4/22/06 - Detroit 79-61 Cleveland - Lebron gone fishin'
Certain circles I run in have a strictly anthropological interest in sports. Confronted by a person who is seemingly insane about an objectively meaningless enterprise, they regard it a mystery to be solved. You do not seem like a mindless bread and circus type, Brian, so why are you dragging us into tres un-chic NYC bars to stare at televisions every other day? Etc.
At some point when the outlook was grim indeed -- or at least as grim as a 3-2 deficit can be when the Pistons regard it as a 3-0 lead -- I stood on a New York rooftop and attempted to satisfy the above anthropological query.
brian% ask "why do you like pistons?"
retval "in spite of it all, they persevere."
If you leave aside the obvious millionaires-in-Auburn-Hills bit, it would be hard to put together a basketball team that was more emblematic of the things about Detroit that are admirable, things that are more akin to bloody-minded survival than elegantly presented cuisine. Everyone from Ben on down to Antonio "I'm on my sixth set of knees" McDyess has taken lemons, punched them in the face, and demanded money. Detroit's a team that leads with its jaw and stays standing. They have all the pretention of an abandoned building. They make you feel like you're from Detroit even if you're not really, as my anthropologically-inclined friend reminded me, and they make that feel noble. So it's not much of a surprise that in my bi-daily sojourns to the various television-bearing bars of Manhattan, Detroit fans out-repped Cleveland 10 to 1.
And it's not much of a surprise that when it was finally apparent that the 2006 Flip Pistons were going home, Detroit showed the savior a fistful of nails.
- In retrospect, Cleveland made a fatal mistake by taking that 3-2 lead, but it didn't feel like that at all during the game, especially because Lebron fouled out with 6:38 left to go... at least in my personal universe. When the only part of Lebron that makes contact with Lindsey Hunter is his off-arm currently clearing out space for a shot, that is not a blocking foul. You cannot block someone's arm. Then the Chauncey thing severely dangered blood vessels all over the metro area and in certain New York bars.
- I continue to insist that Tayshaun Prince is one of the most underrated players in the league. He was probably the best player the Pistons had over the course of the series; in game seven he was killing the Cavs everywhere he went. Flip Murray couldn't check toast and got abused; Lebron ate a few layups, and whatever Prince missed he rebounded. Carmelo? Whatever.
- As pledged during game seven, Lindsey Hunter will be on the receiving end of 50% less shit in this space until he retires. Especially because of this:
The Pistons also got a big boost in Games 6 and 7 from 13-year veteran Lindsey Hunter, whose 5-year-old son, Caleb, was imitating one of Kobe Bryant's moves in the locker room after the game as his dad finished getting dressed.
"Kobe's not playing anymore, Caleb. He's watching," Hunter said. "But your favorite player is still playing, D-Wade, and we're going to beat him."
- Matchups are entirely different for this series -- don't know what to expect, but Detroit won't be doubling Wade on every play so the defense will probably be less prone to maddening Varejao dunks. Will the NBA give the defensive player of the year the same Shaq Elbow shielding they have Jason Collins? Do they really think Antoine Walker can stay in front of... well, anyone? Polite request: no 33% shooting games, por favor.