We're about to be treated to 24 minutes or so of Pat Burke on Wednesday night. The NBA has a dumb rule, they're going to have to live with it, and it's going to cost us 1/7th or more of the best playoff series that will take place in 2007.
You've seen the play by now, probably a dozen times. I think ESPNews is just going to run it on a continuous loop until 7 p.m. or so. I'll summarize briefly if you missed it. Robert Horry suffered a bout of temporary dementia and believed he was Ray Borque for a second, and he bodychecked the closest Canadian to him. It happened to be Steve Nash, who went flying into the advertising boards along the scorer's table. In Horry's defense, the Spurs did need to foul. They didn't need to maim, though.
But forget about the actual hit. It's not the kind of "tough" play I was taking about about yesterday, although I would argue that it never would've happened had the Suns shown any willingness to clobber someone before that. But that's a whole other discussion.
What is significant, however, is the decision the NBA's going to have to make regarding Boris Diaw and Amare Stoudemire leaving the bench during the ensuing scrum.
Here's the rule:
c. During an altercation, all players not participating in the game must remain in the immediate vicinity of their bench. Violators will be suspended, without pay, for a minimum of one game and fined up to $35,000. The suspensions will commence prior to the start of their next game.Not a lot of gray area there. There was an altercation, Diaw and Stoudemire were not participating in the game, and they did not remain in the vicinity of their bench.
Stoudemire says he was getting up to check in to the game, and I hate to call someone a liar, so let's go with "fibber" instead. It was rather odd to see a man at the postgame press conference, sporting a "Black Jesus" tattoo on his neck, and telling blatant, obvious lies. You just don't see that every day. I hope there's a tattoo artist in San Antonio tonight who can do a quick touch-up on "Black Jesus" to change it to "Black Fibber" before Game 5.
If you watch what happened, you see Stoudemire's body language, watch his eyes, and see how he reacts. Sorry, but I'm not buying it, Black Jesus. You were no more getting off the bench to check into the game than Boris Diaw was getting off the bench to invade Germany.
I just don't know how the NBA could justify not suspending them. Say they announce sometime today that Diaw and Stoudemire aren't being suspended, and Gregg Popovich asks for an explanation. What do you say to him? "Oh, we didn't feel like enforcing this one"?
If the NBA doesn't enforce the law here, then they pretty much give license to any other player to jump off the bench and run into a fight. I don't see the league putting themselves in that position.
And if you're sitting there thinking that Stoudemire and Diaw didn't do anything wrong, and that a suspension would be unfair, and that the whole thing is Robert Horry's fault, and no one else should be punished ... Hey, I'm with you.
But the concept of fairness doesn't apply here. This is a rule, the players know it, the coaches know it, and it has previously resulted in idiotic suspensions for guys who did less than Stoudemire and Diaw. That's the reality.
Unless I'm wrong, and I really hope that I am, the end result here is going to be a Game 5 that's more of a novelty than the heavyweight fight it should be. Which brings me back to Pat Burke, the only big the Suns have left to put into the game.
What are they going to do, put Burke in alongside Kurt Thomas and play the Spurs at their own game? The Suns might as well go gimmicky. Put five guards and Thomas on the floor, run like hell, and try to take 100 shots. Screw it, be the Warriors for a night. If that's the way it goes, the most likely outcome is that Tim Duncan scores 114 points and the Spurs cruise. But you never know.
It's a travesty that that these are our choices, as opposed to what should be another installment in a legendary series. Boris Diaw, Amare Stoudemire, and every single one of us are about to be screwed by a dumb, dumb rule.
|Words That Came Out of Someone's Mouth|
"You have to figure, [Vince] Carter and [Richard] Jefferson have to pick up the scoring with Mikki Moore out of the game."
- TNT's Dick Stockton, without any sort of sarcasm or irony, in an unintentionally scathing critique of Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson
|For the Scrapbook I|
"Man, I've got the HIV, and my wife stayed with me. You must have really screwed up."
|For the Scrapbook II|
I look at Lawrence Frank and I just think "greatness." Or dork. One of the two.
Mikki Moore, offensive house of fire. Mikki was 11-of-14 with 25 points. I'd still like to see a little bit of rebounding ability (Ilgauskus and Gooden combined for 21, Moore and Jason Collins combined for 6), but we're not going to get the chance to put Mikki Moore here often, so why not. He was the best player in that game last night. Yes, even better than LeBron who was let off the hook only because Vince Carter had a slightly worse 4th quarter than he did. In fact, that entire 4th quarter was a crime against basketball.
Honorable mentions: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Greg Maddux
|Yesterday's Sad Sack|
Vince Carter. I hate to pile on Vince, but he was very Vince Carter-ish down the stretch last night. What I don't get is how you never hear another player say anything bad about Vince Carter. Everyone in the league says he's got a lot of heart, he's a great guy, etc. I'm not saying it's not true, I'm just saying ... Vince Carter should introduce us to that Vince Carter sometime. I'd love to meet him.
Guys with that much ability and heart don't let Eric Snow eat their lunch on the game's crucial possession.
|The Evening's Agenda|
8:00, TNT. NBA Playoffs. Chicago Bulls @ Detroit Pistons.
8:00, CBS. The 42nd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards.
9:00, ESPN2. 2006 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Championship Rounds.
9:00, VS. NHL Playoffs. Detroit Red Wings @ Anaheim Ducks.
9:00, FOX. House.
10:30, TNT. NBA Playoffs. Golden State Warriors @ Utah Jazz.