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!)
In the press conference after the Game 6 debacle, the crybaby Canadian kept coming back to the "what if" factor. Asked what he could do next year to get past San Antonio, something the Suns inevitably will have to do in '08, Nash griped, "I think not having two players taken from us for a game would help."
Younger and greener, Stoudemire sounded more mature and confident than the veteran point guard. Postgame, faced with the same "what if," Stat's analysis of the situation was brutal and unforgiving.
"It is what it is," he admitted. "We got suspended for Game 5. It happened that way, but we had a chance to win it here in Game 6, and we just didn't get it done."
True dat. Said like the real team captain.
Isn't it reassuring that Zona politics attracts such sterling exemplars as Gilbert Mayor Steve Berman? This feisty finch's being facetious, natch. Berman, a hyper former cell phone peddler, was recently quoted as saying, "Eighty percent of Hispanic men in Mesa are in gangs." This, while he was chatting it up with folks protesting other anti-Hispanic B.S. he's spewed in office.
Anyone with half a brain would suspect that statistic's as bogus as Pamela Anderson's rack. But Berman ain't exactly the shed's sharpest plow. He's just a tool. Albeit, a jovial one. A happy-go-lucky Russell Pearce who's practically put up a "No Mexicans allowed" sign at the edge of his burg.
In March, after the deportation of three drag-racing Mexican teens nabbed by Gilbert police, Berman told the East Valley Tribune his goal was to make sure illegal immigrants know "this is not the town they want to come to." Then, in late April, he said on a Spanish-language radio talk show that the immigration laws are needed to keep out sex offenders and people with AIDS or tuberculosis.
The Valley's Hispanics are out of control, according to Berman. And on April 20, when Berman discovered that a passel of 'em were demonstrating against his earlier bigoted remarks, he took the opportunity to tell 'em so.
Berman bragged to The Bird that he'd been unarmed that day, so it took cojones to approach the group of about 50 to 60 individuals, some of whom were, he assumed, illegal immigrants.
"It wasn't one of those things where I showed up with camera crews and reporters and a bodyguard," he squawked. "I walked into a gang of 'em."
A "gang"? Jumpin' jaybirds, who knew the Mexican Mafia protests peacefully on public property? Berman told The Bird he found out later that undercover police had attended the demonstration, made up of regular Josés and Marias.
"The cops about crapped when I walked up," he crowed crassly. Berman claimed he told the protesters that with 80 percent of Hispanic teens in gangs, the community needs to do a better job of policing itself. This, despite the fact that an April 24 article in the Arizona Republic records him stating, "Eighty percent of Hispanic men in Mesa are in gangs."
The Rep's reporter botched the quote, he insisted, because "I don't believe for a second that 80 percent of all Hispanic men are in a gang." Berman's source for the stat as regards Hispanic teens? Mesa police Commander John Meza, who, Berman said, quoted the statistic to him last year.
Meza was "born and raised in Mesa; he's a Mexican kid," Berman said. "If it had been some, you know, some skinhead police officer with tattoos who said, 'Yeah, you know, 80 percent of them, you know, beaners, they're all in gangs,' I simply would have dismissed it. But John Meza is very well-spoken."
Um, you know, for a "beaner."
Asked by this worm-wrangler whether he could've bollixed Meza's quote, the cheerful chump replied, "There's nothing I can't screw up."
Got that right, bucko. Meza later informed The Bird that the correct stat was that 80 percent of gang members in Mesa belong to a Hispanic gang.
After this winged wonder conversed with Meza, Berman conferred with the cop and apologized at a Gilbert Town Council meeting for his latest misstatement.
But while Berman was jawboning with this grouse pre-apology, hizzoner was hardly contrite. He gloated that his statement had made him a "little hero" among members of the far-right wing, who've been sending him scads of supportive e-mails.
"When we did surveys for when I ran for office [in 2005], I did not score as well with the ultra-right wing, and I would have liked to," Berman said. "I want everybody to love me, ya know."
Yeah, the skinhead vote must be crucial in an area like Gilbert. But now that Berman's had to apologize, he may lose that valuable KKK endorsement. Poor Berman. He's too dumb to even make a good bigot.
Can you imagine the mayor of the fifth-largest city in America hiding behind his aged mom just because he's afraid of a couple of tough questions from a journo?
Neither could this astounded avian, but that's what happened after Mayor Phil "Goober" Gordon's State of the City address last week before the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. This tweeter's bloggin' doppelgänger, Feathered Bastard, flew down to the Civic Center to catch Philly Cheesesteak pulling out the pompoms and rah-rah-ing about how the PHX is right up there with London or gay Paree.
P-town's a city "on the rise," according to Phil. Indeed, the murder rate's up; rape, too. Heck, we're the 59th-most dangerous city in the U.S., but Phil didn't tell the chamber about those numbers, or that he's pooh-poohed 'em previously. Instead, he declared his support for a public safety initiative to raise the sales tax to hire 500 more cops. Why didn't pipsqueak Phil try something similar, like, two years into his administration? That's what the Feathered Bastard was planning to ask Goober in the promised Q&A segment of the program.
But then, Phil flack Lisa Honebrink said there would be no Q&A segment. Could he get some face-time with hizzoner, asked Mr. Bastard? Honebrink said top mayoral advisor Scott Phelps would make that call. So, FB waited around for an answer, finally got tired of waiting and approached Goober himself, shaking his hand, and requesting some mayoral chin-music.
That's when the Goob begged off, saying he had to escort his antique mom out of the building. When FB followed along behind Phil and his entourage, Phil made sure his mom was between him and the would-be questioner all the way, looking over his shoulder and whispering to Phelps, who grabbed two plainclothes goons to accompany mayor and his mammy to the elevator.
Was Phil afraid that The Bird's tenacious twin was going to jump him? More likely the pusillanimous pol was scared shitless he'd have to endure a rough query or two. Like why he took more than $7K in campaign contributions from execs at RED Development, while that company was bidding to bulldoze Patriots Square Park for downtown's multimillion-dollar CityScape project. Phil doesn't need the scrilla; his war chest is near $1 million. But returning contributions from entities with biz before the city could set a bad precedent. So, campin' out beneath Mother's petticoats must seem a lot more fun than being confronted about the paper you've stacked.
Heh, no doubt the mayor's peein' his pantaloons at the prospect of possibly having to debate his boy-wonder nemesis, the Rev. Jarrett Maupin, who, going on 20, is about 20 times the verbal gymnast than the tongue-tied Gordon will ever be. Can't imagine PHX mayoral candidate Maupin being fearful of a scribe, either.