ensure big TV ratings.

    Spurs vs. Pistons, which begins tonight in San Antonio, is a championship confrontation that will defy virtually every stereotype commonly held about the NBA. For those clinging to the belief that foreign-born players are at best complementary pieces, there is the Spurs' starting back court of France's Tony Parker and Argentina's Olympic gold medal-winning Manu Ginobili. For those who think every game is about isolation basketball, there will be more passing and movement without the ball than any college team could dream of executing. For those who think NBA coaches are mostly guys who go along to get along, there is San Antonio's Gregg Popovich, who graduated from the Air Force Academy, majored in Soviet studies, speaks Russian and toured Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union with the U.S. Armed Forces team in the early 1970s. You don't just say "Go play" when you've spent eight years at a Division III school (Pomona-Pitzer), for one stint living in a dorm with your wife and two kids.

    On the other side, Detroit's Larry Brown has been in unspeakable discomfort with the difficulties that followed his hip surgery in November.

    Wherever he winds up next season and in whatever capacity, Brown probably should be resting comfortably on a beach somewhere instead of trying to rally a team psychologically set back after the Nov. 19 brawl which, remember, involved Pacers players but no Pistons. Instead, the 64-year-old Brown, who also has to be tired from coaching the U.S. Olympic team all summer, is chasing a second title as if his career on the sideline might end this month, which it could.

    With Brown is a star-challenged team of castoffs again riding through the league with the biggest chip-on-your-shoulder attitude you've ever seen. Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace and Chauncey Billups -- four of the Pistons starters -- play every game as if they were traded yesterday, and the result is a basketball symphony of passing, screening, cutting, shooting, rebounding and defending, set to a soundtrack of whining to the officials over every call.

    Anybody who loves basketball, or at the very least understands it, should be drooling to watch these teams play each other for a possible seven games over two weeks. Those who claim to love old-school basketball in its purity and don't want to watch Spurs-Pistons are hypocrites and frauds of the first degree. And those who are still asking "Where's LeBron? Where's Kobe? Where's Kevin Garnett? Where's the sizzle?" are probably too star-obsessed for the league to worry about capturing in the first place.

    And, yes, that's a pretty big number. The NBA is largely to blame.

    Over the years, the league has done a phenomenal job marketing superstars, from Wilt and Russell to Kareem and Oscar to Wes and E to Magic and Bird to Doc and Jordan to Shaq and Kobe. Just as hockey sells violence, baseball sells its rich history and the NFL sells the uniform (so well that replacement players can play in them and people barely notice), the NBA sells star power. So naturally, people not slavishly devoted to pro basketball tune in to the league's showcase event to see those stars. And when there aren't any, the casual fans who don't know screen from roll are going to be hard to hold.

    So the NBA has its work cut out as much as the Pistons and Spurs do in this series.

    Tim Duncan could be a star but would rather do a rain dance in his underwear than be involved in the whole star thing. Even the defending champion Pistons are hard to get ahold of outside of basketball circles. Who among them has a national presence? Well, nobody.

    The reason Rasheed Wallace works better in Detroit than in Portland is that he doesn't want to be the big scorer and recoils from the notion of being The Man. He wants to concentrate sometimes on passing, sometimes on defense. He's a scruffy irritant, but by most accounts a wonderful teammate. The biggest star on the Pistons is Larry Brown and he got more attention for this recent flirtation with the Cleveland Cavaliers than for anything else he's done this season.

    Those of us who are tired of the marketing and TV ratings issues, however, will have what ought to be a wonderful series to dive into.

    (Okay, I'll admit to diving in a little late, Game 3 in Detroit to be exact. I've not missed a Game 1 of the Finals since 1988, but the notion of seeing Vijay, Ernie, Phil, Annika and Mike Tyson go local in the same weekend is too irresistible to leave town. If you like stars, you'll love Tyson even if you don't know who's getting in the ring to fight him. Yesterday, three days before a fight he's been drooling over for six weeks, Kornheiser took one look at the Tyson opponent, Kevin McBride, and said, "Uh, you mean the guy Tyson's fighting is white? Oh-oh. This changes everything!")

    But beyond the gratuitous shots of Eva Longoria watching Parker (my TiVo is set), it's going to be about matchups and pace, defending screen-and-roll, and claiming control of games.

    Duncan is the best player in the series and Ginobili is probably the second-best. If San Antonio's Bruce Bowen guards Detroit's Rip Hamilton, it almost certainly means the lightning-quick but very slight Parker will have to guard the much bigger and stronger Billups, which leaves Ginobili to square off with Tayshaun Prince at least at one end. The matchups between Duncan and one Wallace, Nazr Mohammed and the other Wallace will make for great thought and better action.

    That Detroit doesn't have much of a bench may hurt the Pistons against San Antonio, which has a deadly shooter in Brent Barry, a stunningly underrated all-around backup guard in Beno Udrih, former starter Rasho Nesterovic and Mr. June, Robert Horry, who could be looking at a sixth championship ring.

    The people who just can't stand the lack of star power in this series should go off to watch midseason baseball or reality TV, while folks who crave basketball at its best should enjoy the first meeting of champions in the Finals since 1987, and one of the rare matchups in recent years of the game's two best teams. Six games sounds about right.

    Spurs in six.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Entertainment v fundamentals the perfect NBA Finals

    People should be excited to see these teams play. This really is clash of the titans, 2 of the best defense first teams in the league matching up and battling. I predic this is the series when Tim Duncan becomes of Legendary status similar to a Bill Russel or Kevin Machale, even a Kareem. Though this article is trying to lure the casual NBA fan in, I'm not sure they deserve to watch, seems like it taints the pureness of this series.

    (how about that, Pure and Detroit in the same thought, who'd a thunk it?)

    EDIT:What about Tayshaun Prince??
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Entertainment v fundamentals the perfect NBA Finals

    Maybe if the NBA's officiating, among other things, wasn't so biased and terrible I would watch...I can't stand to watch anybody besides the Pacers anymore, and even then it's sometimes hard to stand witness to the league's issues...

    Have fun, whoever watches this series.

  5. #5
    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Entertainment v fundamentals the perfect NBA Finals

    Quote Originally Posted by MSA2CF
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    Maybe if the NBA's officiating, among other things, wasn't so biased and terrible I would watch...I can't stand to watch anybody besides the Pacers anymore, and even then it's sometimes hard to stand witness to the league's issues...

    Have fun, whoever watches this series.

    OK, so tell me if the NBA officiating is bias, who will it favor in this series.

  6. #6
    Member Sollozzo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Entertainment v fundamentals the perfect NBA Finals

    I love it when people complain about officiating.

    Do you think if the league was "biased", that the Spurs and the Pistons would be in the NBA finals?

    Don't you think that if it were "biased", the Miami Heat would have been in the finals? I'm sure the Heat would be alot better for them to market with the superstar power of Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Entertainment v fundamentals the perfect NBA Finals

    UB, I'm not so much talking about team bias in this series, more individual-type, such as the infamous Yao series.

    PFA, Yes. No. I don't think the NBA shoots for the best stories of the now all the time, sometimes they work on storylines for years at a time...Creates suspense.

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