MIAMI - I know what the NBA’s slogan is supposed to say.
But after two weeks of great basketball in most cases, and relentless dramatics in others, the only thing that seems to be rising from the dust right now is foolishness.
From griping on and off the floor (more on that in a minute) to tough-guy antics (from as far away as the radio perch) in almost every single series to the continued assault on the game by an army of awful game officials, the playoffs seems more like where ridiculous happens?
At a time when the NBA game should be on full display for all to see, everything else is getting in the way.
I dare anyone that’s watched any of the Bulls-Celtics series to tell me they’ve seen more intense playoff basketball anytime recently. That’s what real lovers of this game deserve to see.
But it’s not happening these days.
Good luck focusing on what should be a frantic and fantastic Game 6 tonight between the Hawks and Heat here at AmericanAirlines Arena. Good luck enjoying yet another entertaining playoff series that’s being marginalized by the news of the weird that seems to be the flavor of every day this time of year.
And in true ridiculous fashion, verbal shots are being fired across the floor before the opening tip (and no, I’m not talking about the faux furor over Josh Smith’s missed dunk at the end Game 5).
Apparently Heat star Dwyane Wade didn’t appreciate Mario West’s version of the Ray Lewis dance at the of the possession just before halftime of Game 5. He lit West up to my man Mike Wallace of the Miami Herald and the rest of the assembled media here after practice Thursday. Here’s Wade going off on our man ‘Rio:
His celebration for his one stop? What is this game coming to? One thing I go back to is something my high school coach always told me. Act like you’ve done something before. He used to hate when I used dunk and pound my chest all the time. He used to tell me to act like I’ve been there before, act like I’ve done it. Win lose or draw, you have to be classy. There are some unprofessional things that they have to take care of. On the court, you show emotion, and that’s great. But celebrating after one stop, that’s funny.
The HP (Hypocrisy Police) might point out that Wade doesn’t seem to have a problem with jumping up on the scorer’s table and pounding his own chest after hitting game-winning shots or staring Joe Johnson down after making a deep shot off the glass in Game 2 or screaming for one of his teammates take Flip Murray out on a baseline drive for a dunk late in Game 5. But you be the judge? But Wade wasn’t done.
He had more to say about not only Wade but the Celtics and Bulls, too: I don’t know what it was a sign of. I was laughing after the fact because I’ve never seen that before. Tony Allen did that the other night when he stopped Ben Gordon from hitting a shot to win the game. That’s what you do. When it’s going into halftime and you stop somebody, that’s a little different. But we’re not here to point out every little thing they do, you know. Who cares? It’s about what we do. And that’s the only thing we can control.
He said all that to point that there’s no bad blood brewing between he and ‘Rio and certainly nothing personal between these two teams (before all but instructing his teammates to stir it up):
First off, I have nothing simmering with Mario. He’s not been a factor in this series. It’s irrelevant to me. I have nothing brewing with him at all. It was one of those games, one of those playoff series. It’s just about do we have the team to come back and fight as much as they’re going to fight. Zaza Pachulia is knocking people out. It’s simple as that. I’m not telling my teammates to knock him out. But when he comes down the paint, just make sure he feels us, on offensive rebounds. We’re not the team that’s playing dirty. We’re the team that wants to play smarter and protect ourselves as well.
THE HAWKS’ CAMP IS FAR FROM INNOCENT when it comes to baiting the other side. It seems Hawks radio announcer Steve Holman has enraged the masses here in South Florida with some of his in-game rants, so much so that the folks at deadspin.com have taken a liking to him.
I’ll let you judge the for yourself whether or not Holman’s calls were out of line. It hasn’t nearly the firestorm in Atlanta that it has here, where it’s been dominating the airwaves. But I imagine it will be one of the underlying story lines from tonight’s game, particularly if the Heat wins and forces a Game 7 Sunday back in Atlanta.
And we all know that they don’t need GPS to find their way to Atlanta since the Michael Vick story dominated the sports landscape.
PETA didn’t appreciate seeing the Hawks’ Hawk ridiculed after that unauthorized flight before Game 2.
In fact, they don’t want Spirit victimized at all, per the email they sent the other day (they also sent a different letter to Hawks’ part owner Michael Gearon Jr. expressing similar sentiment):
After learning that a live hawk used as a mascot for the Atlanta Hawks got loose in an arena, which forced a game to be temporarily stopped, PETA has sent a letter to Hawks owner Michael Gearon Jr. urging him to implement a policy to prohibit the use of live animals at Hawks games.
PETA points out that the bright lights, screaming fans, and loud noises (such as air horns, music, and amplified sound systems) that make sporting events exciting for fans can be terrifying for animals. Appearing at games can be frightening and disorienting to birds and potentially dangerous for birds and fans alike. The hawk is also subjected to the stress of transport to and from games.
“If the Hawks want to increase fan support, they don’t need cheap gimmicks—they just need to start winning games,” says PETA Director Debbie Leahy. “The only place where ‘birdies’ belong in sports is on golf courses, not at basketball games.”
Game 6 can’t get here fast enough for me. I just want to get back to basketball for a little while.
SPEAKING OF BASKETBALL, both Al Horford and Marvin Williams will watch Game 6 in suits. Neither one of the Hawks’ starters is healthy enough to play tonight.
Horford’s sprained right ankle will force him to sit while Williams remains sidelined with that sprained wrist on his shooting (right) hand.