Garnett Foul Reveals Illogical Reasoning

Naturally, there was a huge outcry following the offensive foul called on Kevin Garnett that cost the Celtics a chance to tie the game very late in the 4th quarter. Garnett was clearly moving on the off-ball screen but the call was deemed wrong by many, including the likes of Pardon the Interruption’s Mike Wilbon, because of the situation during which the foul occurred.

Apparently, if there are 10 seconds left in the 4th quarter, offensive fouls of this sort are not supposed to be called. The fact that it is uncommon for a moving screen to be called during crunch time justifiably warrants some criticism. It’s like the lane violation that was called during this year’s March Madness that cost the Notre Dame fighting Irish an opportunity to move onto the next round. It doesn’t seem right.

Following the game, Celtics coach Doc Rivers did not deny that Garnett committed a foul. Rather, he pointed to the, supposedly, numerous similar offensive fouls that went uncalled throughout the game. A valid argument.

However, the anger surrounding the Garnett call illustrates a major flaw in our way of thinking. It is the logic across many sports that has more holes in it than a 6-year-old soccer team’s defence. Why humans feel that the rule book should become more lenient as a game moves into its latter and more stressful stages is baffling.

A foul should be a foul no matter what the circumstances may be.

The rule book is there for a reason. It isn’t meant to be enforced only when it so pleases us.

Fans don’t want referees deciding the games but by choosing not to make certain calls they are doing more to affect the game than they ever could if they called the game the way it was designed to be called. A referee making calls in tight, late games does not necessarily mean that they are doing more to determine the outcome of the game than the players.

It goes both ways. Paul Pierce did not get the opportunity to shoot the game tying 3-pointer. On the other hand, if Garnett had not been whistled for blocking much like a good right tackle, Andre Igoudala would have been caught up in the “screen,” unable to come close to challenging the Pierce attempt. Either way, someone gets the short straw. The question is, who deserves it?

Sports society has been brainwashed into believing that there should be 2 different rule books (actually 3 considering that stars are nonsensically assumed to get more calls. But that’s a story for another day). 1 rule book for most of the game and 1 rule book for crunch time. This is the way things are done so we accept the unacceptable. Wouldn’t you like it if your boss was more lenient to you on Fridays?

Life doesn’t work the way. Sports shouldn’t either.

The NHL is the biggest culprit of all the major North American professional sports. The 3rd and overtime periods are an anarchist’s dreams. They tried to change that post-lockout but the 2 rule book mentality is too deeply engrained in sports. The referees have reverted back to their old ways. Not a shocker there. They can’t help themselves.

The referees got the call right in Boston on Monday evening.

I mentioned that Doc Rivers citing the inconsistency of the referees is a point not without merit. The players need to know what they are allowed to do out on the floor. That can’t change from quarter to quarter.

Unfortunately, the legitimacy of Doc’s argument also demonstrates another error in our logic.

Consistency is a large part of being a first-rate referee. In spite of this, consistency is often times given too much worth. People will take consistency no matter what the referee’s interpretation of the rules are. Any way you slice it, it is wrong to think that an MLB umpire giving 3 inches off the plate is alright as long as he is unwavering with his strike zone.

Judging by Doc Rivers’ argument, it would appear as though he would be fine with a moving screen off the ball going uncalled for either team as long as it goes uncalled for the entire game.

Again, the rule book is there for a reason. For some odd reason though, consistency trumps all. Variations and bending of the rules is fine if it is consistent.

Consistency is good. But it should be consistency by the book.

It’s the acceptance of these senseless reasoning’s constructed upon foundations as solid as an Elizabeth Taylor marriage that bothers me most. A change in philosophy should come but that is highly doubtful.

Kevin Garnett’s foul expectedly stirred up a lot of controversy.

Too bad it was for all the wrong reasons.

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Super Teams are Super Bad for NBA

Competitive balance. That might be a phrase NBA fans will want to keep in mind for the future.

The media, fans and probably even David Stern love the idea of more super teams. Big players in big markets on big teams means big ratings, right? I mean, how crazy would a Heat-Laker final be with Chris Paul and Dwight Howard playing for LA?

Miami, Boston, New York, Los Angeles. The latest, most likely false, rumours speculate a move of disgruntled stars Chris Paul and Dwight Howard suiting up alongside Kobe Bryant in the purple and gold. A dream team of the best center, best point guard and best(?) shooting guard in the league is more than a little intriguing for even the most casual of NBA fans.

The idea of another “dream” team is no doubt intriguing but it is quite possibly the worst thing that could happen for the NBA.

It’s one of those slippery slope situations. Boston started it all with their OG big 3 followed by LBJ’s chosen destination and New York’s almost predictable failure in their attempt to create a super team dynasty.

The problem is, where’s the talent for the rest of the league?

Top tier talent comes at a premium but when that talent is concentrated in a few very select cities the premium becomes the non-existent. There won’t be any players left for the 25 or 26 other teams if this kind of ridiculousness persists.

It may be as much fun for you to keep up with super teams as it is for your girlfriend to keep up with the Kardashians but the obvious reality of the matter is that there is no NBA without the smaller market franchises. Competitive balance is already an issue in the NBA, especially in the Eastern Conference where a below .500 record can earn teams a lot more than a participant ribbon. Imagine what it would be like with a few more celebrity filled teams.

Amidst all the excitement, no one seems to be worrying about how the possibility of more super teams could severely affect the majority of NBA franchises. The league can’t work with 5, 6 or 7 teams carrying 3 or, dare I say, 4 superstars. The NBA is moving towards a league where glory driven superstars’ only hope of competing will be to put their egos aside and form a star-studded force of their own. It will become a classic case of ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.’

Oh yeah, the NBA will also feature 24 teams playing 82 meaningless games. 80% of fan bases won’t have anything more to cheer for than ‘fast to last!’ Sure, you can have your odd struggling franchises here and there, but a league full of them isn’t going to fly.

Chris Paul and Dwight Howard probably won’t end up in LA when it is all said and done but you can bet your bottom dollar that they will be offering their services to a contending team with other stars. Creating a legacy of your own is quickly becoming as popular as pogs have been in the last decade.

Too many fan bases without a star player to root for is a scary thought. The draft won’t be enough to compensate 20 plus teams’ inability to contend for a title. Hope is the one consolation for struggling teams but if the NBA continues to steer in this direction there won’t be enough hope to go around.

The occupy protestors should get where I’m coming from. The NBA will be the professional sports’ model of class stratification. Those franchises left out of the NBA’s super team exclusive country club won’t know what hit them. Soon enough they will be sleeping in tents outside David Stern’s office protesting the NBA’s 1% elite.

The NFL thrives on competitive balance and a constant influx of new playoff teams from year-to-year. Granted, football is much a much more team oriented sport than basketball and if you don’t believe me then you might want to look at the Philadelphia Eagles. Nevertheless, competitive balance, more than anything, ensures unwavering interest from fan bases from teams 1 to 30. Competitive balance is a big part of what increases the NFL’s already massive pool of money seasons after season.

NBA fans should stop supporting the prospect of more star-studded teams because in the long run it might just be the thing that kills the sport. A league of super team normality won’t spark the same interest that the Miami Heat have and still are generating. Individually the smaller market teams don’t mean much to the league but as a collective unit they are everything.

Competitive balance?

I wouldn’t mind a little more of that in the coming years.

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Miami Heat Get the Easy Route

Maybe the road is as easy as they thought it would be

The big 3 took the low road to winning a championship. Public reaction to Lebron’s dreadful 1 hour decision special could have been mistaken for the King selling his soul to the devil for a championship.

The highway to hell looks pretty good right about now.

Prior to the beginning of the playoffs it was almost inconceivable that the Miami Heat could be staring at a title after two rounds without Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in their way. The Lakers were supposed to be the final obstacle but an inevitable meeting with the Boston Celtics meant that the team built to win 5 championships might not even get out of the second round.

Screw logic.

The Heat ousted a Celtic team that probably needed a M.A.S.H unit on site more than anything else. L.A. was swept in convincing fashion by a Maverick squad desperate to remove the dreaded choke label that has surrounded the Dirk Nowitzki era.

It wasn’t unimaginable in any sense to see the Heat overcome the Celtics. However, taking down a Boston team that has been able to turn their game on with the flip of a switch was undeniably impressive.

The Heat are now the favourites to win the 2011 NBA championship and there isn’t any reasonable logic that should suggest otherwise. Everyone knows their two biggest hurdles have been overcome, with a little help from the Dallas Mavericks.

Due to a bit of an Oprah mishap, the Heat and Bulls are forced to start their series a day earlier than expected at the United Centre on Sunday. Wait, the Chicago Bulls?

Oh yeah, the number 1 seed out of the Eastern conference.

My personal favourite writer, Jason Whitlock, recently wrote a column on FoxSports saying that the Heat are no match for the Bulls. It may be plausible but it sounds like Mr. Whitlock just wanted to turn some heads and add some extra page views for Fox’s website.

He says that “the popular narrative is the Bulls look terrible, particularly on offense, against an IQ-challenged Atlanta squad.”

Really? I think the story goes more along the lines of a number 1 seeded team struggling against a 37-win Pacer team absent of any serious firepower. The Bulls are a one man show. Carlos Boozer has been a sorry excuse for a sidekick and the absence of consistency on his part isn’t going to change under the bright lights of the Conference Finals.

The emotional high of overcoming the Celtics is nothing like the Jets advancing over New England contrary to what Whitlock attempts to point out. The Jets weren’t nearly as good a team in relative terms compared to the Heat. It’s as simple as that.

Related: Miami is Wade Country

Miami is clicking as a team and the fact that the wins came easier because of the dislocated elbow of Rondo and lack of a healthy Shaquille O’Neal shouldn’t overshadow the evidence right in front of us. More importantly, the Heat have now proved that they can win meaningful and challenging playoff games.

The popular narrative coming from the Heat players is that the 3 losses to the Bulls during the regular season don’t indicate anything. They’re saying that this is a different Heat team that we are seeing.

As much as I hate clichés, they’re exactly right. Despite the brutal play of supporting cast members like Bibby and Miller, the Heat have found a rotation that works. Starting Joel Anthony at centre instead of Big Z has injected some real life into the front court.

Rose has shot 42% from the field and a sad 25% from beyond the arc in the playoffs. If Derrick Rose is off for the Bulls it’s game over. That’s not the case for the Miami Heat.

The Heat have been blessed with a ridiculously straightforward path to a championship compared to what they could have faced. It was supposed to get harder, not easier.

It’s almost as if we are handing the Heat a championship on a silver platter. No one is doing that. Not yet. Winning a championship is never easy and I’m sure the Heat have learned that by now.

Any of the 4 other remaining teams in the playoffs can and most likely will give the Heat trouble. It’s just not the magnitude of trouble that we expected.

If the regular season has told us anything, it’s that we should have believed a lot of what we saw. There are no dominant teams and seeing last year’s NBA finalists knocked out of the second round clarified that.

Anyone would be a fool not to believe that the Miami Heat are the team to beat. Two pre-season favourites are gone and the Heat have suddenly transformed from the bunch who took the low road to the team with the easy road.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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Miami is Wade Country

He almost fooled us. The constant Tiger Woods-like flirting with triple-doubles and talk of another MVP season from the self-anointed King James was leading us to believe that he had dethroned the proclaimed King of Miami. It was the Jeter and A-Rod question all over again.

On Wednesday night, Dwyane Wade officially solidified his rightful status in the series clinching game 5 against the Boston Celtics.

I wrote in July,
shortly after Lebron’s decision, that Wade was still the man in Miami. There were times during the season where it was hard to believe that. I mean, Lebron James is the best player in the world.

Then the 4th quarter happened. Lebron James couldn’t close out a game to save his life. He admitted after another disappointing loss that he wouldn’t let his team down again. Too bad for King James that it wasn’t the last time. Charles Barkley said on national TV that Dwyane Wade needed to have the ball in his hands at the end of games.

Lebron tried to step in as a leader but the damage was already done. The sentiment in Miami was D-Wade all the way and no matter what Lebron does in these playoffs that is not changing anytime soon.

Dwyane Wade has already brought a championship to the Miami Heat organization behind a Finals MVP performance. No one can take that away from him.

Both guys can tell you that there is no competition between them but every time Lebron has a great game, Wade is ready to come out with a brilliant performance the next time out. Wade might not be doing it for the fans but he isn’t going to let them forget who the sheriff in town really is.

In the first half game 5 versus the Celtics, Wade carried the Heat on his back. Lebron struggled to start the game, going 0-4 as Boston jumped out to an early 10 point lead. Wade on the other hand went into the locker room at half time with 23 points on 9 of 12 shooting, making baskets from all angles possible. Fade-aways, no lookers, you name it. In the series clincher, Wade was the one who came out firing on all cylinders.

Sure, Lebron took over in the second half with 23 points of his own while nailing a couple of 3’s in the final minutes of the game to virtually seal the deal for the Heat. He finally closed a game.

Lebron finished what Dwyane Wade started. It’s the beauty of the big 3. It’s also the reason why Lebron will always be second fiddle to Wade in the hearts of Heat fans everywhere. When the moment called for someone to step up, Dwyane Wade rose to the challenge on Wednesday.

Lebron can rack up all the MVP’s, triple-doubles and highlight reel dunks that he wants. However, all those things combined will still be overshadowed by the questions of his true character. Like a needy girlfriend, he had to have Wade. Wade never needed him.

Throughout the year, whenever the Heat were in trouble the media looked to Lebron James for a sound bite but it was Dwyane Wade who was looked to for guidance. The guidance wasn’t expected to come from a reclusive GM, an inexperienced coach, a timid thing 3 or an immature Lebron James.

It’s all different now. Times have changed, kids have grown up and there is harmony among the Heat organization. I don’t think anyone could have imagined in February that the road to an NBA championship could look so easy for the Miami Heat. In spite of everything that has happened though, Dwyane Wade has remained the constant.

On the court he may not always be the go-to-guy but I said it before and I’ll say it again. Miami will always be King Wade’s town.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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Shaq’s Health Holds Series in the Balance

Shaquille O'Neal is likely to be dressed sharply again for game 2

If you want to talk x-factor’s, there probably isn’t more of an x-factor than Shaquille O’Neal. They might as well put his picture beside the definition on Urban Dictionary. Then the kids will understand.

Shaq has been struggling with calf problems the past three months and his missed all five Celtic playoff games so far. Even though Shaq scrimmaged on Monday he is considered doubtful for game 2 against the Heat.

There’s an awful lot of fuss over a 39-year-old guy who averaged just over 20 minutes a game this season in 37 games. Too bad for the Celtics there is a good reason behind all the worry.

With all the intriguing position matchups the return of a healthy Shaq could represent a shift in the balance of power. Advantage Boston.

For 20 minutes a game the Heat will have no one that can stand up to the Big Diesel.

The lesser of the two O’Neal’s, Jermaine, has done a decent enough job for a guy who was supposed to be, at best, the third string center on the Celtics. Like Shaq, Jermaine O’Neal could probably also pass off as 39 year’s old out on the court. However, various health issues have taken the explosiveness out of the former perennial all-star.

The extended minutes that Jermaine has been getting are not ideal yet with Nenad Kristic only seeing 5:41 of floor time in game 1, the Celtics are going to need another solid performance from big baby-faced O’Neal.

Solid might not be enough for the Celtics though.

This is where Shaq comes in. His benefit goes far beyond the lane presence he provides. With Ilgauskas or Anthony “clogging” the lane for the Heat, Shaq forces the defence to pay attention to him. He might not have the scoring prowess that he did just two years ago but he still has the ability to take some of the pressure off of his teammates. That ability could be the difference in a game.

No matter which way you spin it, the relief his teammates receive is greater than whatever Jermaine O’Neal can offer.

Shaq even put up 18 points early in the year against the vertically endowed Memphis Grizzlies.

The mind-boggling trade of Kendrick Perkins has put the Celtics in a tough spot. Part of the reasoning behind that trade must have been the confidence in Danny Ainge that they would only face scoring challenged big men. No Dwight Howard, no problem.

I guess that plan hinged on the insurance of a healthy Shaquille O’Neal.

Maybe Danny Ainge was also thinking the lack of quality size in the Eastern Conference should allow Shaquille O’Neal to be enough of a difference maker. That plan still holds water as there is nothing to suggest that Shaq isn’t the man who holds the final key to the series.

Boston’s closing line-up may not feature a true center but if they are constantly having to claw their way back from double-digit deficits it really isn’t too important that their 4th quarter line-up features Big Baby instead of the Big Aristotle.

Doc Rivers says Shaq may be “likely” to play in game 3 at Boston. With the window of opportunity closing in on the original big three they had better hope that the 4-time champion is ready to go by Saturday.

Related: Shaq to the Celtics. Sure, why not?

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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