Observations from game 2 of the NBA Finals

15 Jun

I debated whether or not it’d be a good idea to go down to OKC and scalp a ticket. I’d already dropped a fair amount on game 6 of the Spurs game. It wasn’t going to get any better than the feeling I had when I left Chesapeake Arena last Wednesday night.

On the other hand I also knew there was no guarantee that I’d ever get to watch my favorite team in the NBA Finals. In life and especially sports there are nor guarantees. I’ve seen teams get so close to the title and think that it’d just be a matter of time before they were back for another chance at it (Dan Marino, ’98 Jets, ’93 Suns).

You just never know how small that championship window is (just ask Blazers fans). So I used my free bus voucher and went down to the OKC. I had a lot of time to kill so I went down to this basketball court down in the park downtown and played some 21. Some guy from the local news came down and took some video of us and the pickup game at the other basket ( I hope they don’t run any of the footage of me airballing 15 foot jumpers my shot was OFFFFF!!!).

After getting some work done at the library I headed to the OKC Hooters to get my wing fix. Sure enough one of the best players to come out of the University of Miami was sitting down and cooling out with this cute Betty at the table next to me. I wasn’t trying to jock him like everybody else was–taking pictures and interrupting his conversation. But I did throw up a “U” with my hands and yell out “2001 Cane’s baby!”  as I was leaving .He threw it back at me and laughed.

The stage was set for an exciting night. The media was in full effect for sure. I saw “Mr. Waxahachie” Desmond Mason in full regale and camera crews lined up all the streets. There were all kinds of banners and signs pointing the event that was the NBA Finals.

Yet still it didn’t hit me until I got into my seat (once again, there isn’t a bad seat in the house I sat in the last row in section 330 and I could still see EVERYTHING) and the introductions began. There was a video montage of past Finals champion and they showed a clip of Pat Riley (looking like Michael Douglas) in ’88 talking about the Lakers repeating. I was the only one who booed the screen.

Chills went through my body as the moment came upon me. The lights dimmed and the “Niggas in Paris” beat started. I was flooded with the memories of being 15 and watching the Bulls and Phoenix Suns player intros on television.

The crowd erupted as they introduced KD the same way the Bulls fans used to lose it when they introduced MJ (fitting in so many ways–especially since a couple analyst say that the ‘Peake is the loudest arena since old Chicago Stadium). When the PA guy said “at 6’9 from University of Texas”, I got REALLY hype and began jumping up and down–screaming like a wild man.

This was the beginning of dynasty and maybe just maybe KD’s era would be like Jordan’s was in Chicago. It got loud in that arena and it only got louder.

Bullet points from last night:

1. I truly hate the Heat franchise. They have now entered my short list of despicable sports entities. They came in wearing their all black uni’s like they owned the joint. Seemed fitting. We were the good guys and they were the villains. So it goes.

To me D-Wade is a punk ass flopper who goes down at the drop of the hat ( they were showing an all time greatest playoff layups on Sportscenter last week and one from Wade’s playoff run against the Pistons made it. He got an AND1 on it but there was no contact whatsoever. This is why people think the league is rigged. More on this later).

I don’t like Lebron. Battier though one of the smartest and fundamentally sound players in the NBA is dead to me. He came off as a real nuisance last night. Chalmers is my least favorite Jayhawk of all time (Quit crying and play basketball!!!).

I could see Mike Miller in a trailer park in Colorado somewhere making Meth with Chris “Birdman” Anderson. Chris Bosh is a buster too (Fuck Dallas Lincoln).

Haslem is an ugly motherfucker. That to me is reason enough not to like him.

I won’t even waste the space in this post to get into the other players. Fuck the Heat. I feel like you have to be a fundamental D-bag to sign with that franchise. I don’t like the ’06 Heat. I don’t like PJ Brown, Jeff Van Gundy dragging Heat teams.

I think Erik Spoelstra is a tool who spits out canned, corny ass responses. He reminds me of a newly appointed substitute teacher who has posters of Gandhi quotes in his office.

I don’t like the Heat fans (they annoy me more than Laker fans–my buddy Adrian a rare exception).

I’ll go as far as to say that I’ll never set foot inside the Miami city limits unless I were getting paid a substantial fee to do so. And fuck the state of Florida for giving us Jeb Bush, and ultimately George Bush.

2.This year’s playoff officiating was at an all time worst last night. It was a joke. It was a fucking travesty. I thought game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals was bad. I thought last night’s was equally as bad if not worse (if only because I’m a Thunder fan).

I didn’t pay 300 dollars to see the referees blow their whistles all night. The flow of the game kept getting interrupted because of the official’s interference. It’s the fucking Finals. Let the motherfuckers play!

And if you are going to call the shit, call it both ways. Had the script been flipped and that was Lebron getting hacked, they’d have for sure called it (big ups to KD for not making any excuses during the post game interview–he only would admit to missing the shot). this is what bothers me. Teams like the Lakers, the Heat (hell even Jordan’s Bull’s) don’t need the help. So either swallow the fucking whistle or call it both ways.

There were at least 5 or 6 shitty calls (or no-calls) that had the crowd incensed last night:

There was a bullshit charge call on Harden late in the game when he’d gotten mugged twice on the same possession (only seconds before the call ).

There was of course the  no call during the critical Durant possession at the end.

There was the weak ass goal tending call early on in the game that gave the Heat 2 points.

Shane Battier somehow picked up a foul when he was nowhere near the play that should have been Chris Bosh’s 2nd foul early into the first quarter.

There was a dubious offensive foul on Perkins during the fourth quarter

and a couple of ticky tack foul calls against Durant that got him on the bench early into the game.

The night seemed dangerously close to the officiating in the ’06 Heat-Mavs series, as well as game 6 of Kings-Lakers.

Which makes me wonder if what Rasheed Wallace said about the “NBA being some WWE shit” isn’t true (only makes me love that guy even more–only Sapp’s Tagliabue is a slavemaster quote feel more spot on in my opinion)?

I’m not going to go as far to call David Stern a crook, but it does make you wonder though. I am a paying customer. I have spent hundreds of dollars(and countless hours) on the NBA product. As a consumer I believe I am entitled to receive proper compensation for the time and money spent following the sport.

So if I’m not getting “the bang for my buck” then it means there is an imbalance between what I’m paying and what I am receiving.

And if David Stern knows there is a severe problem with the quality of officiating (and has been for at least ten years) then Stern is ultimately responsible for the lack of quality product on the floor. By not fixing it, either he is apart of the problem (i.e. doing some Vince MacMahon shit) or doesn’t give a shit and only cares about the bottom line ( like Phil Knight of NIKE).

Of course whenever someone yells conspiracy, respected journalists like Colin Cowherd and Mike Greenberg always say, “Why would David Stern (or Bob Arum) cheat? What would they have to gain? That would be a crime, why would they risk everything they have to do such a thing? That would be criminal and they could go to jail for fixing the draft lottery (or Pacquiao fight)”

Which is a valid argument, until you ask the same questions of every crook who got rich in this country. Come the fuck on! They act like the Kennedy family, or Rockefeller family, or Bush family, or ANY mafia head never did dirt to get where they were (and continued to do so in order to maintain that stature). Our government commits severely criminal acts every day and these guys ask the “what could be gained” question.

To quote Ed Lover, “Get tha Fuck OUTTA HERE WIT DAT BULLSHIT SON!!!!”

Which brings me to my frustration with sports. Sports is supposed to be the last vestige of fairness we have in society. It is the one place where talent rules supreme over everything else. But politics and corruption (see NCAA, MLB, NFL, FIFA, NBA,Olympics)is everywhere in sports. Normally I can ignore that shit and just concentrate on the beauty that is occurring on the court, or field. But the politics is threatening to overtake the sport.

I should be talking about how I had the chance to see Dwayne Wade, Lebron, and KD put on this incredible show of speed, power and creativity in person instead of mulling over the rumor that Dwayne Wade is 21-3 in games that Danny Crawford officiates.

And that is what frustrates me. It wasn’t just Thunder fans and players who were robbed last night. NBA fans were robbed of what could have been a fantastic finish and NBA Finals Classic moment. How bad ass would it have been to see if Durant makes those free throws and see how the heat would respond? Perhaps it’d have been an overtime classic that would be a small footnote in what could be a finals match-up?

Now we’ll never know.

With all that being said, I still thought the Thunder would do it. I’d been to nothing but victories this year and seen this before. Early deficits turned into a classic comeback victory because of clutch defense and KD’s silky smooth offensive skills.

Even with how badly we’d been playing even with all the iffy officiating, I didn’t think we could be denied. Every bad call that went against us whipped the crowd into a bloodthirsty frenzy. I was screaming at the top of my lungs, leaving it all in the rafters. Giving the boys my all because win or lose I wanted to do my part as a fan.

And when we cut to 2 points and had the ball with less than 15 seconds left and Gary Glitter’s “Rock ‘n Roll 2” was blaring, I knew it was about to be over. The Thunder were going to win and everyone whipping their T-shirts around were about to erupt when our boy KD did his thang.

But it didn’t come. The shot was off and the Heat fit their final two free throws ( I was on the other side of the court and didn’t see the foul until I got to a TV later that night). The crowd booed lustily for Danny Crawford’s head. People emptied out onto the street gnashing their teeth in frustration.

In a less civilized league/society/city I could foresee a rain of objects being tossed onto the floor as players and media alike escaped the carnage for the safety under the tunnels. I wanted blood. And I’m sure I wasn’t alone.

With all the bitching about officiating it has to be said that the Thunder didn’t play well enough to win that game. Head coaching great Jimmy Johnson used to say that, you have to play well enough where a ref’s call won’t lose the game for you.

They spotted them a 16 point lead early in the first quarter. There were missed defensive assignments as Battier destroyed it with open 3’s. Too many free throws could’ve eaten into that deficit. The inability to get those 50-50 balls and defensive rebounds hurt the team’s chances as well. Lastly there were too many bad possessions.

I thought about the night in its entirety on the way home. I wasn’t sure if I had fun. The refs’ whistles were a constant disruption. I think also the stakes of the event led to some anxiety early into the game. Having the ‘win or die’ mind frame made it difficult to enjoy on one level. But I was able  to adjust that mentality and just dig the fact that I was at Finals game, seeing my favorite team play.

What a great bookend for the season. I had the pleasure of seeing them opening night on Xmas with one of my best friends. I had been able to see them blow out the Chris Paul Clippers on a night that Obama was in town on business. I was luckily enough to have floor tickets and see Kevin Love put up a nasty line (he had 50 and 20) against the boys in  triple overtime thriller (KD had put up 40 plus points himself).

I had the pleasure of seeing the legendary Spurs get closed out the week before. Now I was attending game 2 of the Finals. I was a lucky man. I didn’t have to go to Oakland to see a Warriors game anymore. The best fans in the NBA were in OKC.  I could picture myself living in “the city” owning season tickets. What a treat that would be.

Who knows? I could just as easily see ticket prices going up (which would be justifiable if they could keep Harden and Ibaka after next year) and people getting priced out next season.

Regardless I had been a good fan and it left it all in the arena. My head was pounding and my throat felt raw, and my team had lost. But before the playoffs started I had told myself that no matter where the Thunder had placed, I was just going to enjoy the ride, and keep expectations to a minimum.

That being said, I still feel confident about the boy’s chances. They played arguably their worst game of the playoff’s, the Heat had gotten the majority of calls, KD never was able to get into a rhythm because of foul trouble, and yet still the Heat barely escaped with a four point win.

The Heat should be very afraid. They have a dog fight on their hands and it will only get harder when they come back to Oklahoma City. Whoever wins the title this year will have to earn that motherfucker. We are in for a classic one.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: