Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Burning of the Midnight Lamp

"Hope Springs Eternal" or some such overworked platitude might be a more direct way to sum up the second round of the NBA playoffs thus far, but we're all Hendrix fans here, right? With the exception of the Celtics-Cavs series, which began unexpectedly late (no need to go into the specifics of that), the remaining three series have followed a nearly identical script: home team convincingly wins first two games, then drops Game 3 on the road, leading all interested parties to twitter about "momentum," "pride," lack of "quit," blah blah blah blah Christ I can barely keep my eyes open. As you, dear readers, might imagine, I have a strong psychic investment in the Celtics breaking this pattern, but that's unfortunately out of all of our hands unless Leon or Posey reads this blog, which I secretly believe that they do. Quite honestly, a Celtics win tonight would be magnificent, both because history would then be inexorably stacked against the Cavs and simply because it would demonstrate that the Celtics can, in fact, win on non-parquet courts. If the Cavs win we'll be subjected to 48 grueling hours of the media questioning the Celtics' intensity when they're not eagerly fellating King James; this does not sound like fun.

Aside from the Celtics I'd have to say that the series I'm most emotionally invested in is New Orleans' valiant attempt to guillotine the champs. Part of this is because the Hornets are lovable upstarts, part of this is because Chris Paul is to point guards what Eleanor Roosevelt was to First Ladies, and part it is because my hatred of the San Antonio Spurs has now reached blindingly irrational depths. It's honestly not even about the guys on the team anymore: everyone outside of San Antonio readily acknowledges that Bowen is a dirty player, that Ginobili engages in the sort of medicine-show floppery that's terrible for the sport, that Oberto is just Pachulia with an undeserved ring, so there's not much new to say there. I've honestly come to despise the entire aura of the team, the position they've come to hold in the collective consciousness or whatever. This is not their fault, I realize, but I hate them for it anyways.

An example: up until a few years, back when the Yankees actually won stuff (and continuing into well after they didn't), there was an excruciating trend in the way the team's games were announced that friends and I complained about endlessly. Basically, even when the Yankees were losing the games would be called as if they were winning. The team could be down 6-1, Jeter would draw a walk and all of a sudden there'd be all this gushing about how the Yankees refuse to lose, how guys like Jeter show how no lead is safe. Most of the time the inning would end and the Yankees would, of course, lose, which makes sense because that tends to be what happens when you go down 6-1 in any baseball contest, regardless of who you are. The thing that was annoying about this trend wasn't just that it showed a complete lack of respect to the team that was actually winning the game, the team that actually was refusing to lose; it was also just profoundly lazy on the part of the announcers. They had clearly been expecting the Yankees to win the game, which in those days was understandable, but then when they didn't win they wouldn't deviate from the script. They'd just prattle on about Jeter, Posada, even guys like Matsui who'd never won a fucking thing.

Needless to say, this has begun to happen with the Spurs, and it's driving me crazy. Granted, the last game isn't a great example, since the Spurs actually did win, but if you'd only been listening to the announcers without recourse to the score, you'd think they were leading wire-to-wire. You'd think they were dealing a blowout similar to the ones the Hornets had dealt them in the first two games of the fucking series. In reality, this was an extremely close game that until very late could have easily gone either way. The Hornets led at the half. If the Hornets had pulled through and won the game, the announcing would have been abjectly disgraceful, but you know what? It's disgraceful anyways. If I were a Hornets fan I would be absolutely livid about this, and I absolutely guarantee it will happen again on Sunday. When you go up 2-0 in a series you are absolutely the favorite; furthermore, by virtue of being the higher seed, the Hornets arguably should have been the favorites from the onset. Instead they're being treated as a foil so that we can hear about the Spurs' "toughness" and "resiliency," qualities suspiciously absent when they lost the first two games by a combined 37 points through a mixture of what appeared to be apathy and incompetence. But hey, who wants to hear about that? Bruce Bowen is a grinder! I'm losing control. Celtics-Cavs tonight at 8 on ABC.; get ready to hear a lot about the upcoming episode of Grey's Anatomy.


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