I swear (fingers crossed, just in case) that this is my last (probably) post about Steve Nash and his general overratedness (but to be fair, he is really overrated). But seriously, the dude deserves the title of escape artist for squirming out of the "Can't Win When It Matters" shackles.
This is the shame of David Stern's suspensions. The headline across ESPN after San Antonio won was something along the lines of SPURS WIN* (not that they're trying to influence public opinion or anything). The Spurs won...kinda...there are a lot of what-ifs...the Suns could have (should have?) won.
Where are the questions of whether Steve Nash can ever get to the championship? Where are the columns suggesting that maybe it's not possible to win a championship with absolutely no defense? Where is any criticism of the Suns?
Lost in a pile of what-ifs.
Of course, we can't blame Mr. No-Rings-but-plenty-of-MVPs for how the series played out. It's not like he's actively suggesting that the series should have an asterisk.
"I can sit up here and complain about it after the fact... I guess cry about it after the fact,"
But, of course, you're not going to, right?
"But it's tough not to just think forever what would have happened if this stupid rule didn't get in the way of this series. There's no guarantees of anything, but to come this far and put this much into a season and for us to be without two key guys for Game 5 for nothing we instigated -- and for not either one of them having a malicious tone in their offense -- will forever haunt us."
Wow. That sounds a lot like crying after the fact.
"But I don't want to cry about it after the fact. The Spurs played great."
Let's review: I don't want to cry after the fact --> waaaaaaaaaah, we got screwed! waaaaaaaaah! --> seriously, I'm not going to cry after the fact
Not that I can really blame Nash for playing this up. I too would be trying to distract people from the fact that once again you have fallen short of the NBA Finals. I too would want to pawn the Game 5 loss off on the easy suspension excuse before people looked at the box score and realized that you were 1-for-8 in the fourth quarter of that game (including a ridiculously bad final attempt with plenty of ticks left on the clock).
Look, it was a bad break for the Suns, no doubt. But to question the legitimacy of the series is stupid, because it ignores so many other factors.
First, the Suns (not Horry) initiated the brief scuffle. All Horry did was give a hard foul, one that he said he would do again if in the same situation. Hard fouls happen all the time in playoff basketball, and are usually met with some words and glares from the opposing team. But when you race at a guy with your fists clenched like a drunken frat boy, you are raising it to a new level. Did Stoudamire and Diaw have ill intent when they came off the bench? It certainly didn't appear so. They looked to be taking preventive roles. But if the on-court Suns had not raised the level to where something needed to be prevented, none of this would have happened.
Second, I don't want to hear this bullshit about "If Amare Stoudamire had played, the Suns would have won game 5. Period. No argument." If the hip check incident had not happened, or had the incendiary suspensions not been handed out, game 5 is a completely different game.
Would the Suns have stood a better chance with Stoudamire? Certainly. Would they have won the game? Don't know. But guess what? They had every chance to win the game without him. I know, I know, they were tired and worn too thin because they only had six players. I'm not buying that excuse because these are professional athletes, and these are the playoffs. Endurance should not be much of an issue, at least not so much of an issue that you blow an 8-point lead in five minutes. Remember, Kobe and Shaq played virtually every minute of every game in their title run.
Of course, the NBA commentators have to have something to talk about while we all wait around for the Spurs and Pistons to trudge through the most uneven conference finals in recent memory (I would love to be proven wrong here). So we're going to hear the same Suns-got-screwed, asterisk-season montage for the next week or so.
And there sits Steve Nash, a significant part of six legitimate playoff teams that had their chance and blew it. There he sits with everyone's pity--pity that the Suns got screwed, pity that he didn't win his third MVP, pity that he hurt his nose--and nobody's criticism. Well, except mine.
You can always count on YCS to be the voice of cynicism in the sea of feel-good media romances.