Friday, May 1, 2009

Where will amazing happen?

Sports Guy is worth reading (even if he is the most homer of all Boston homers)

At this point, I honestly expected Rufus to say something. Everything was in play, even talking dogs. We are watching a first-round series in which five of the first six games have come down to the final play. Four of those games went into overtime. One went into double OT. One went into triple OT. It's the wildest first-round series ever played. Whatever happens in Game 7, we will remember it as one of the most incredible matchup in NBA playoff history.

Derrick Rose took the superstar training wheels off. Rajon Rondo turned into Isiah Thomas, The Sequel: Just as talented, just as hated, just as nasty. Ben Gordon and Kendrick Perkins turned into Andrew Toney and Robert Parish. The great Ray Allen became a minus-130 favorite in the "Reggie Miller versus Ray Allen" argument and might have to change his name to "The Great Ray Allen." Paul Pierce added to his legacy and sullied it a little at the same time. Brad Miller made the Faces Hall of Fame and the Dorkiest White Guy Celebrations Hall of Fame. John Salmons and Glen Davis put themselves on the map as bona-fide NBA players. Kirk Hinrich redeemed his career. Stephon Marbury destroyed what was left of his career. Doc Rivers and Vinny Del Negro inspired their players and undermined them at the same time.

There were so many great plays and shots and moments that they have all blurred together. I've watched every second of this series and cannot remember how many clutch shots Ray Allen nailed over the past five games. The number might be nine. The number might be 15. The number might be 23. I couldn't tell you. They have all morphed into one super-duper clutch Ray Allen shot: The man flying off a screen, lulling his defender to sleep, then springing for his shot with perfect form. He is the greatest pure shooter I have ever seen. Ever. Not since Bird has anyone given me the feeling, "We might be down three, but we are absolutely tying this game."

I watched every moment of this series and can't remember how many times Derrick Rose wheeled into the lane, spun one way or the other and either scooped in a layup or a floating one-hander. He does it again and again and again. He does it whenever he wants. Thank God, Vinny hasn't noticed. I have never seen a better athlete play point guard. It wasn't that he blocked Rajon Rondo's game-winning shot in Game 6 as much as how beautiful the play itself was: Rose sniffing out the move, mirroring everything Rondo did, then jumping like a frog and swatting the shot as cleanly as you can swat a shot. A perfect basketball play. That's what it was.

There are many great things about sports, but here's one of the best: You never know when two teams will click. I used a boxing analogy in my column after Game 2, and it still stands. Styles make fights and styles make playoff series. Has to be a constant tug between young and old, unstoppable and stoppable, physical and finesse, experience and inexperience, fast and slow, big and small, stupid and smart. You need guys continually rising to the occasion and pushing themselves to a level they didn't know they had. You need two teams (or fighters) hugging each other afterward and thinking to themselves, "Thank you. You brought out the best of me. Thank you."

We love sports for the simple reason that we never know when this will happen. It rarely does. We watch a lot of crummy games. We watch sporting events that had potential to be great and weren't. We watch sporting events that almost made it, but one dumb thing happened to screw it up: A foul at the wrong time, a penalty, a two-base error, whatever. We keep watching. We keep hoping. And when everything clicks, it's blissful. I am hearing from people who haven't e-mailed me in years. Readers are sending me 700-word e-mails. The thing that keeps jumping out: Even fans without rooting interests have gotten swept up in this series. How can you not?

Think of all the crap we deal with as fans. "Bulls-Celtics 2009" explains why we put up with every story about Clemens and Bonds and Michael Vick and Terrell Owens and everyone else who conspires to make sports less fun. On the same day of Game 6, a story broke that Alex Rodriguez allegedly seen with human growth hormone. The story was digested and consumed in the same predictably brief cycle: Mainstream Web sites and blogs and message boards and sports radio first, then "PTI" and "Around the Horn," then "SportsCenter," then newspapers and magazines. You can either throw yourself into that cycle or look the other way. I am getting older. I just want to watch sports. I have trained myself to look the other way. This stuff clutters my brain, and not in a good way. I just want to watch sports. I just want to watch sports.

Where will amazing happen?

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