Props for Pistons and Miller, Bonds' saga and more
Posted: Friday May 20, 2005 12:35PM; Updated: Friday May 20, 2005 1:01PM
Reggie Miller acknowledges the Indiana crowd that showered him with love for so many years.
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Here's a little round-up of thoughts about the good, the bad and the Barry this week.
1. Man, I'm rooting for the Pistons. Even last year, when they vanquished the Lakers (a team I'd grown up worshipping, though the Shaq/Kobe/Phil edition never quite popped for me the same way), I was impressed by their team-first, defense-always approach. Detroit reminded me, then and now, of a team I've spent the last few years covering (and appreciating): the New England Patriots. The Pistons make the doing of the little thing, an art form. They accept the system -- that almost demands starlessness -- of their stud coach (Larry Brown, cast in Bill Belichick's puppet-master shoes). They play as one, without the nagging problem chronic to most NBA teams: the maxed-out, salary-cap-clogging, coach-killing "superstar."
Their approach pays such dividends -- an NBA title last year, another one oh-so-close this year -- that I'm shocked every team doesn't play hard defense, dive for loose balls, accept a nine-man rotation, play even harder defense ... well, I guess I'm not so shocked.
And then there were the closing moments of Detroit's 87-79 series-clinching victory over the Indiana Pacers Thursday, when it became clear that 15.7 seconds remained in the illustrious 18-years-with-the-Pacers career of Reggie Miller. Indiana coach Rick Carlisle removed Miller to a beautiful standing O in Conseco Fieldhouse, a moment that 18,345 fans (and this guy, watching at home) wanted to last much longer than it would; after all, the game had to go on.
Only, it didn't. Because Brown -- who coached Miller back when dinosaurs roamed the earth -- called a timeout so the love-in could continue, gathering all his players and leading them to halfcourt, where they joined the serenade for the hometown hero.
Somewhere in New York City, one cynical, hard-bitten viewer got a little moist in the eyes. (Must've been my allergies ... though I have none.)
2. Despite the fact that Detroit is seemingly defending their way to a second consecutive title, I still love the parity that has finally made it to the NBA. More than any other league, pro basketball has always been marked by its dynasties; luckily, I happened to at least care for one of the few teams that have historically dominated the sport. But at the start of the playoffs, there were five teams that could conceivably win the title, and few others that could wrench the gears with a conceivable upset.
Whether by accident or design, the NBA can now claim one of the NFL's most attractive qualities: that most teams' fans can believe at season's beginning that their team isn't that far away from big things. If only they'd play a little defense, and dive for a few loose balls....
3. I am officially passing the hat, so we can scare up enough scratch and bribe whoever can ensure a Suns-Pistons NBA Finals.