And so timely! I've finally found the time and energy to check in. As you may know, I couldn't watch the second half of Game 7 because I was on a plane. There were no snakes on said plane, but the flight was still harrowing because I felt trapped, not knowing what was going on. Becoming a Soduku grandmaster didn't help me any. Neither did reading a few chapters of "Haunted." Chuck Palahnuik is one disturbed mofo, by the way, but I guess he's entitled to be, if you know anything about his life story. When we landed and I was finally able to check the score on my phone's internet thingy, you can only imagine my disappointment, finding out we lost in OT. I mean, down 14 at half, a blow out I could handle. Losing in OT? I couldn't believe it. It was a grumpy few hours for your humble author, to be kind.
Anyway I still haven't seen Game 7 and I'm not planning on doing so. I learned all the relevant details within a few hours of its conclusion and saw the same highlights as everyone else. From what I gather, Tim was a monster all night but simply had nothing left for OT, Manu was once again amazing during the 4th quarter, until the last 28 seconds or so, and the rest of the Spurs pretty much played on the same level they had for most of this series. Does that cover it? So...season over, and in heartbreaking fashion. That's usually how it seems to end for us. Ever since the Timmeh/Sickness/Wee Rapping Frenchman Holy Trinity was assembled, it's pretty hard to send them home with their tails between their legs. I'm over it already, I really am.
All year long I've told everyone that while obviously I want the Spurs to win every game they play, that I'm not like some insane deranged Yankee lovin' no-life havin' fucko that feels it's their birthright to win every championship. At the same time, I've been around long enough as a sports fan to know that nothing - NOTHING hurts as much as losing a Super Bowl/Finals. And I really wasn't looking forward to us going down that road, with `Sheed talking shit to us, Mason taunting us, and their fans throwing god knows what on our guys. Not my deal. I'm perfectly cool making a contract with my basketball team. They don't have to go the Finals every year, but if they do go, they gotta win. Period. So that's my rationalization about that.
Still...Dallas? The fucking Mavericks? It's very hard to swallow.
Here's my homerish spin on it. I'm perfectly aware this might be the stupidest thing I've ever written and it could lead people to stop reading me forever, but here goes:
We lost Game 7 because it was simply asking too much for us to beat the Mavericks for the sixth time in seven games.
You read it right. I think we were 5-1 going into game 7. The zebras completely assfucked us in games 3 and 4. We totally outplayed them, but the refs helped them to win. I totally believe this. I will go to my grave believing this. You cannot convince me I'm wrong about this. Does this mean the refs have never helped us? Of course it doesn't. God knows Timmeh went to the line a billion times in Games 6 and 7. But so did Dirk in Game 3. And neither Timmeh nor The Sickness (who was on his way to a pantheon Sickness game that night) deserved to foul out in Dallas. I've never been more livid at officiating in my entire life. I watched game 4 with a bunch of people who didn't care who won, and nobody could understand some of the foul calls, especially the one on Bowen at the end of regulation. I'm not saying there was some conspiracy, or some malicious reason the refs had for calling the games the way they did. It could have been as simple as them just sucking at their jobs for two straight games; two separate crews being equally incompetent and all their suckiness affecting the Spurs by sheer coincidence. I suppose it's possible.
Or it could be that we're "boring" and their owner has a googolplex dollars.
And yes, I did spell that "googleplex" before looking it up on dictionary.com.
So in my mind we were 5-1 going into Game 7. And we were one dumb Manu foul (more on this later) away from going 6-1 against them. The Mavs are a very good team. Very good. But we're still better. I'm sorry guys, but we are. We just are. I'll still take Tim before Dirk. Timmeh plays D, Dirk doesn't. (More on Dirk later). Manu is light years - LIGHT YEARS YOU HEAR ME - ahead of their 2nd best player, the Big Bug. And Tony on most nights is preferable to Jason Terry. Fin and Stack are a wash. You really trying to tell me that Devin Harris, a guy who doesn't even have a fucking jump shot and some foul-prone centers make up for the advantages that our big three have over their big three, that our experience has over their experience, that our coach has over their coach? Sorry, I don't buy it. We're still better than them, and I believe we will be for the foreseeable future. The zebras and some fluky things fucked this series up, and fluky things will happen in small sample sizes. But you play this series ten times, and we win eight, easy.
Whatever. All I know is every year we won the brass ring, I felt certain we had the best team, beginning to end. I didn't necessarily think we were a lock to win, but I felt on paper we had the best team. I didn't feel that this year. Manu started off hurt, and never really looked like himself. Tim had his foot to deal with. Admittedly, they were both a lot better in the playoffs. But the defense was never as good as we've been accustomed to. The rebounding was always shaky. Something always looked a little off, even amidst all those wins. Of course, you had to be a hard core Spurs fan, somebody who'd seen the team play for years, to notice. The two 15 point losses to the Pistons meant we'd be going in as underdogs, and that has never been a good omen for this club. In '99 and '03 we had HCA throughout, and in '05 nobody in their right mind thought the Suns were really better than us, they just had a better record because Tim missed 16 games with his ankle. The Finals with the Pistons was a scary proposition, because they were the defending champs and all, but we did have home court, and had a simple enough 1-1 split with them during the season. Like I said, we were the favorites. Not this year.
Whatever "it" was, we didn't have it. I knew for sure in that game at Seattle, late in the year. Pop sat Manu way too long in the 4th, because of foul trouble, and when he finally brought him in with three minutes to go, in a game we were trailing by seven points, we promptly went on a 9-0 run. We ended up blowing the game because Horry didn't call timeout before falling out of bounds with the ball. He was trying to draw a foul. Allen hit a three to win it. It was our last shot to steal HCA from Detroit. After that game, I kinda knew. Championship teams win games like that. Oh well. There's always next year.
Here are my thoughts on a bunch of people/things. Beware, this post will never end.
The Dallas Mavericks - Something you have to know about me... I'm kind of a real life version of the TV show "My Name Is Earl." No, I don't live with my brother in a motel. No, I haven't won the lottery. No, I don't have the world's hottest maid. In fact, I don't have a brother, I don't live in a motel, I don't play the lottery, and I'm my own maid. Oh and I don't have a mustache either. Or a white trash ex-wife.
But, for a few years, I was a pretty terrible human being always wondering why I had such shitty luck. Now I'm not. And I'm a big believer in karma. I can't stress this enough.
In that vein, I simply was dumbstruck that God or whoever runs this whole show let the Mavericks win, considering the assclown behavior of Mark Cuban, the annoying high-pitched whining of AJ, and Terry's cheapshot to Findog's nuts. I thought we had it in the bag for sure after Game 6. I even had a stunning comeback from 3-1 down in a best of seven duel of Connect Four with my uncle, and Game 7 was a classic, going down to the last two moves. I took it as an excellent omen.
I still can't believe we lost. Coming back from 20 down to win would have been SO sweet. It would've been a fitting end to this series. But then Manu became human. (Sigh).
Still, I'm not ready to give up on karma just yet. Even it wasn't in the cards for us, I still refuse to accept that the Mavericks are gonna act the way they acted and get rewarded for it with the ultimate prize. No way. Somebody is going to knock them off, whether it's Phoenix, Miami, or Detroit. SOMEBODY will. If I understand the way the world works at all, somebody will. It would be almost faith shattering for me if they won it. Besides they made this, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrqOVoiOTYU&search=Avery%20Bunch) the single worst acted and directed thing I've ever seen. The guys are all looking the wrong way. The ones on the right are looking right, the ones on top are looking up, etc... No way they win it all.
Mark Cuban - Easily the biggest culprit in our story. He lets his promotions department run a "Best of Manu's Flops" video on their scoreboard. For all we know it was his idea. He runs out on to the court after Game 1 to argue with the refs. He bitches about the refs on his lameass blog, where he deletes all dissenting viewpoints like the wannabe fascist dictator he is. He talks shit about Finley the whole series, when the guy was a loyal soldier for his franchise for eight years. He acts like Jason Terry is the victim when he punched Finley in the balls, and refuses to admit that it was a punch, even after Terry himself does so. He makes fun of the River Walk. Oh, and he looks like a serial killer/child molester. I'm not saying he is. I'm just saying he looks like one. The bottom line is that Mark Cuban is clownshoes, and until he treats other people in the league with respect, I won't respect him, and I doubt the basketball gods will reward his team with a championship.
Avery Johnson - Speaking of respect, I've lost all that I've ever had for Johnson. It's clear from watching him that he didn't learn every lesson from Pop. He still takes some media questions too personally. He whines about the refereeing a lot. He even had a quote where he endorsed his players giving other players the "Reggie Evans" treatment, as opposed to punching.
I think what people get mixed up about Johnson is in thinking that just because he overcame tremendous odds and carved out a solid NBA career for himself, despite not having much talent, that it somehow makes him a great person. You can be driven, ambitious, even religious, and still be an asshole. The infamous "Jesus is ashamed of you, David" quote he gave to Robinson after the '95 playoffs was very telling about Johnson's true character (or lack thereof) if you ask me.
The fact that we've semi-retired his # 6 jersey says everything about how the Spurs do things as an organization, but more and more, Johnson's words, actions, and behavior - all things that have nothing to do with the actual games and wins and losses- make me think that he is unworthy of the honor. Please understand that this has nothing to do with the result of the series. Even if we won, I was saving my Johnson rant for the series' end. And he probably would've given me more ammunition, bitching about Tim's FT attempts or whatever....
It would please me tremendously to have the Spurs announce that next year Manu will wear # 6, the number he wanted when he first became a Spur. If Kobe can switch his number, then why not our shooting guard? It could be like a new beginning for The Sickness, to fully put this star-crossed season behind him. And it would be a gigantic FUCK YOU to Avery. Plus, the Spurs make some more money, selling a bunch of # 6 jerseys to chicks and 31% gay guys like me.
Tattletales vs. Assassins - It begs the question though; does it have to be this way? Is the only way to beat us for a head coach to whine and plead to the refs after every loss? Before Avery, Phil Jax was the only coach in our run to do get it done against us, so does a coach have to act like Phil acts?
See here's the thing about the Spurs...they're professional assassins. Not gangbangers. Not thugs. Professional assassins.
What's the difference?
Easy. Thugs and gangbangers, they want the world to know how hard they are. How badass they are. They don't get away with any crime because they don't want to get away with them. They're so insecure that they always feel they have to show people how tough they are.
The Spurs aren't insecure. All they care about is winning, and guys like Bruce, Manu, Tim- they'll do hundreds of sneaky, tiny, unnoticeable to the naked eye things throughout a game to get an edge. The way Bruce slides underneath jump shooters. Tim's moving picks. Manu's elbow to Artest's mug in Game 1. Damn right he knew Ron Ron's face was there. But it set a tone early in the series and completely got the Kings off their game. He knew he could get away with it because Artest was reaching in for a loose ball. His effort was about a hundred times less clumsy and obvious than Artest's retaliation elbow in the 3rd quarter. Artest is a thug. Manu is a professional assassin. The Spurs will elbow you in the ribs, the back, the groin, and help you up off the floor, asking, "You okay?" for the refs and broadcasters to see; classy as always.
Maybe the good coaches, guys like Phil Jax and Avery, have figured this out. Maybe the only way to stop us is to tell the refs we're not nearly the boring, do-gooders we're made out to be. Maybe playing it nice and civil against the Spurs like Mike D'Antoni or Rick Adalman will get you beat every single time. We'll find out next year.
Dirk Nowitzki - Pretty typical Dirk Games 1-4, took his game to another level in Games 5-7. He's pretty much fucking unguardable now that he stopped chucking all those lazy three pointers and started taking it to the rim. He's finally figured out that if the other team puts smaller people on him, the only way to punish them is to drive. Plus, he's finally developed enough star-cred where the refs give him the benefit of the doubt. He gets every 50-50 call now. Also, for whatever reason, he's allowed to go over the back on offensive rebounds more than any player in the league. That helps too.
The guy has the purest jumper this side of Ray Allen, he's rebounding like a demon, he's even passing great off double teams. He has no weaknesses at all on the offensive end of the floor. Unlike Garnett, he makes his teammates better. He is definitely a top five player now, along with LeBron, Kobe, Timmeh, and Wade. The only chink in his armor remains defense - it was embarrassing how they hid him by letting him guard Bowen the whole series - but still, you can make that criticism of the other top five players too, except for Tim. Ze German is by far my favorite player on the Mavs - and I fucking hate his guts. The Hasselhoff stuff is too weird to even get into.
Josh Howard aka The Big Bug - Didn't like him before the series, still don't like him. He's talented, obviously. Incredibly talented. But he's still way too inconsistent, and can be taken out of the game easily. You shut him down in the 1st quarter, and he shuts himself down for the rest of the night. He still takes way too many horrible shots. He commits more silly touch fouls than anyone in the league, except maybe Nazr. His basketball IQ is awful. Avery must be going out of his mind with Bug, the guy is the complete antithesis of Johnson as a player. You think it's just a coincidence he did this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUHIfOicCbU. All the skills in the world, and not a clue how to use them... Gino clearly outplayed him in Games 3-7 of the series, in the match-up of each team's second best player.
The Detroit Pistons - This will sound out there, but I almost think they were more motivated to get revenge against us than they were about actually winning the championship. They got off to that great start thru the first 30 games and pretty much mailed in the rest of the season, playing just hard enough to keep home court.
I mean, being dead last in points in the paint? What the fuck is that? Letting `Sheed shoot five threes a game, some of them left-handed? Say what you want about Larry Brown, but he wouldn't have put up with that shit. Flip is clearly in over his head here. The small, offensive guys seem to like him well enough, but the two Wallaces don't respect him. There seems to be a growing rift on that team, and I'm not all that positive Big Ben will be back next year, especially if he wants a max deal. Rodman never got anything approaching a max deal, even in his best years, so why does Wallace deserve one, exactly? He's a big fat zero on offense. A very overrated player if you ask me.
If you noticed, the worse we played against the Mavs, the worse the Pistons played against Cleveland. We got down 3-1; they got down 3-2. We won two in a row; so did they. We lost Game 7 and all the air went out of the Pistons balloon, and they laid a big stinker at home vs Miami, in Game 1. No way they lose that game if we're still alive. All their fire and intensity is gone now that we're done. They don't have the same incentive to beat the other teams. It truly is anyone's championship to win now. For the life of me, I can't pick one team over the other. All I know is, that no team can permit the other team's two best players to shoot a combined 75%, no matter how good they are, as was the case for the Pistons in Game 3, and claim to be a top notch defensive club.
If they really wanted it, they'd be the obvious favorites to win it all, but it just doesn't look like they give a shit. They can't summon the energy to play hard and focused two games in a row, and Flip is the wrong coach to ask to get that out of them. Mainly, the starting five look like they're tired of playing with each other. Tired of `Sheed treating the paint like it's Chernobyl. Tired of Rip's matador defense. Tired of Prince showing up every third game. Tired of Big Ben wanting more touches when he hits a quarter of his free throws. Probably tired of Chauncey taking every big shot down the stretch, no matter how tightly covered. Things like this happen when you have egos and temperamental personalities and a shitty bench and nobody ever gets injured. No matter what happens this year, the '06-07 Pistons look more fragile to me than the '06-07 Spurs.
Pop - The rational side of me says I shouldn't overreact, that the guy's been our coach for three rings, and that we were one stop in regulation in either games 3, 4, or 7 away from him looking pretty smart. But the fan in me was plenty irked off by his moves and non-moves this whole series, and really the whole season.
1. Small ball - When I was in favor of this, I thought it would be with Horry as the "small" PF. I never imagined we'd play 30 minutes a night with Fin as our second tallest player out on the floor. In the end, I thought that not only was this strategy a really big gamble, making us a coin flip to win each night, but it was too much of a concession to the Mavs, psychologically. We're the top dog in the conference, and we let the other guys dictate the pace of the game and how it's going to be played. Basically, I thought we were way too nice.
I mean, it's one thing to resort to this style against the Suns. At least with them, a whole team plays a certain style, a certain pace, and you need to go small to keep up with them. But with Dallas, it seemed to me like we altered our identity drastically not because of the team we're going against, but just one player on the team, namely Dirk. I can't accept that one player, no matter how good he is, should scare Pop enough into junking everything.
If you think about it, Dallas is pretty conventional. They play with a center. Their power forward just happens to be faster than most and a ridiculously good shooter, but otherwise, it's a standard lineup. I don't understand why we didn't play them straight up. Just to play a little better defense on Dirk (which helped not one bit), we sacrificed rebounding on both ends of the floor, and basically let everybody on their team penetrate at will. Whatever happened to Pop's defensive mantra "Remember who we are." It's pretty hard to be who we are when guys like Bones, Fin, and Tony are being counted on to make defensive stops and Duncan is our only big.
I would have preferred to take our chances with Rasho. Despite what Pop says, I really think The Solid Slovenian was playing pretty decently the last 10 games or so of the regular season. I would've planted both him and Duncan in the lane, cut off all layups for the Mavs, and taken my chances with an umbrella zone, with Bruce at the top of the key and Parker and Manu on the two wings. The only shooters they have are Dirk and Terry. I'd let Stack and Howard and Harris shoot jumpers all day. Yeah, maybe the rebounding numbers wouldn't have been a whole lot better with `Sho in there, but at least it wouldn't be one long lay-up line for Dallas.
The positives of this move: You keep Dirk in the paint on defense, which meant that we could have drawn some fouls on him, and maybe fatigued him. See how he likes it when Rasho puts his body against him on every possession. Also, we would have had easier kickouts from Duncan and been able to shoot a lot more threes, especially from Bowen in the corner.
We would have gotten a lot more ball movement and assists, instead of always starting the offense by dumping it into Tim. We would have had TSS setting screens for Manu at the top of the key, enabling him to still have Tim to kick it to as an option, instead of Tim setting the screens, and nobody to kick it to except the 3 point shooters. Dirk is a soft, atrocious defender, and we took it way too easy on him, letting him camp out on Bruce all day and swooping in on all the boards, with no bigs to contend with. Also, we'd be deeper and fresher, and our smalls wouldn't have to play themselves ragged.
The negative is that with more people in the paint, Tim wouldn't have gotten 35 every night, but I think it would have hurt them more than us. The games would've been in the 80s-low 90s range, and that suits us fine. If we lost, we'd lose our way, instead of their way.
2. Defense on Dirk - It was like they could never make up their minds. Sometimes they had Bruce on him. Sometimes Fin. In the last few games they tried doubling every now and then. In game 7, they tried Tim. Coaches call this, "mixing it up." I call it indecision. I don't recall mixing it up too much against Amare last year. We just guarded him with our bigs and took our lumps. When Tim was matched up with him, he played him like he had five fouls the whole time.
Why didn't we just do this on Dirk? Why not just let him get 40 to 50 on open 20 foot jumpers and take away everybody else? Every time Bruce was on Howard, the Big Bug did nothing, much like Marion last year. If we used two bigs to clog up the paint and played up on their three point shooters, we'd pretty much be just giving up perimeter jumpers all day. We can live with that. Better than kinda sorta but not really guarding anybody. Plus, the Dallas guys need the ball on offense to feel a part of the game. If we made Dirk shoot on every possession, the other guys would either get very bored or start forcing up bad shots. Best of all, it would have kept Dirk away from the paint, he wouldn't have been drawing all those fouls, he wouldn't be getting offensive rebounds, and people would still be calling him soft to this day. And their energy and focus would've been way down on the other end of the floor. We shoulda let the Mavs give us their Jordan & the Jordanaries impersonation. As I recall, those early Bulls teams didn't do much.
3. Rumble vs Beno - Something behind the scenes must have happened here. It absolutely must have. Beno was playing too well in the middle 40 games of the season for him to be scrapped just like that. He got one start against the Clips, hurt his ankle, and Pop didn't seem to think his injury was serious at all; dismissed Beno for being soft, and pretty much banished him for the last 15 games. Then Udrih had some bad turnovers in a meaningless Game 82, and he was done for. Combine that with Rumble choosing Game 1 of the playoffs to have his only decent performance, and it the competition was over for good. It didn't seem to matter that Beno's high energy outing in Game 3 of that series helped to bring the team back from a big early deficit. And it really didn't seem to matter that Rumble kept playing like crap, game after game after game. He had the "veteran playoff experience."
Ultimately, money probably had something to do with it. Rumble was making the mid-level exemption I think, and Beno was making nothing. Next year, I think the cap will force the Spurs to really give Beno a shot or to trade him, but no more of this limbo crap. Maybe he's gonna need to punch somebody in the face in training camp. Maybe that's what Pop is looking for. But this kid is gonna have to shit or get off the pot soon, and so will the management, in its treatment of him.
4. Tony vs. Manu - Speaking of something going on behind the scenes, more and more I'm starting to suspect that our starting backcourt aren't the best of friends, on or off the floor. The former is probably bothered by the fact that the latter seems to coast until the 4th quarter every night, and that he took it easy for large chunks of the regular season. The latter is probably bothered that the former seems way too interested in scoring and personal numbers and not so much in being a point guard. He probably feels frozen out of the offense for many minutes at a time.
I blame the coach for most of this. I guess Pop figured that the only way to survive during the regular season, with Tim and Manu's injuries, was to unleash Tony as the first option, but it was asking an awful lot to get Tony to switch back to his old self when Tim and Manu were feeling better. But the fact remains, a team can't win a championship with a shoot first point guard as the 1st option.
My guess is that Pop feels that Tony will never grasp the big picture as a point guard beyond where he's at now. He'll never be Kidd. He will never be able to contribute to wins with passing and defense. He'll never shoot 3 for 11, but with 10 assists, 1 turnover, and 3 steals. It'll either be all-star scoring Tony or scrub Tony. The only way to keep Tony focused and motivated is to give him a lot of shots. Otherwise he'll just float out there and disappear, much like he did in the '03 and '04 playoffs.
So it seems the solution is to let Tony jack a lot of shots in the 1st and 3rd quarters, and to play him and Manu as few minutes as possible when Parker is in "attack mode." This is why Manu comes out at the six minute mark in these quarters, often having barely touched the ball. Then, when Tony's out for six minutes in the 2nd and 4th, they give the ball to Manu a whole bunch to try and get him going. In the 4th quarter, if the game is in hand for us, it's more of the same. If we're behind, then finally Pop lets Manu be the 1 and Tony the 2. If it works, Manu looks like a savior and we all go gaga about him, and if it doesn't work, we whine and bitch at Tony and Pop. Basically, they ask an out of rhythm Manu to win the game and make Tony feel bitter.
Well guess what? I'm fucking sick of it. This is terribly unfair to Manu, to put these games on his shoulders every time when he spends the majority of the game as the 3rd option. And you know what? It's unfair to Tony too. You give him carte blanche to play a certain way for three quarters, and then take the ball out of his hands in the 4th, in effect emasculating him.
The smart thing to do would be to make this offense democratic for the big three, beginning to end. Run plays for Tony, run plays for Tim, run plays for Manu, and keep mixing it up so the other team never knows what's coming. Get the three of them in the habit of passing the ball to each other. Make our backcourt teammates instead of guys who happen to play with one another.
What we WILL do, unfortunately seems to be more of the same. Now I hear that the shooting coach will be working with Tony to extend his range to three point land, you know, since he's mastered the 20 footer and all.
Instead of a shooting coach, how about we hire a leadership coach? Or a good decision making coach? Or a passing it to someone besides Duncan coach? Most of all, a not making a spin move into the paint and crashing into two seven foot tall motherfuckers coach would be nice.
Anybody who doesn't think Tony and Manu will be trying to destroy each other in the France vs Argentina World Championship Game is kidding themselves. It will be a battle to see who should be second in the hearts and minds of Spurs fans everywhere.
Timmeh - Rest up, big fellah. Spend four months on a beach somewhere, watch the WBC on the dish, and hope your teammates don't kill themselves. You've proven to all the haters that you're still the baddest big man in the world. Pop's gonna get you some help this offseason, and next year, it's gonna be between you, Dirk, and BronBron for MVP. The team will need you to carry them for the 1st third of the season, while the guards rest up after having no summer off.
Bruce - He's slowing down a bit. He had a great game-saving block in Game 5, but too often Dirk got the better of him. He was also a non-factor on the boards and on offense. Too often he was a liability for us, his plus/minus in the series was the worst on the team. I think next year, he becomes a starter in name only, getting maybe 24 minutes a night. If Stern isn't going to let anyone play defense anymore, then Fin has to be on the floor more and Bruce less. He better pray that small-ball doesn't continue next year, because without a center behind him, he doesn't look nearly so good.
Findog - He played about as well as we could have expected. A professional, a great teammate, a consummate Spur. He deserved better this year, but we'll get him his ring soon enough. I think he made a case for his role on the team being expanded next year. I expect him to cut into Bruce's minutes heavily, and to Manu's as well, at least for the first 20 games or so, because of the WBC.
'Sho - If you're still here dude, you gotta step up and be The Solid Slovenian again. For the love of God, stop being such a pussy under the boards. You won't have Nazr to look over your shoulder at next year, so it's on you.
RoHo - Thanks very much for '05, but you gave us nothing this year. The talking heads give you so much crap about saving yourself for the playoffs and only hitting big threes, that you started to buy into it. You didn't hustle, didn't play defense, and you rebounded like a ninny. All the little things that people didn't notice, you stopped doing them. You brought nothing to the table, just a 6'11 guy standing at the three point line all game, like Van Horn. Either take a fucking look in the mirror or retire. You were disgraceful this year.
Bones - I for one hope he sticks around, in a limited role, although he probably won't. He knows the system and he's an ideal fourth wingman. It seems like he always plays too few minutes or not enough. Anything below 10 isn't worth it, and after 20, you're getting diminishing returns. I'm surprised Pop didn't scrap Rumble and just use him at backup point. I acknowledge the team needs to get younger and longer and tougher, but I'm not at all thrilled about J.R. Smith.
T-Rex - Worst. Salary. Drive. Ever. Good riddance.
Wee Rapping Frenchman - As you may have figured, I am less than enamored with his play. I will probably continue to be so for the next decade. Mayhaps Beno will get some run next year for the first couple months so Tony can recover from the WBC? Eh?
I'm having major doubts about Parker's intelligence. In an interview with Craig Sager, he just referred to the Spurs as, "a young team." Compared to the San Francisco Giants maybe.
Sickness - In a way, the melancholy way it ended, it was almost inevitable. If the guy pulled another miracle out of his butt in Game 7 and we got another ring, nobody would think he was human. Failure is good and it's healthy. It makes success all the more sweet. I for one and am looking forward to all the critics and the haters bashing him going into next year. Telling him he's overrated, that '05 was a fluke, and that in the words of `Sheed, "there ain't nothing special about the kid."
The WBC will tell us a lot. If he plays well there, maybe gets a gold or silver, God help the rest of the league in November.
One thing I know for sure, is that the guy was hurt. Seriously hurt. His feet and ankles musta been all fucked up, much worse than whatever he played through to earn the El Contusion moniker in '05. He couldn't jump at all this year. He had no explosion. It's like he aged ten years overnight. You can't just lose ten inches of vertical leap in one year. It had to be some lingering injury. It affected his confidence big time. It looked like he wasn't having too much fun playing anymore. He even stopped going behind his back with the dribble. He looked like a different guy, most of the season.
Which makes his playoffs all the more impressive. He had a 32 point game and a 27 point game against Sac on sheer will. He pretty much busted Dallas up in Games 3-7. He averaged over 22 points that series, without being able to jump. For a guy who supposedly had a miserable postseason, it sure must have been a weird coincidence that he led the team in plus/minus in both series. On offense, he had to resort to a lot more craftiness in order to score. Floaters, more jumpers, give-and-gos. He looked like he was starting to get it back, bit by bit, just when we got knocked out.
He's added to his offensive arsenal, out of necessity. Now, IF he can get his legs back next year, look out. I'm looking forward to finding out, and like I said, the WBC should tell us a lot.
No matter what, I'll never stop believing in the guy, and I'll never be down on him. He cares. You can tell he really cares. He singlehandedly won Games 1 and 5 with defensive plays. One could easily argue it was the finest defensive series he's ever played. In the end he tried to make a play that he probably shouldn't have. He reacted a split second too late, and he couldn't get as high as he wanted to. But if he got it, it would've been the biggest blocked shot in Spurs history.
I'm betting next year he'll be able to make that play.
Me - I haven't spoken to Matthew in forever. I hope he's okay. I hope he checks this. I'm guessing he's going through some personal problems, a lot bigger and more important than some basketball team. He'll e-mail me if he wants to.
But I've got big plans for this blog. I LOVE the Spurs, I love them now more than ever, and I'm psyched about the opportunity to write about them after every game they play. You see, this season was the first time I've ever seen the majority of their games - the first time I had the NBA package. Before, I only saw them when they were on national TV. I'm really looking forward to next year. Even with Tony chucking threes...
But there's more to sports than them. In truth, I couldn't be less excited about the rest of the NBA playoffs, but I plan to be very busy writing during June. Why? The motherfuckin' World Cup, that's why. I'm gonna blog about it every day. The missed penalty kicks, the wanton diving that puts Manu to shame, the ridiculous off-sides calls by the refs that disallow two goals per game, I can't wait. I hope somebody reads it or cares. If not, eh. By the way, I know almost nothing about soccer.
Oh and there's the NFL season coming up in a few months. I'm an Eagles fan. I'll write mostly about them, but some about everybody else too. I'm planning on inventing some swear word to use on TO, that will hopefully take the rest of the country by storm, the way Colbert made "Truthiness" so popular.
Maybe I'll write about baseball after the all-star break. I figure I probably will. I like the Giants. I like Barry Bonds. I think he's neat. I like the Dodgers and Jeff Kent too. I like the Red Sox and I like Pedro on the Mets. About the only people I dislike are the Padres, the Yankees, and Dusty Baker. So there.
I plan on watching the World Basketball Championships, for the first time in my life, because so many Spurs are involved. The FIBA rules are weird, but it should be fun to watch anyway. I have absolutely no problem whatsoever admitting that I'll probably root against the United States in most of their games because the country and their fans are spoiled, arrogant, and xenophobic, much like the President. That reminds me: Another reason to like Manu - he said if he was eligible to vote, he'd have voted for Kerry. http://usa.manuginobili.com/ (Question 33). Fucking awesome.
I also dislike most of the players on the US team, and think it was complete bullshit that AI didn't get invited. Bad karma galore. So screw them.
I will however root for the US soccer team with all my heart. Because they're underdogs and they need some love.
I may write about movies and music and TV. I want to be like Bill Simmons on here, but without being a homophobic, chauvinistic asshole. And I'll swear a lot.
Holy Christ, this thing was 11 pages long. I'm never writing this much for one entry again, ever. That's a promise.