(I worked as a Sports Editor from late 2004 until the summer of 2006. This is one of the many columns I was able to save that were originally published in The Sun-Times of Heber Springs, Arkansas.)
Let me be among the first of my brethren to admit I was wrong. I know that must come as a shock to my regular readers, but I wasn’t alone in this errant opinion.
See I was one of those that thought the San Antonio Spurs were boring. But while watching this year’s playoffs I’ve come to a revelation. These are not my 30-year-old self’s Spurs.
That team really was magically dull. David Robinson was still on his tour of duty but was so creaky that it slowed the whole team down. Who can fast break when your center runs like a 70-year-old Galapagos Island turtle? Duncan was on the team and was at that time one of the best forwards in the game, but he deferred to the higher-ranking Admiral.
Sean Elliott was by all definitions disabled after his bout with kidney failure, and when Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili were added to the mix, Parker was still adjusting to the bit in his mouth and Manu just wanted to fit in as a role player.
While they can be deadly efficient and surgeon-like in their running of the offense, they can still blow the doors off as evidenced in their ability to run with the high-flying Phoenix Suns.
So, I was wrong. I admit it.
No, it’s not the Spurs that slow heart rates with their play, it’s the Detroit Pistons that cause paralysis when stared at long enough. The Pistons concentrate on the defensive aspect of the game so much they are even loathe to put their own lotion in the basket.
(I was wondering when I would be able to put a Silence of the Lambs joke in a column. Now I can concentrate on pointing out how Ginobili looks like Andy Garcia without making a Godfather III reference.)
The Pistons have been slugging away with the same style since Vinnie Johnson, Laimbeer and Zeke led them to back-to-back titles in the 90s. They had to develop a stiff defensive posture to get by the Man himself and found their way back last year by employing the same offensively challenged philosophy.
Which begs the question: Are NBA teams locked into a specific notch? Will the Pistons ever crack the century mark for a season’s average? Look at the Lakers, they have always been an up-tempo team, just like the Celtics, who won by employing good shooting, good passing, and excellent front court players.
I hope that’s not the case, because that would mean the Grizzlies will never get out of the first round. There are always seasons in which teams get an X-Factor type player and lady luck loves them all the way to the championship, but more often than not it’s the same teams that ride the same method of play back to the Finals.
After the Pistons won last year, the Eastern Conference became supporting players in ‘Attack of the Clones’. I guess the line of thinking from the east is a reversal of an old Ric Flair motto “To beat the man, you gotta be the man”. So, every team in the Least tried to do what Detroit did, but failed because they liked scoring so much.
I know the old adage is ‘Defense wins championships’, but you have to put the ball through the hoop in order to beat someone. And with the way the Pistons are firing, the only thing they’re beating are the helpless fans forced to watch the final hoop games before the never-ending summer of Lord Selig and his league of extraordinary juicers.
If this column seems a little more uneven than usual, it’s because I’m writing this while on vacation. I wish I could tell you I was writing from a sun-kissed beach or a sidewalk cafe in Rome, but I’m not. I’m composing this from the comfortable confines of my own living room.
And to those of you anxiously awaiting another installment of my running diary of Sports Kids Moms & Dads, never fear. Just because I’m on vacation doesn’t mean I won’t be tuning into that car wreck and I’ll file an accident report with you on Friday.