Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I love this game!

So, I completely destroyed my ankle playing tennis last week which prompted me to take two and a half days off from work (Yes, it’s that bad). I spent that time doing what a sub-thirty year old male does when he’s off work and principally immobile...I watched ESPN, the weekly showing of “The Godfather” I and II on AMC, and played an absurd amount of “March Madness ‘08”. Much like Peter from “Office Space”… “I did nothing, and it was everything I always thought it could be”.

Anyway, perhaps the most intriguing thing I watched during that whole time was an NBA classic films spot chronicling Jordan’s 63-point game in the Garden against the Celtics in the ’86 playoffs.

Now, facts of interest:

1. This was just Jordan’s second year in the league, and he sat out most of the year with a broken foot that doctors advised him to rest through the end of the season and offseason. So, he did this while recovering from an injury.

2. That Celtics team is easily one of the top three best teams in the history of the NBA. Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish, Danny Ainge, Dennis Johnson, and an aging Bill Walton. In fact, they were so good that they won that game in overtime. Which leads me to…

3. The Celtics swept Chicago in that series. SWEPT Chicago in that series…If that’s not a testament to the fact that a superstar scorer does not guarantee wins in basketball, I don’t know what does.

4. Larry Bird was quoted after the game as saying “…I think that was God disguised as Michael Jordan”…Larry freakin’ Bird!...That’s not exactly Craig Ehlo saying that. That’s Larry Bird, inarguably one of the top ten, probably top five, best players ever, and Jordan so demoralized anyone put in his path that night that the only way Bird could describe it was to say that it was like watching God play a basketball game against humans.

Now, my point in all this is that I’m very excited about the NBA playoffs for the first time since the ’98 finals, and that was due to being able to watch Jordan in what we all knew would be his last and that one of my favorite players of all time, John Stockton, had a shot to win a ring.

Why am I so excited?...

1. Because I’ve run through every possible first round matchup in the West and I would refuse to bet on a single one of them…And that’s the first round!...Not that there won’t be favorites, but, as Golden State reminded us last year, the West is just that deep.

2. Because watching that clip of Jordan’s 63-point game made me think that today’s equivalent would be Kobe or Lebron dropping that kind of performance on the Spurs (who will eventually go down as one of the ten best teams ever) or Celtics, respectively…AND THAT TOTALLY COULD HAPPEN!…I don’t know maybe I’m just jonesin for baseball more than I realize, but I can’t shake the feeling that one of those guys is going to assume the throne during this year’s playoffs just like Jordan did that year which, just like Jordan, may not translate to a title run… yet (I do realize that Kobe has three rings, but everyone knows that never happens without Shaq in his prime).

3. Because the thought of having a Lakers v. Celtics finals matchup excites me. You’ve got Kobe and Gasol, a dominating, prima-donna superstar and a weird Canadian that should not be as good as he is, going against Allen, Pierce, and Garnett, three sincere, legitimate stars that all suddenly find themselves resurrecting a great franchise after having to waste most of their collective prime on bad teams (sorry T).

This is going to be good because you don’t know what’s going to happen...What if the Celtics draw Cleveland in the second round of the East playoffs and Lebron decides to drop 63 on them in game two at the Garden?...Have you noticed what he's been doing to his opponents lately?...That could really happen!…I’m excited.



testudineous said...

I must concede that Garnett spent 3 of his 12 seasons in Minnesota on very bad teams. I would say of the remaining 9 seasons, 1 was bad, 3 or 4 were average, 2 or 3 were good, and probably 2 were very good. Just couldn't make it past those damned Lakers and Spurs! Anyways, if by "bad team" you mean everyone on the team but KG was bad---that is to say, we achieved playoff berths by only one man's efforts, which in some years I can't necessarily deny---then I guess he wasted several of his prime years here. If you mean he didn't win a championship, or played on teams that couldn't realistically go all the way, then I would say all but two seasons with the T-Wolves were, by that definition, wasted.

No one ever said Dominique Wilkins wasted most of his prime on a bad team.

But, I do hope he can finally get his ring, and if it has to be somewhere outside the Land of 10,000, I would be glad to see it happen in Boston.

dr.zeius said...

T - What I meant by "bad" teams is that:

1. They never made out of the first round of the playoffs...That could be because of those damned Lakers or Spurs or maybe because (gulp)they fell apart when it mattered, which is, more than anything, what separates good teams and bad teams.

2. They never even see the playoffs without Garnett. Which, if your assessing his team which involves removing him from the picture, means they were bad. I think it was his MVP year when they had their best first round...Garnett gave everything he could, but when it came to crunch time, opposing defenses doubled him anytime he got within 17 feet of the basket because they knew the rest of his team couldn't get it done...

Still though, what would make you feel better?...Me saying that he wasted his prime on mediocre teams?...decent teams?...The point remains.

Further...Why bring Dominique into this?...That's just ridiculous...

How is it that "no one ever says he wasted his prime on bad teams"...I wouldn't say that. I would say their best teams were pretty good, never great. Why?...Becuase they didn't win anything...When you have a player of 'Nique's magnitude and don't seriously compete for a title (they lost in the 2ND ROUND to the 86' Celtics 4 games to 1), the only plausible conclusion is that his teammates were not good enough (i.e. just bad enough) not to go all the way...

Thus, my comments about Garnette...

What's even more telling about your response is that you, of course, defended the Garnette era Wolves...If you really thought my comments to be inaccurate, why not comment on Paul Pierce?...He actually made it to his Conference finals.

All of that aside...Players play to win Championships, and all three of those guys were great enough to carry teams there in their prime had they had an adequate amount of help...So, we can banter about adjectives like bad, mediocre, kind of good, etc...But my point stands.


dr.zeius said...

Oh...and I really want Garnett to win it all...I've always like that guy.

I'd love to see Laker v. Celtics...I think it would be one of those ridiculous series.

testudineous said...

1. Like Paul Pierce, Garnett led his team to their respective Conference finals. Unlike the Celtics (by the way, a team below .600), the Timberwolves lost in the WESTERN Conference Finals. I actually do believe Paul Pierce has played on only mediocre or bad NBA-wide teams for the majority of his career. And, I am really loathe to admit this, the Lakers and Spurs really were just that good.

2. I don't know that your second point (though I take it) matters much. I can think of few teams recently that make the playoffs without a bonified franchise player (maybe the Bulls?---Ben Gordon might nix that). During KG's MVP year, we did have our best first round. And our best semifinals. And our best (but sadly, not good enough) conference finals.

If someone actually has said that about 'Nique, then I retract my comment.

testudineous said...

I'm sorry to have taken up so much discourse in response to what was basically an aside in your post. I'm cranky,'s just too soon.

Or, as per Mr. Vargas in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High": "Look, I'm a little slow today, I just switched to Sanka. So...have a heart."

dr.zeius said...

Correction - The T-wolves did make it to the conference finals...

2 points:

1. You're right that was an aside.

2. My second point is that if you doubled MJ, the Pippens, Kerrs, Paxsons, and Kucocs he had were good enough to either carry them forward or force teams to un-double him. The great teams, Bulls, Celtics, Lakers, etc...weren't totally dependent on their superstars.


simply reg said...

you just know the nba brass are praying to god (or Michael Jordan) for a lakers-celtics championship match-up this year. no doubt they were taking notes when the NFL rigged this year's season in order to give us the David vs. Goliath/Rebel Alliance vs. The Empire ratings bonanza that was the Giants vs. the Patriots.

p.s. pau gasol is a spaniard.