Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Solar Eclipse

Normally I don't actually care about the NBA playoffs, but the frontier justice going down in the Phoenix-San Antonio series is too ridiculous to let go. On one side, we have the "classy" Spurs, led by noted cheap shot artist Bruce Bowen and flopper extraordinaire Manu Ginobili. So far, their tally for the series is one face shot, one calf shot, one nut shot, and one cheap shot into the scorers table, though presumably hip-checking Steve Nash into the possession arrow wasn't why Robert Horry has earned the nickname "Big Shot Bob".

On the other side, we have the Phoenix Suns, the only team in professional sports with a luggage tag on their uniforms (well, besides the last couple of years of the Expos, but that was entirely different), who will be without two of their best players for game 5 of the series because said players couldn't figure out that the rules about leaving the bench for a fight mean "don't leave the bench if there's a fight."

Whatever the outcome, the series' credibility is already shot. Yes, the NBA was right to enforce their rule on leaving the bench and ding Amare Stoudamire and Boris Diaw. Hell, after the shot Amare took to the back of his leg from Hong Kong Phooey Bowen, he could probably use the night off. However, "We have to enforce the rules" loses its power as a rationale when, for the rest of the series, those same rules haven't been enforced. If Bowen is making like he's doing a live-action version of Lunch Money, then he should be penalized for it. Not to put too fine a point on it, NBA, but more people want to see Nash and Stoudamire than want to see "They Call Me Bruce". Protecting him at the expense of two off your more valuable assets - not to mention the possibility of letting weird disciplinary inconsistency run the one exciting team left in the playoffs off to the golf course - is bad for business in every direction. It reinforces the notion that the playoffs are rigged (never mind that if they were, they should be rigged in the larger market's favor. We're talking perception here). It deprives the fans of players they want to see. It makes the basketball - and make no mistake, this is the only good basketball being played right now - less interesting. And it makes the league look goofy at a time when it should be looking its best.

So my advice to the Suns is to have the last guy on your bench clock Timmy D. - and you don't think Joey Crawford is laughing his tucchis off over this, do you - and see what happens. The suspensions just might even out.
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