So here's my question: At what point are we compromising the competitiveness of these games? If you've ever played basketball, then you know that s---, um, staff happens during a competitive game. It's not abnormal for two teammates to start screaming at one another. It's not abnormal for someone to foul someone else a little bit harder than he intended. It's not abnormal for two opponents to start exchanging some good-natured barbs -- if anything, that kind of dialogue always livens up the game and gets everyone else going.What he said. Seriously what's wrong with a hard foul? What's wrong with a little bit of jawing? What's wrong with Mark Cuban popping off at the league for the frankly craptacular state of the officiating?
Believe me, I understand why we reached this point -- in the late-'90s, an entire generation of players weaned on hard fouls (like the McHale-Rambis clothesline), trash-talking superstars (like Bird and MJ) and constant woofing (from the Fab Five and UNLV in particular) ended up taking all three of those elements to inappropriate levels. I concede this point. But haven't we swung too much the other way now? For instance, when LeBron psyched out Gilbert Arenas at the free-throw line in the final game of the Cavs-Wiz series, that was one of my favorite moments of the playoffs -- not only that LeBron had the confidence to do something like that, but that it reminded me of something that would happen on the playground, just two ballers talking smack before a big moment.
Of course, the NBA decided that this was deplorable and ordered their referees to prevent this from ever happening again. (God forbid the last two minutes of an NBA game was anything other than formulaic and predictable.) But I think this is one of the reasons why I enjoy watching those games from the '80s so much -- not just because of the style of play (constantly moving, constantly going) but the competitive energy that never seemed to wane. Now guys are allowed to compete, but only to a point. It's like a glorified youth soccer game with more fans. And out of everything that's happened in the Stern Era, this was their biggest mistake. Well, other than continuing to have Bennett Salvatore work playoff games.
I've thought that this has been the most enjoyable NBA season in at least 10 years, but after the second round of the playoffs, they pissed it away by allowing the Same Old Shit to come back in, (not to mention the absence of anybody besides D-Wade able to make clutch FT's. Looking at you Josh Howard...) I just don't care. I might watch tonite, but I probably won't. And of course, all this BS is driving Cuban himself to consider selling the team, because goodness knows the NBA doesn't need owners who give a crap about making the product better.
Seriously, this 'fine the guy a ton for saying something bad about us' development is the worst thing to happen to sports in forever. Instead of telling Cuban to shut up about how the refs are bad, make sure they aren't bad first. Now it just looks, well, Stalinist.
Feh! upon thee, David Stern.