The NBA Reset: 5/4/2011

Home court advantage? What home court advantage. We’re on to the second round and already the script is getting flipped. But let’s not be too hasty about a few one game disappointments. Time to hit the reset button and see where we stand.

The Starting Five:

1. Very Upsetting

The use of the term upset in the sports world is derived  from a horse race that took place some 82 years ago. The seemingly untouchable Man O’ War only lost one race in his entire career and it was to a relative unknown by the name of Upset.  From that point forward any time a huge underdog beat a highly favored opponent they were considered to have pulled an “upset.”

It is with that preface that I realize what a gross overstatement it is to call the what the the Grizzlies, Mavericks and Hawks did  in their first games “upsets.” They have all proven themselves to be capable (and dangerous) teams and I would hardly put the Lakers, Thunder and Bulls in world beater class of Man O’ War. So let’s not go over board here. These are quality teams versus quality teams. Even if the higher seeds lose these series it won’t have been that surprising.

I would add to the inconsolable fans of those teams who lost that the Game 1 defeats change nothing about my predictions for the series (I know, like you care). L.A., OKC and Chi-town will all advance. I think.

2. If They Could See me Now

A couple weeks ago I trashed the Zach Randolph extension. Then I said the Grizzlies were going to get smashed when the Spurs received the proverbial wake up call after losing Game 1. I am currently enjoying a bottomless bowl of crow seasoned with just a dash of salt. I can practically hear bemoaned GM Chris Wallace over my shoulder, “How does that taste, son?”

Okay. I’m a believer. The Grizzlies were phenomenal in taking out the Spurs in 6 games. The defense was championship caliber and the combo of Marc Gasol and Z-Bo was an absolute revelation. In fact, I take can’t gush enough about Randolph.

It’s sort of like watching an actor who you had pegged as a one trick pony (in Randolph’s case, being a numbers machine and perceived bad character guy who would never play for a winner) turn in a brilliant performance that you never even realized he was capable of. Think Jim Carrey in The Truman Show. Carrey somehow made the transformation from zany physical comedian to Jimmy Stewart long enough to absolutely nail the title role.

As far as I’m concerned Z-Bo has been the MVP of the playoffs. So good, in fact, that I expect the Grizzlies and Thunder series to come right down to the wire. All that said, my pick still stands: OKC in 7.

3. Feeling the Heat

Right now Miami are absolutely handling the Celtics, who look old and tired and dare I say, Spurs esque. Did anyone else see Rondo dismiss Pierce during a timeout huddle. Maybe he was just annoyed that it seemed like he was the only one who brought his A game during Tuesday’s match up. Maybe the fact that he’s practically the only Celtic without an AARP card had something to do with it.

Meanwhile LeBron and Wade are taking turns playing Batman and Robin. In Game 2 it was LeBron playing Bruce Wayne, pouring in 35 and 7 boards while Wade merely put up 28 and 8.

The one thing that screams out at me is the Celts shot 6 of 11 from downtown and still lost by double digits in Game 2.. In Game 1 they were 12 of 24 and lost by 9. Imagine if they can’t get into the paint and the jumpers fail them. This thing could get ugly in a hurry.

4. Well Deserved

If you’re a regular reader of The Reset you know I’ve been on the Derrick Rose MVP bandwagon since basically the dawn of time. On Tuesday Rose got his props and no one was happier for him than I.

In an emotional acceptance speech Rose displayed the kind of humility and class that I wish every NBA player had. They get paid millions of dollars to play a sport, something most of them have loved doing since they were kids. Yet we often find players who are more focused on the bling and the hype than staying grounded and reflecting on the people that helped get to them to where they are. Gratitude, it seems, is a lost art.

Take for example the following two pieces of video evidence. One the one hand, we have Rose’s acceptance speech. On the other, a rap video recently released by Lou Williams. Now, it would be ridiculous to say that these two instances speak for the entire NBA, and that players could be pigeonholed into one extreme or another. Either projecting eternal humility or massive ego. It’s far more complex than that, and the social, economic and personal factors that went in to forming these two particular young men mean that these two videos are merely snapshots of their personalities and I would refuse to judge either man based solely on one five minute YouTube clip.

But the two instances do bring up an interesting dichotomy, both for professional athletes generally and NBA players specifically. So watch. Listen close to the words of both men. Tell me what you see.



5. The Hawks Air Force

You know, I was going to go on a whole rant concerning Atlanta’s potential chances of knocking off the Bulls but then I found this little gem and I think it says everything I was going to say and more. I can’t decide what scares me more, the song or Fratello’s hair. Ladies and gentlemen, the 1986 Hawks doing there best impersonation of the Chicago Bears. Enjoy.



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