My thoughts on the Suns/Spurs and the NBA in general.
Ideas based on the Phoenix/San Antonio series (if you’re not buying tickets to this series and live in Arizona/Texas, you’re missing an incredibly entertaining oppurtunity. Take off work, take your kids, and go get pumped up for the home team. Wear a hockey helmet if you don’t like Tim Duncan. Make it FUN):
– Phoenix crowd / fans: The Phoenix fans are incredible. From the tip-off the arena sounded more like an NCAA game than a NBA game. The fans – they care whather or not their team wins. Like their next 2 days at the office will be miserable and they won’t sleep well unless the Suns win. They care. (Did anyone else see that slightly elderly lady with the giant red hair in the front row that stood up at every questionable call against the Suns and made gestures at the ref’s from 10 feet away? She cared if the Suns won or lost.) Hats off to Phoenix fans.
– Phoenix held San Antonio to 13 first quarter points and 33 first half points. That’s really, really good defensive play, and guess what NBA commission: It was fun to watch! The 13 first quarter points was the Spurs’ season low record for first quarter points. Think about that.
– Steve Nash is the ultimate competitive point guard of the 21st century. If you watch a Phoenix Suns playoff game and focus for all 48 minutes on Steve Nash, and don’t like what you see, then you don’t like basketball. He is absolutely surgical with his behind-the-back passes because of one completely undervalued skill that he possess that only 10-20% of the players in the NBA now possess: He understands the game of basketball very well. Watch him play. He understands what’s likely to happen after a pick and roll, and he knows whether or not he has enough room to shoot that barely-open three pointer. He understands what a good pass is and what a bad pass is. He makes sound decisions because he is a very smart basketball player. Go watch him play. Seriously. The number one point guard of the 21st century.
– NBA policy towards castrating competition in the league is geared towards TV contracts. Why shouldn’t it be? I’m sure that a majority (75-90%) of bonuses on David Stern’s paycheck comes from the super-lucrative TV contracts and commercial time that the NBA can sell. Honestly, if you worked at the office, and the difference between a %10 pay increase for the year and a %50 pay increase for the year depended on selling TV ad space – what would you be focusing on when you went in to work on Monday morning? You’d be focused on TV revenue more so than the amount of revenue jersey sales and ticket sales combined bring in that’s for sure. So can you blame David Stern for banning hand-checks, making a “defensive three second” rule, telling referees not to call 4-step-travels if it’s to finish a fast break? Isn’t that what looks exciting on TV?? Isn’t that why TNT’s “We Know Drama” motif wanted to get the NBA Playoffs this year (I don’t know how much they paid – but they paid well I’m sure). So when the NBA rules that Stoudemire and Diaw get a one game suspension when Phoenix is nearly facing elimination just for walking 4 paces towards their team leader for after he was body checked by a guy twice his size, you have to remember that the logical, most common-sense ruling isn’t the one that’s going to attract the biggest TV audience. If everyone that didn’t watch the end of the Suns-Spurs Game 4 woke up the next morning and saw that the NBA Commissioner had made a completely expected and logical ruling on this situation (Horry gets suspended for anywhere between one game and the rest of the series) then no one would care because the punishment fits the crime and business would continue as usual. But everyone knows that any attention is good attention if you’re in the TV business, so if an outrageous ruling was made that made no sense at all but was a legitimate rule and got everyone who’s ever loved basketball to sympathize with the completely-screwed-over Suns, then it would make all of those people make sure to tune in to watch the weird match-ups and passionate play of the rest of the Phoenix squad on Wednesday night. And that’s what happened. It worked perfectly. So the NBA Commissioner doesn’t mind playing the bad guy if it’s going to boost TV ratings and put money in his pocket. Would you?