Of course I’m prejudiced when it comes to feeling which sport is the most exciting to watch. There’s no other sport that has more non-stop action, abundance of scoring and plethora of great athletes than basketball. A friend of mine has been saying for years the NBA is the best entertainment because it’s the best of the best basketball players in the world. While that’s true, then it must stand to reason that this NBA Finals would be the best of the best – teams.
This year’s finals has both great players and groups of guys who understand the team concept better than all the other professional clubs. The first four games were, at the risk of making one of the greatest understatements of all-time, intensely competitive. The fifth one exceeded the first, mainly because both offenses were nothing short of sensational.
The Dallas Mavericks are putting to rest any talk of them being a soft, offense-only club with little heart. Throughout the playoffs, game after game, they’ve battled back from fourth quarter deficits. Last night was another example. As far as the Miami Heat. Game 5 disproved any notion that they are a selfish team. Anyone watching the game, independent of which team they were pulling for, had to see an incredibly well-played game. Other than LeBron James not making shots – and looking uncharacteristically lacking confidence (in his jump shot) – the game was everything a fan could have hoped for when he or she sat down to check out the action.
The ESPN studio crew of analysts began their post game dissection with unusual praise (Michael Wilbon saying these past five games were the best first five games of an NBA final he can recall seeing) but they soon lapsed into their”comfort zone” of negative comments. At the beginning of each show, Jon Barry is lauded for his pre-game on the money predictions. Of course we never hear those pre-game gems until the post-game show. Do I think the guys are making up JB’s “brilliance?” Well, to borrow a phrase from, for my money, the most annoying sports anchor on TV, Stuart Scott, “I’m just sayin’.”
Barry more or less ridiculed Heat coach Erik Spoelstra for opening the game by posting up LeBron James. Following Game 4 Spoelstra was criticized for not getting James more involved. Trying to post him early was a tactical move like any other coach makes – wise if it works, open to second guessing if it doesn’t. Wilbon entered the fray by saying LeBron should have been rested more. His reasoning? It was necessary to play James when Dwyane Wade was out of the game but when he returned and was effective, Spoelstra needed to put James on the bench for a blow. Forget that James never looks winded and that the suggestion reeked of “Wade and James can’t be effective together because each needs the ball.” If ever a move would be fodder the armchair coach, that suggestion would begun more arguments than who was better – Russell or Wilt?
To top off the late night tomfoolery, Magic Johnson chimed in with the statement, “Rick Carlisle is out-coaching Erik Spoelstra.” Now, Magic Johnson is one of the game’s best players ever, one of its greatest ambassadors and as charismatic an individual as has played professional sports, but as a coach? On second thought, maybe it was an insightful comment because, after witnessing his brief foray into the field of coaching, he probably knows better than anyone what getting out-coached means.
The main point of this blog is, after such a competitive, well-played game, the best analysis would have been:
“Don’t hate; appreciate.”