AREA 55 NEWS YOU CAN TAKE TO THE BANK!!!!
Our next game in BLF may be the last we see of our Pacers for the 2011-2012 Season. Keep this in mind.
Let’s conduct ourselves in this game with class. We want no incidents. No fights. No behavior that would in any way reflect badly on our patron and benefactor, Roy Hibbert or on our team, the Indiana Pacers. We represent Roy, Indianapolis and the State of Indiana. Let’s show everyone watching the game that we are not like Miami. Let's not do anything that any of us might come to regret.
Be forewarned. I'm not saying this will be easy. The “Bandwagon Effect” is likely to be very present in our upcoming game. Lots of benighted Heat “fans” are likely to be in evidence. I say this with a degree of wonderment, as I find it hard to understand how anyone could be a Heat fan given the conduct of the Heat team in this series. But we all know they'll be there. Ignore them.
The order of the day is this: Do not jaw or interact with any Heat fans at the game. Blow off anything they might say or do. Keep your focus where it belongs – trying to elevate the noise level in BLF and giving our team – one that we can really be proud of -- all the help and encouragement we can.
As for how we handle the Miami Heat team Thursday, well, as far as I’m concerned, anything short of flaming bad taste, clamoring for actual injury to a Heat player, or the use and/or chanting of profanities will be perfectly OK.
Go to it. Give the Heat all kinds of hell. To my mind, the Heat’s flagrant fouling in this series and their total lack of class merit well-deserved abuse from us. But, like I said, our main focus as Area 55ers should be on our guys – doing everything we can to lift them, enervate them, encourage them, and buoy them.
Beating Miami Thursday night will not be easy. But we all know it’s possible. We’ve done it twice already. We can do it again. I can think of no more fitting time or venue for that to occur than Thursday night at BLF.
The Miami Heat - One Class Act. Why do I say the Heat lack class? Well, to me it’s patently obvious. First there’s this -- the first Flagrant One Foul called in the series. It came from Heat “Superstar” Dwayne Wade and was visited intentionally upon a totally defenseless Darren Collison. To me, this foul epitomizes the poutiness, the sense of entitlement, and the ongoing level of dirty play we’ve seen and now come to expect from Dwayne Wade and his teammates. To my mind, it was this blatant and totally unnecessary foul – one that could well have served to end Darren Collison’s basketball playing career -- that inaugurated the ensuing nastiness that typifies Miami.
Here’s Wade’s foul. Anyone with a brain bigger than that of a nematode worm knows it was a Flagrant Two that should have made for Wade’s immediate ejection and his suspension in the following game. As usual, the NBA did nothing. It seldom does to its cozened “Golden Boys”.
Then there was Udonis Haslem’s Flagrant Foul on Tuesday night against Tyler Hansbrough. This foul was also totally intentional and retaliatory in nature. It was committed with two hands and with no aim other than to expressly hit Hansbrough hard in the face. Haslem made no attempt at all to make contact with the ball. The foul was inflicted based on Haslem's perceived “need” to administer retribution on Hansbrough for an earlier foul that Hansbrough inflicted on Dwayne. However, in fouling Wade, Hansbrough clearly went for the ball and actually succeeded in getting it. However, on his follow-through, Hansbrough raked Dwayne’s forehead and the demigod emerged with a cut over his eye. Although it was debatable, Hansbrough was then assessed a Flagrant One. Minutes later Haslem’s foul, a clear Flagrant Two, followed.
In handling Haslem's attack, the referees, essentially ignored the rules and assessed only a Flagrant One. Not one NBA pundit that saw it agreed with the referees. Every one of them, to a man, agreed it was a Flagrant Two.
Here it is, judge for yourselves if Udonis was going for the ball:
Haslem’s foul was then followed by something totally uncalled for and unquestionably worse. This was Dexter Pittman’s flagrant foul on Lance Stephenson. Its timing was significant. It came in “garbage time” on Tuesday after both teams had their benches and the Heat had the game all sewn up. In fact, Pittman’s foul occurred with only 19 seconds left on the clock.
It happened this way: A rebound was coming down, Lance came toward the hoop to go for it. See Lance approach, and totally ignoring the ball, Pittman then deliberately threw an elbow to Lance's throat clotheslining him. The foul had its intended effect. Lance was injured. He's questionable for Thursday’s game as a result. For a time, there was speculation that Stephenson's collarbone was broken. X-rays fortunately proved negative.
Pittman, inexplicably, was given only a Flagrant One by the referees. The hit was administered intentionally and in patent retaliation for Stephenson’s having made a “choke” sign in an earlier game. The choke sign came from the Pacer bench and was directed sarcastically by Stephenson at LeBron "The King" James after LeBron missed a technical free throw. LeBron claimed afterwards not to have seen Stephenson's sign and dismissed both it and Stephenson as irrelevancies, and not worth even thinking about. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen. For some reason it seemed to have inordinately rankled other lesser lights on the Heat's bench.
After the choke sign was given, Juwon Howard, a Heat benchwarmer, confronted Stephenson about it after the game. He tried to invade a Pacers practice ostensibly to confront Stevenson about it again a few days later. He then jawed some more with Stephenson about it in the next game when the Pacers were warming up. Stephenson then publicly for giving the sign.
The apology was apparently not enough for LeBron or the Heat. Dexter Pittman, an inept and little used scrub, was apparently selected to serve as the Chosen One's ultimate agent for imposing retribution on Stephenson. See, you have to understand that LeBron, the Chosen One, is an invaluable piece in the Heat's game plan. Unlike Pittman, LeBron is a player that is not expendable. LeBron is too important to the Heat’s winning chances to be allowed the luxury of commiting a little retaliatory dirty work of his own on a benchie like Lance. That might put him at risk of suspension. Thus, first Howard's and then Pittman's actions should be seen in this context. Both were LeBron's proxies. The King was apparently more miffed at Lance's choke gesture than he publicly admitted.
Anyway, here's the Pittman foul on Stephenson.
Pittman plainly reveled in the injury he inflicted on Stephenson. After administering the foul -- a shot on a par with Wade's earlier shove on Collison - he winked stealthily to a teammate – reportedly to Juwon Howard. The wink to conveyed an unspoken message: “Mission accomplished.”
You can view Dexter’s wink here:
LeBron and Dwayne took great pleasure in the Pittman foul tool. They thought it to be extremely funny. Their mutual delight and mirth is registered in the following series of stills taken immediately after the foul was committed:
Of course the Golden Boys afterwards denied having anything to do with what Pittman did to Stephenson. Post-game both of these coddled NBA heroes professed to never enjoying seeing another player intentionally fouled or hurt. However, and in this regard, it is worth mentioning that Danny Granger and David West were also both injured on Tuesday night. LeBron was involved in Granger’s rolled ankle (although he did not appear to intentionally inflict it). And LeBron himself admitted to having laughed when a Heat player (probably Shane Battier) arguably intentionally rolled into David West’s knee thereby causing West to be knocked to the ground. LeBron later said seeing West on the ground made him laugh and he claimed that this prompted West to try to take a retaliatory foul at him.
At any rate, the nature of the Heat's fouling was so blatant that the sleepy drones in the NBA's refereeing office found themselves under a great deal of pressure to actually do something about it. It wasn't much. As this Newsletter gets posted, Haslem and Pittman have been rightly suspended. Hansbrough’s foul – probably by way of compensation – was for unexplained reasons upgraded to a Flagrant Two. Hansbrough was not suspended, however.
Wade’s foul on Collison, per an earlier NBA “review,” was inexplicably left as only a Flagrant One by the NBA. Nothing was done about Juwon Howard's role in everything and nothing was done about Wade and LeBron's suspicious laughter at Pittman's assault on Lance Stephenson.
As things stand, Wade and James’ involvement as instigators of the Pittman foul remains an open and totally unanswered question. The Heat denied all media access to Pittman (presumably to eliminate any inquiries on this point), and the Golden Boys, of course, are denying all involvement. How much the Heat's coach, Eric Spoelstra, knew or was involved in the fouling also remains unclear. If he was innocent, he comes across as a total simp with no control over his team. If he was involved, no one is talking.
Anyway, the Miami Heat has now moved up to the top spot in my own personal list of hated NBA teams. Before this series started, the Chicago Bulls occupied this dubious position.
For me, it will now always be the Miami Heat -- or any other NBA team or teams that the NBA's Siamese twins, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, may choose to join in the future. I merely disliked them before this series. Now I loathe and despise them. They have come to represent, in my opinion, virtually everything wrong with the star-emphasized, money driven, winner-take-all dictatorship that David Stern has made of the NBA.
Ah, but there’s still more feeding my antipathy to the Heat. I haven’t mentioned the Heat fans. Let’s pause a moment to reflect on them.
On Tuesday night, Miami fans threw objects at the Pacers TV comcaster, Chris Denari. They spilled drinks on the Pacers as the Pacers left the court. They chanted “Pacers Suck” in the waning moments of the game.
Thank you South Beach. Class act. We'll remember.
I don’t know about you, but to me nobody on the Miami Heat should be regarded any longer as a role model. Why any parent would encourage -- or even permit one of his kids -- to wear a Heat jersey is beyond me. Maybe the NBA thinks the LeBron, Dwayne, and their nondescript Heat teammates are just the thing to gin up more NBA revenue and sell custom gear. Maybe the referees will continue to coddle them and turn a blind eye to their behavior. My guess is they will. There used to be rules and “Jordan Rules” in the NBA. Now, I guess the same dichotomy applies to LeBron and Dwayne. Maybe the classless town of Miami can love and be proud of them. But I don't see why anyone else would.
But they're great basketball players, aren't they?
Well, in my book there's a lot more to life than being an NBA Superstar – putting up big numbers every night, being ubiquitous on Sports Center, and showing up to read a teleprompter in “NBA Cares” commercials. Ultimately, it’s more important to be able to look yourself in a mirror in the morning and be able to say that you’re a decent person and not an *******. And right now, there’s virtually no one on the Miami Heat able to do that.
I’ll end this rant thusly:
Part of me – the biggest part of me – wants to see the Pacers put an epic fail on the Heat on Thursday. I’m not saying it will happen. But it could. If we play Thursday the right way, the way we all know the Pacers can play, the way we did earlier in the series, it could happen. But if it doesn’t, I promise I won’t whine or be angry. I'll be thankful to Roy for the season. And I’ll be very proud of Frank Vogel and my Pacers, and thankful for the fact that, unlike the members and coaching staff of the Miami Heat, I know none of them to be ********.
Let’s come to Thursday's game early, 55ers. Be in your seats for everything. Let’s go home hoarse. Bring signs. Be loud. Try to be in unison. Honor our team. Help them.
And when the game is over, whatever the final score may be, applaud our Pacers, and Roy, as they all leave the court. Stand up and thank them for the great season they have given us.
GO PACERS! GO AREA 55!