The 2009 NBA playoffs is certainly living up to its slogan. Amazing has happened in most of the series. The conference finals continue the trend of final second suspense and Herculean efforts late in the games.
As amazing happens, however, players need to remember that humility should follow. Amazing attracts the attention of the media, fans, and outsiders alike. So when amazing occurs, as it often has in the 2009 playoffs, players need not forget that doing something incredible does not require an idiotic reaction.
I've been more than disappointed in some of the NBA players and their "amazing" reactions. Rather than basking in the glory of a big shot with some form of ethical jubilation, they've often chosen words and actions bordering on self-righteousness and obscene.
Chicago's Ben Gordon displayed histrionics more suited for a prison gang fight after some of his big shots in the first round. After hitting a big three while in Chicago, he turned to the crowd near midcourt and decided to display his excitement by grabbing himself below the equator. At home. To his home fans. Toward his team's bench. The one's cheering for him. Ben, rubbing your brilliance in someone else's face is bad enough, but what sense does it make to rub it in the face of your supporters?
The boastful display of one's superior performance hasn't been limited to those playing in the game. Kevin Garnett seemed as visible on the bench in his designer suits as he would have been on the court in his Celtic green. Maybe someone in the Celtic's organization forgot to tell him this. After many big shots and game-changing plays, the camera often panned to Garnett who most of the time was jawing with the opposing players' bench using a choice of words not even acceptable in some bars.
I liked Denver's Chris Anderson and his amazing defense, until his moment of foul mouthed absurdity. After picking up his fourth foul against Dallas, he sat down on the bench and the camera caught him at the perfect time expressing his displeasure. He exclaimed the referee made a call equal to bull feces.
This normally doesn't bother me because players often express their frustrations forgetting for a moment about the cameras capturing their every move.
But this particular one was beyond unnecessary considering "The Birdman" nearly severed a player's arm at the shoulder in an attempt to block his shot from behind. I'd hate to see what Chris would say in the event a referee actually made a bad call. It might be a tirade that would make former Temple basketball coach John Chaney cringe and say, "Chris - watch the language."
Eddie House seemed to hit an endless amount of big shots during these playoffs. It's hard not to think they were big shots, since after every single one he either turned to the opponent's bench to express his the magnitude of his magnificence or ran down the floor in what seemed like a schizophrenic shouting match. The Magic's Rafer Alston probably did what most of us non-Celtic fans wanted to do: slap some humbleness back into House's obviously swollen head.
Thanks to Eddie House, the theatrics after shots can come at any time during a game now apparently. I thought usually such celebrations and superfluous screaming came after game winning shots. Denver's J.R. Smith proved to me otherwise.
The other night in game three of the Western Conference Finals, Smith hit a three point shot against the Lakers to beat the third quarter horn. He commenced to yelling at the Laker's Sasha Vujacic as if Vujacic just hit on his girlfriend. Smith was promptly assessed a technical foul as he skipped away like Reggie Miller in Madison Square Garden. Trash-talking at the end of the third quarter didn't do much good as the Lakers won game three and seized the series lead on the Nuggets' home court.
Please don't take any of this the wrong way: players should express their exhilaration after amazing moments in the playoffs. I enjoyed watching Boston's Glen Davis run a 4.2 forty after making the game winning shot against Orlando in the first round. I loved seeing the NBA's MVP, LeBron James, hit a three-pointer to win it against Orlandoin the Eastern Conference Finals as his Cavs teammate Sasha Pavolic hung on for the ride afterwards.
All that I ask is that players realize the influence they have and to display a celebratory decorum that all fans can appreciate and watch over and over again. I want amazing to happen in every game. That shouldn't have to mean that the decay of anything ethical in the NBA occurs with it.
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