Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Game 82 - It is finished...

Nets lose to the Cs on the road. Not on TV (at least not Verizon, that I can tell). It was sorta kinda close, in a schoolyard kinda way. The Cs are the #1 Eastern seed. The Nets are going home.

Are the Celtics 32 games better than the Nets?

I wonder - Pierce has won 0 titles, Ray 0, KG 0. I'm not convinced that they can even win the East, much less the title. Then again, if this is the street ball league, who's gonna stop them?

It's funny - we talk NFL, we think coaches - Parcells, Bellichick, Landry, Lombardi... We talk baseball, we think managers - Lasorda, Pinella, Torre, Sparky... We talk hockey - Bowman, Arbour...

We talk NBA and the only coach we talk about is Phil, and maybe Pop, but mostly we talk talent. And not smart talent, not fundamentally sound talent - not, say, Steve Nash - but raw talent. Shaq. Kobe. Lebron.

Not that Shaq, Kobe or Lebron CAN'T be fundamentally sound, they certainly can. We see flashes. But mostly we see flashy.

Can the talent in the NBA be coached? Is the Lakers' success this year all about Pau Gasol?

In 1967 the 76ers got a new coach, Alex Hannum. He took his best player, one Wilt Chamberlain, aside and told him, look - you have all the records in the book. You've done amazing, gargantuan things. Yet you lack a championship ring. I have an idea that if, when the ball comes to you, instead of fighting off the double- and triple teams they throw up against you and shooting, you find the open man, or men!, they'll have easy shots, undefended shots, and we'll be unstoppable.

That's coaching. Imagine telling the league's greatest offensive player to stop scoring and start making assists. What was he, nuts?

Funny thing - Wilt listened. He led the team in assists and was 3rd in the NBA (a center!). The Sixers won 69 games and, most importantly, won the NBA - the only team to break the Celtics' stranglehold on the NBA championship in the 60s.

Tim Duncan is a great and heady player, and fundamentally sound. But I also have to think that he listens to Greg. And by listening to Greg, he sets the example, and then the rest of the team listens to Greg. The result? 4 championships.

I like watching San Antonio like I liked watching the Nets from 2002 thru 2006. Now we seem to have a street ball team.

I'm not interested in circus shots and flashy dunks. Championships are not garnered with circus shots and flashy dunks. A circus shot or a flashy dunk is worth no more points on the scoreboard than a dorky but fundamentally sound lay up.

I like people getting open. I like defense. I like boxing out. I like looking for the open man.

The basketball season for the Nets ended on that disastrous 0-9 stretch in January. Since then it's been street ball.

I don't like street ball.

If that's what the Nets have become, they've lost a season ticket holder.

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