By Ray Stern
By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
Over the Suns' 114-106 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals, of course.
Why, this crestfallen kingfisher consumed an entire bottle of Old Crow to drown its dejection over the defeat. What a cruel, abrupt end to what was supposed to be the Suns' year, one propelled by the combined solar power of Big Stat Amaré Stoudemire, two-time MVP Steve Nash, Shawn "The Matrix" Marion, Raja "Boom-Boom" Bell, and Leandro "Brazilian Blur" Barbosa.
So, pardon The Bird's bourbon-fueled verbiage, but what the eff happened to our frickin' championship?
This meadowlark would love to blame it all on the NBA's cornholio-Commish David Stern. His retarded reaction to Robert "Hurt-a-Man" Horry's flagrant foul of point guard Nash penalizing Stoudemire and Boris Diaw a game each for leaping off the bench to Nash's defense all but ensured that Game 5 would go to the Spurs. Still, even without Big Stat rockin' the boards, the Suns nearly won it at home, falling four points short of victory, with a heartbreaking 88-85 final.
Nash stoked his teammates in Game 5, sputterin' low on fuel only toward the end. It was like the Suns were flippin' a fat bird right into Stern's wrinkled, womanish puss. Ever the equine turd-factory, Stern remarked to ESPN Radio's Dan Patrick that Stat and Diaw "took themselves out of the game" by leaving the bench in Game 4 to aid their beleaguered captain. Huh? They didn't even get the pleasure of kicking Horry's skinny ass, which Stoudemire would've had no trouble doing.
Heck, if this pterodactyl had its way, there'd be more physicality in pro basketball, not less. These athletes are paid gazillions a year, so they can weather the occasional elbow in the gut, especially in the playoffs. If the NBA plans to overreact to every little pseudo-skirmish, why not put the boys in spats and make 'em play croquet?
Stern henchman Stu Jackson shouldn't have penalized Horry, much less Stat or Diaw. Sure, Horry pulled a flagrant foul. Deal with it with free throws, et al. during the game, and move on. As that didn't happen, Suns coach Mike "Mr. Nice Guy" DAntoni should've put in some big galoot like Pat "Irish Spring" Burke in Game 5 and had him bump Tim Duncan's fanny into the third row.
But Coach D didn't execute anything like that in Game 5. In fact, he didn't do anything differently during a donnybrook in which two of his main guys were out. Gee, Coach, what're you on, Ecstasy, or something? You don't have to be the NBA version of Sun-Tzu to know you might need a different strategy once in a while, like an alternative to your fast game. Like a dirty trick or two.
Nonetheless, going into Game 6, this kooky crane was cocky. It figured, if the purple tide could get so close to whippin' the Spurs' keisters sans Stoudemire and Diaw, then the Suns would be golden with all men on deck. Stat lived up to his handle, netting 38 points in 40-plus minutes. But Diaw sucked donkey scoring one measly point (on a free throw) for his 13-and-a-half minutes on the court in the whole game.
Diaw wasn't the only disappointment. Leandro Barbosa scored a subpar (for him) 13 points. Space-alien look-alike Shawn Marion? 11 points. Bell did slightly better than his average, earning 13, but that hardly made up for all the bricks he lobbed.
As far as Nash went, stat-wise, his 18 points and 14 assists look good in the box score. But they don't tell the tale of how he lost this game: first, by letting the Spurs set the pace from the beginning; then, by allowing San Antonio to go from a two-point lead at the end of the first half to a 14-point spread by the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Nash confessed postgame that the Suns "fell asleep mentally" in the third quarter. They've got another name for "falling asleep" in a playoff game, Stevie. Choking. Sure, Nash shot some crucial three-pointers late in the fourth, but by then it was too little, too late.
Look at the grief Nash's buddy, Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks, earned after blocking Nash from winning the MVP title for the third year in a row. Golden State eliminated the Mavs in the first round, but the big kraut became MVP all the same because of his regular-season performance. Sure, Nash didn't suck nads in the playoffs like Nowitzki, and the Suns did get farther than the Mavs. But the thing is, an MVP's supposed to be the dood who motivates his fellow players to traverse the proverbial hump. Nowitzki played like a starry-eyed rookie, and Nash slacked when his team needed him most.
Like Charles Barkley and other sports bloviators are always saying, MVPs need to "take over" a game. Something Nash failed to do on Black Friday.
That's the reason Nash is the Suns' post-regular-season goat-boy. There's just no excuse for Nash's lethargic third-quarter performance, even while in enemy territory. (Cotton Fitzsimmons, the Red Auerbach of the PHX, must be rollin' in his grave!)