YOU GOTTA LOVE THIS GAME
March 12, 2004 -- WHILE I loathe Jerry Colangelo's decision to sell the Suns (the moment Marriott puts the Camelback Inn on the market I'm out of Arizona) there are still 999 reasons to love this game. These are just some:
* Because of the NBA League Pass on DirecTV.
I love the ability to surf the satellite and watch a Clippers-Warriors game . . . catch a post-game interview with Tracy McGrady, in which he humbly brands his 62-point effort a "great performance."
. . . Observe a Palace of Pistons fans hanging around to the end of a 38-point Bulls blowout to cheer anything Darko Milicic does during 10 minutes of garbage time.
. . . Listen to Tommy Heinsohn's detached critique regarding the refs' treatment of Shaq.
"You cannot establish defensive position against him. He's allowed to just back into you as forcefully as he wants with that 300-pound body of his," ranted the former Celtic player/coach and current TV commentator. "He gets away with more than any big man in league history. When's the last time he was called for a 3-second violation? His two feet never leave the lane. The league widened the lane to try to counteract Wilt's dominance; the refs reduced it for Shaq."
* I love this game because the Garden crowd grumbles at the sight of Frank Williams wearing Bernard King's No. 30.
. . . Because of Terry Porter's loyalty to Mike Schuler (in forced retirement the last few years), hiring his former Blazer coach to assist him on the Bucks bench.
. . . Because of Lawrence Frank's loyalty to Brian Hill. Upon replacing Byron Scott his first move was to hire the guy who gave him his first NBA coaching break in Vancouver.
. . . Because of Eddie Jordan's loyalty to Tom Young. Before the Wizards even made a commitment, his former Rutgers' coach was part of his staff.
* I love this game because Vlade Divac plays point center like Meadowlark Lemon/ Magic. If Jerry West knew he'd be this good, he never would've traded him for Kobe.
. . . Tim Duncan constantly encourages teammates with a love tap to the back of the head.
. . . Steve Francis acknowledged Luke Ridnour's expertly executed crossover after the Sonic rookie beat him off the dribble.
. . . Grant Hill zealously refuses to stay down when no one would blame him for taking the remaining money and calling it a career after so many ankle operations.
. . . Jerry Sloan is a dinosaur dominatrix in a player's league. Show up on time, play hard, keep your strings in and rubber bands off your wrist, that's all he asks and you, too, can a be a member of his playoff contending irregulars.
. . . Hubie Brown's two unit, 10-deep philosophy. "That's what got him fired in New York," Chuck Daly chuckled on WFAN.
. . . Jason Kidd has a hand or his head in every play.
. . . Kevin Garnett never takes off a game.
* I love this game because Jason Williams, Earl Watson and Chucky Atkins know its history and revere those who made it great.
. . . Because of the respect shown Danny Whelan by Willis Reed, Bill Bradley, Walt Frazier and Dick Barnett, who acted as pall bearers for the former Knick trainer.
. . . Method Man eats cotton candy at courtside like a real fan instead of pretending to be one.
. . . Al Harrington stands at attention during the national anthem with his hand over his heart.
. . . Argentinean Manu Ginobili does the "Shammgod" as well as any American.
. . . Of the nightly professionalism exhibited by P.J. Brown, Malik Rose, Aaron McKie, Eric Snow, Eric Williams, Elton Brand and Voshon Lenard.
. . . Perseverance pays off (Speedy Claxton, Raja Bell, Damon Jones, Carlos Arroyo) or you can come out of nowhere (Flip Murray, Stephan Jackson, Chris Anderson) and be back there before you know it if you're careless.
. . . A non All-Star like Chauncey Billups is one of the top five feared players at crunch time.
. . . Steve Francis and Cutino Mobley went to their pockets for 50G when Calvin Murphy was trying to solicit money to buy a new van for his charity work with kids.
. . . Bobby Jackson has never forgotten the young wife and son of former Timberwolves teammate Malik Sealy.
* I love this game because of Shaq's dad, the mothers of Mark Jackson, Ray Allen, Terrell Brandon, Jamal Mashburn, Lindsay Hunter, Eric Snow and Amare Stoudemire and the grandmother of Baron Davis.
And, no matter what I write, Allen Iverson never fails to show my wife and family the utmost respect.