With the Los Angeles Lakers beating the Boston Celtics in last night NBA Game 7 title game 83-79, they won the franchise’s 16th NBA Championship, one fewer than the Celtics have won.
The ghosts of Wilt Chamberlain and George Mikan are likely turning over in their graves in disgust. It wasn’t a game that any former Lakers championship player such as Jerry West or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar could be proud.
There is a reason why last night’s game was the first professional hoops game I watched all season, although one of the main reasons was that all the major league baseball games were already over by the second half.
I do like the game of basketball, and watched most of the NCAA Conference tournaments and the NCAA Final Four. Those seemed to happen light years ago compared to the two months of playoffs we just went through. It was exactly two months to the day (April 17) that the NBA playoffs started in 2010 before we arrived at Game 7.
While I like the college game, the professional game is far different.
With all the on-court, physical contact last night, it was a disgusting display of thug-ball, not basketball. Combined with all the complaining after each whistle, it was brawl-bawl, too, not basketball.
The professional game is not reminiscient of the basketball game I used to know, or even the college game now.
Most every possession last night constituted physical contact similar to an NFL game. Why not put pads on these guys, and let them really go at it?
There were just too many fouls, a total of 44 for the game. And when a foul was called or any whistle blown, it was one player either complaining to the referee or showing disgust by walking around the floor with a mad face and arms up in the air.
Is that the type of game we want our children watching? Are the youngsters today now supposed to complain after every call by the referee? I see it in local high school and recreation league games now. There is no respect for the referee or the game.
But lucky for all of us, the late hours of the game did not allow the children on the East coast to watch most of the game. I know my son went to bed at half time*.
*But we did see the entire USA/Slovenia soccer match today. First time I ever watched an entire soccer match. Pretty exciting actually .
Every call in last night’s Game 7 got a complaint. And it is funny on how and why they complain, because I have never seen a referee actually say, “you know, you’re right, Mr. Multi-millionaire basketball player. Let me change my call to make you happy.”
And “working the ref” is never much productive, either. So live with the call, and move on. You probably will get more sympathy and calls in your favor if you DON’T complain at everything.
We can all learn something from Armando Galarraga, who took Jim Joyce’s blown perfect game call with a smile and a lot of class.
Even Kobe Bryant late in the fourth quarter, on an obvious high collision foul on Ray Allen in the paint, complained to the referee after the whistle was blown.
But the best was Rasheed Wallace, who after clobbering Pau Gasol over the shoulders trying for a rebound, walked around the court with an ugly look on his face (not so hard to do for Rasheed) in that he couldn’t believe he was called for a foul.
Lucky that Gasol didn’t have his collarbone broken on the play as he was chopped so hard.
This really needs to stop in the NBA. It is tough to witness. The entire game was ugly to watch.
One thing about the greatness of the game of basketball is set plays, and the movement of the players without the ball. Most players do not move without the ball anymore; they just stand around and whip passes around the perimeter.
The only set play you saw last night, and it was continuous, was the three or four quick passes along the perimeter to find and open guy for a jump shot.
And Kobe missed many of his.
That’s it. It had to happen about 80% of the plays. And amazingly, one of the analysts (I think it was Magic Johnson, who was surprisingly insightful a few times last night) praised Celtics coach Doc Rivers after one such play, saying that Rivers (and I paraphrase), “is great setting up plays during the time out.”
Not so hard when that is the only play in the playbook.
One of the biggest things we teach kids in playing baseball is to know what you are going to do with the ball on offense BEFORE it is passed to you.
The same can be said about the ball handler in basketball. Know what you are going to do with the ball BEFORE you leave your feet.
So often last night, the player in mid-air had to switch gears when he was airborne. They had no idea what to do with the ball, but was often lucky enough to find an open player. It was the only time that players without the ball moved…to help the airborne ball handler out of trouble.
Bryant’s pass to Artest late in the fourth quarter was one of many examples. Artest exclaimed afterwards he was shocked Kobe would pass the ball to him! “Kobe never passes the ball to me,” said Artest during his teams post game celebration.
And it was ironic that the final game was in Los Angeles, the area of the country which hosts the Academy Awards.
Why does every professional hoops player insist on acting after every single type of contact? Players 25 feet from the hoop are made contact with, and they throw the ball up to the rafters trying to intimidate the referee into believing he was in the act (there is that word) of shooting.
Gasol, who was no doubt a presence in the middle, with his game high 18 rebounds (nine on the offensive glass), was always with his arms up, claiming he was fouled. He won more acting awards last night than Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino…combined.
The way he shot free throws (7-15), Gasol might have been better off not acting that way and getting off a decent shot.
But that was impossible last night in a game where every possession was hotly contested. With the score 40-34 at the half, it was a game similar to the days of the old Minneapolis Lakers, but only in points scored, not in style of play.
This is a one-on-one league where isolation and long range jumpers reign supreme. There were only 11 fast break points in this game, combined for both teams.
The Magic Johnson’s “Showtime” Lakers usually had 11 fast break points by the mid-point of the first period.
Last night’s disgusting play is not the only negative I see in the NBA.
The NBA is now a league of superstars, where one player can dictate a franchises success, or, if he leaves, their demise.
When one player such as LeBron James, no doubt a great talent, can impact a city and franchise by deciding if he wants to take the New York Knicks good money or settle for his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers money, the game has drastically changed.
LeBron is even being consulted who the new Cavaliers coach will be, with the team reluctant to make a bad choice because LeBron could take his game elsewhere.
That is similar to the games Magic Johnson played with Paul Westhead and Kobe played early on with Phil Jackson.
There was a report which had all the top free agents this offseason meeting to discuss how they were going to talk about their options in their upcoming free agency.
Is that considered collusion?
It is part of the game today that the superstars get the calls, the superstars dictate play, the superstars whine and complain about every call.
The NBA game is too star-oriented, and while it is great for jersey sales, is bad for the game on the court. It differs from other major sports, in that if one player leaves a team, it doesn’t drastically change the landscape of the league.
In the other sports, there are too many players on each team for one guy to significantly alter the game over an entire season.
It is true that sports run in cycles, where the game is mostly scoring and no defense and then mostly defense and no scoring, like in today’s game.
The best is when there is a combination of both.
There are things I did like, however. I liked how Phil Jackson kept Kobe on the bench to start the 4th quarter, letting him sit and watch his teammates come back against the Celtics.
And for those who feel that Jackson is overrated due to the star players he has worked with, the Chicago Bulls did not win with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen together until Jackson arrived in the Windy City.
Also, the Kobe and Shaq Lakers did not win a title, either, until Jackson arrived in Hollywood.
I also like how Ron Artest basically was a winning ball player, keeping his emotions in check and playing the game of his career.
But the negatives far outweighed the positives.
The ultimate goal, though, is to win the game, and the Lakers did just that. They beat the Celtics at their style of thug-bawl.