Thumbs Up: The Utah Jazz
They’re off to the Western Conference Finals, even though they were mostly dreadful last night. With 25 turnovers and 21/33 shooting from the free throw line, they were like a team of Inspector Gadgets. Remember Inspector Gadget? He used to solve all the cases despite never having any clue what he was doing—he would always come out on top essentially by accident. Meanwhile, Kirilenko (21 and 15) and Boozer (21 and 14) were sort of like the “Penny” and “Brain” of the group and did all the work.
One thing that totally baffled me: with about 3 minutes left and the Warriors trailing by one, TNT commentator Doug Collins said that Golden State coach Don Nelson “couldn’t have scripted this any better.” Wha?? Why would any coach prefer to be trailing late in a game on the road, let alone the coach of the most volatile team in the league? Throughout the playoffs, this had been exactly the type of situation in which the Warriors lose their cool, and sure enough Stephen “Dr. Claw” Jackson picked up stupid technicals and that was it for the Bay Area Believers. No, I’m sure if he’d had a choice, Coach Nelson would have scripted something else, like maybe being up by 20 and a water bottle full of Old Granddad tucked under his chair.
Thumbs Sideways: The Cleveland Cavaliers
Please win tonight and end this series; the only reason I’m rooting for Cleveland is because they’re ahead. These games are like 48 minutes of watching Christopher Moltisanti asphyxiate on his own blood. I do feel bad for Jason Kidd, though, who could’ve been goin’ back to Cali, Cali, Cali had Nets GM Rod Thorn not said, “I don’t think so.” Think of what a wonderful world it would have been: the Lakers might have been more competitive in the first round of the playoffs, we would have been spared from this series because the Nets wouldn’t have been in the playoffs to begin with, and Cleveland could have gotten bounced in the first round by some other team, because they suck too. I mean, seriously, Sasha Pavolovic is actually starting for them.
Thumbs WAY Down: Suspensions for Amare and Boris
I don’t have much original to say about this, but my thumbs haven’t been this far down since I saw the movie Babel (did we really need to see that Moroccan kid masturbating over his sister? Was that really advancing the already ridiculous plot? C’mon, editors). These suspensions are basically a permutation of what we see in other sports: the if-I-make-an-exception-here-than-I-have-to-for-everyone dislogic. You see it in everything from suspensions to not letting players honor someone with innocuous marks on their uniforms. Here’s the thing: no you don’t have to treat everyone the same. You're not Immanuel Kant, you’re a commissioner, and you can and should run your entire league using broad rules with arbitrary enforcement.
How did strict, irrational interpretation of the rules become the dominant methodology in our nation’s sports leagues when it’s so un-American? I mean, the Supreme Court revisits cases all the time, the Constitution gets amended, Oprah withdraws her support from James Frey…
In any event, it’s obviously pointless to argue the absurdity of these suspensions when Stu Jackson actually tells ESPN’s Chris Sheridan, "It's not a matter of fairness. It's a matter of correctness, and this is the right decision." Right there, you know what you’re dealing with: someone who feels fundamentally different about things and isn’t budging. Your might as well be trying to convince Jerry Falwell of evolution or Kitana Baker that Miller Lite tastes great…