Opinion Corner: NBA playoffs: fantasticIs it possible that someone is scripting the NBA? I know that conspiracy theorists have thrown that accusation around before, but I ask that question merely out of disbelief that the last two weeks of NBA action have been so unbelievably dramatic.
By: Casey Johnson, The Jamestown Sun
Is it possible that someone is scripting the NBA?
I know that conspiracy theorists have thrown that accusation around before, but I ask that question merely out of disbelief that the last two weeks of NBA action have been so unbelievably dramatic.
I know that a lot of people complain that the NBA is boring, especially the regular season, and I would agree that at times the regular season can seem a bit mundane. However, I love the NBA playoffs because the majority of crummy teams have been weeded out, and we are left with some of the world’s greatest athletes actually giving their best effort.
Most would say that people getting paid millions of dollars should always give their all, but the fact of the matter is that a lot don’t. In the playoffs, though, the level of intensity and competitiveness gets undeniably amplified, and this year, we have seen that those catalysts can also lead to extreme momentary idiocy. As a result, the NBA playoff basketball that we’ve been witness to has been nothing short of a reality television producer’s grandest fantasy.
In all actuality, the start to playoff-caliber basketball began with the Lakers-Thunder regular season game on Sunday, April 22. The game pitted two of the Western Conference’s premier powers against one another in what many thought could be a late-round playoff preview.
As most well know by now, Ron Artest (Metta World Peace to a few willing people) had already greatly increased his energy and tenacity to the point that he deemed it appropriate to land a vicious elbow to the side of Thunder guard James Harden’s head. It may be that Artest’s elbow had more to do with an irrational lapse of judgment than playoff-level intensity, but I think that, in one way or another, he was trying to make a statement in a heated game. Regardless, it was truly one of the most abrupt and stunning occurrences that I’ve ever seen watching basketball, and it served well to indicate that the playoffs had, more or less, arrived. The fact that Artest was at the center of the matter should surprise no one.
Our first head-scratching true playoff incident occurred last Sunday during Game 1 of the Celtics-Hawks series. Displeased with a foul call in the closing minute of the game, Celtics guard Rajon Rondo got right in the face of official Mark Davis and earned a swift technical foul. Then, in an incomprehensible, Hulk-like fit of fury, he transformed into Ragin’ Rondo and decided to “chest bump” the official’s back. Indeed, his green jersey seemed fitting in his momentary state of rage.
I have no doubt that the whole episode was fueled by Rondo’s competitive fire getting the best of him, but that is really no excuse for trying to physically intimidate an official. Although the “chest bump” really wasn’t that forceful, Commissioner David Stern deemed it unallowable, and he slapped Rondo with a one-game suspension.
If Artest’s incident was the most heinous and the Rondo incident the most challenging of official authority, Amare Stoudemire’s incident was hands down the most bizarre. It appears that Amare thought that the only way the Knicks could beat the Heat would be to put them out, so he logically put his hand through the glass of a fire extinguisher case.
As a result, he severely lacerated his left hand, and he gave whole new meaning to the name New York “Nicks.” Stoudemire was bleeding so badly that paramedics brought a gurney into the Knicks’ locker room.
Stoudemire didn’t end up needing it, but he may have received more sympathy if he had. In fairness to him, he says that he wasn’t trying to hit the glass, as it only makes up a small portion of the extinguisher case, and it seems that he feels quite bad about the whole ordeal.
All of these supremely stupid decisions center around senseless physical actions. Another common bond is that they all involved key players allowing momentary lapses in judgment to keep them out of important games. Artest was suspended for seven games, six of which could potentially be playoff games.
Rondo got himself suspended for one game, although the Celtics were still able to win without him. And Stoudemire’s injury will keep him out of, at least, one game. It’s interesting to think that the course of these playoffs could be so drastically changed by any one of these very odd predicaments.
The other common thread that shouldn’t be lost is that these players have clearly acted out of tremendous emotion, which is fueled, seemingly, by intense competitiveness. Now, that’s not to excuse any of these actions, and I’m definitely not saying that I agree with any of them. Furthermore, I’m not saying that to be competitive you have to act out in some way. I’m just saying that these actions are a direct result of a competitiveness known only in playoff basketball (or playoff-caliber basketball in Artest’s case), and the amplified intensity is what makes the playoffs so incredibly compelling.
Without even mentioning the injuries that will keep Dwight Howard and Derek Rose out of the remainder of the playoffs, it’s clear that these playoffs have had unbelievable happenings and storylines.
The truth is often stranger than fiction, and in the same vein, I’ll withdraw the rhetorical question that I began with because there’s no way that these events could ever be scripted. The NBA has again proven that sports are the ultimate reality show.
Johnson is a 2007 graduate of Jamestown High School. He lives and works in the Twin Cities. Read his blog at www.http://caseyjohnson.wordpress.com/