OK. I am officially done with the whole Barry/Fisher foul controversy. I spit my flames, I got over it. If you want to whine about the call or bitch at me for complaining about the call thats fine, but I couldn't care less at this point. Obviously he was fouled. Obviously the game was poorly reffed, something both teams have reason to complain about. What matters now is game 5, not game 4. If anything I find both sides of the argument to be indefensibly obnoxious at this point.
The only part of the issue I want to address is the conspiratorial aspect to the whole affair. A lot of people have criticized Spurs fans for falling back on the belief that the playoffs are rigged. I have seen a lot of comments questioning how a team that has won 4 of the last 9 NBA championships can legitimately claim to be discriminated against.
I myself have made numerous references to Stern's "puppeteering," so I figured my readers deserve a frank and honest discussion of what I believe is the relationship between the league and major-market teams.
OK. I don't believe Stern is actively trying to bring about a Lakers-Celtics Finals. I may suggest such a reality, but I don't genuinely believe it. That being said, when asked, Stern said his ideal finals would be "Lakers vs. Lakers." This, for me, is an inappropriate and highly problematic answer. The correct answer is that the ideal finals would be the best team from each conference taking on one another. That is the only answer that does not subject the game to any type of suspicion regarding the relationship between league profits and the success of certain teams.
With that in mind, Stern has always forwarded the notion that the league is as much entertainment apparatus as it is sporting venue. Never once has Stern acted without a concrete conception of entertainment and its relationship to profit in mind. I don't blame him, but I think it is unrealistic and probably disingenuous to act as if certain players and teams aren't disenfranchised/supported by such economic logic (I think this manifests itself most flagrantly in the inability of Jordan/Kobe/Lebron to commit an offensive foul or travel).
So where does that leave us? Fundamentally nowhere. I don't care about 4 championships at this point and neither should you. I also don't care if the games are rigged (I don't believe they are). Either way all you can hope to do is go out there and compete with vigor and valor.
Moving on to other topics:
Amazon has finally made it available to pre-order FreeDarko presents The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac: Styles, Stats, and Stars in Today's Game. You should do so. I will unashamedly admit that the primary impetus for my present writing is FreeDarko. Its unique conception of the way aesthetics, politics and sports can collide not merely in the culture of the game but within the game itself set a standard for me as a writer. I'm clearly not an FD writer. I don't approach the game from the same angles or values, but that doesn't mean I don't hold those gentlemen in the highest of regards. Buy the book. Read it. Believe in the basketball gods.
Lastly, I'm very frustrated there wasn't a more wholehearted attempt by TNT to show Ronny Turiaf on the bench during his yellow cam quarter. I may have been frustrated this last 24 hours, but my appreciation for Turiaf's Dionysian elasticity while on the sidelines knows no bounds. The man is crazy and TNT, in its boorish corporate mindset, robbed so many of us of the type of eccentricity that makes the NBA so flavorful. I am willing to try I again, but my general sense is the moment has passed us by.
I'll be frank: I don't expect the Spurs to win this series. Nobody reasonable does at this point. But we are the defending champs and I expect us to go into LA and give the Lakers hell. Let's shock the world. Let's go Spurs.