Tuesday, April 15, 2008

FANtastic FANale

New Orleans 92 | Los Angeles Clippers 114
[league standings]

Let the people know. With the easy victory over the Clips, the Hornets have clinched their first ever Southwest Division Championship. Scratch that; first Division Championship in their 20 year existence. It was a pretty momentous occasion. What's more is that it was especially needed after a close losses to the Lakers and Kings on the road. The "W" put the Bees in the top slot in the Southwest and sealed their fate as at least the number 2 seed in the Western Conference. Not too shabby, eh?

The past four games have seen CP3 shooting at 33% a clip and putting up statistical performances that would really only make Tyronn Lue jealous. Ok, that's not true, he's averaging a very Jason Kidd-esque double-double over that stretch. Unfortunately, despite an otherwise brilliant season, these past few performances on his part may have ultimately have moved the MVP trophy out of Paul's reach. I (obviously) still think that he should win it if only because he didn't piss and moan (and bad mouth his fellow players) for the first fifteen games... but hey, what are gonna do?

Tonight, Chris came out guns blazing and put up his 54th double-double (good for second in the league behind Superman and tied with Al Jefferson). He finished with 22 points, 12 dimes, 4 rebounds, 1 block (no, seriously), and 2 steals. D.West also showed up to play notching 32 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block. The rest of the squad split the stats pretty even with the only notable oddity being Peja's anemic 2-11 behind the arc. It's un-Peja-like, but to be honest, I'd rather him suck it up against the Clips and show up against the Mavs than the other way around.

One quick observation on the Clippers: Al Thorton is a beast. Holy crap. That guy was all over the floor draining treys, slashing into the lane, making sweet fakes. I swear, every time I looked up, he was finishing up an and-1. Unbelievable. Never mind the fact that he got called for traveling something like three times (all of which would have been dunks if he'd pulled them off). When this guy figures out how to run and dribble, we [read the NBA] are in trouble.

So that was it. After a close first half, the Hornets pulled away and sealed the deal by the end of the third quarter leaving us, the fans, to bask in what an incredible season we've shared with this crew. It was an amazing feeling. 56 wins (and counting). I feel like Irene Cara all over again.

After the game, I had the pleasure of being one of twenty fans to go on the court and participate in a raffle for autographed, game-worn memorabilia. It was one of several give aways the organization did as part of the FANtastic FANale.

I was lucky enough came away with a pair of Reebok Pumps (apparently, they still make them) signed by none other than Mike James. I think they took my picture, too. I was too excited to even notice. I should shook his hand, told him "Congrats and good luck", and that was that.

My feetz is too smallz!

Now then, all of this celebration might be well-deserved, but now is no time to get too caught up in self-congratulation. The true test awaits us, and we still have a lot to prove to this league. Hey, who's excited? Well, me. I am. But hopefully if you're reading this blog, you are too. Expect detailed coverage of the post-season as I have secured my tickets through the Finals (god-willing). Oh yeah, it's game time, baby.


Quick aside. I emailed my main man Chris Broussard today (who, despite that last name, was raised in Ohio). He put out his picks for All-NBA teams and his Coach of the Year votes. The main reason I emailed him was to thank him for showing some love to D.West (even if it was on the third team). However, I quickly transitioned from gratitude to inquiry as I noticed he had penciled in Doc Rivers as his second choice for COY. This pick continues to baffle me, especially since he is one of dozens of writers who feel this way. Doc Rivers' only contributions to the team this year have been coining the team slogan ubuntu (Bantu for something close to "unity"... read more) and relinquishing his duties to coach defense to someone who is a thousand percent more competent at such things than he is (read Tom Thibodeau... who is also remarkably not from Louisiana). So, to recap, all you need to do to get second in the COY voting is have a passive interest in African dialects and have the ability to pass responsibilities to others when you realize that you yourself are incapable handling them. Oh, and you have to have 3 All-Stars land in your lap. Amazing.

Why isn't Mo Cheeks getting more love, you ask? Because apparently getting a crap team that Billy King all but punted into oblivion to the post season (and as a seven seed no less) is a little short of the requirements. I mean, the guy coached a nucleus of Andre Miller, Samuel Dalembert, Andre Iguodala, Reggie Evans, Willie Green, Rodney Carney, and Thaddeus Young to the playoffs. Extrapolate that. That group does not even remotely scream playoffs. Plus, Doc Rivers probably doesn't even know who half of those guys are.

Or what about Jerry Sloan. Under his tenure, he's brought the Jazz into into winning season after winning season... and he's had to put up with thinner air, not to mention Kirilenko's 5 year-old mindset about teamwork and that whole "trying" thing. He has made that group a contender with way less than ever landed on Doc Rivers' plate.

Sorry, rant over. Our very Byron Scott should run away with the award, so it really doesn't matter. I guess I'm just sick of the East Coast media bias and the snubbing of small market teams. But as my buddy Mike says, "Get over it". Thanks, Mike. Thanks.


So, tune into ESPN tomorrow night for our final outing of the regular season (against Dallas). After that, feel free to crack a brew (preferably Abita), bask in a glorious season, shout "CP34MVP!" to at least one stranger on the street, and check back before the postseason starts for my obligatory post containing all of my Top 10s from the regular season.


1 comment:

MikeC said...

Thanks for the credit on the quote, though maybe my tune will change a bit once I move down there. Only for the Hornets, though: when it pertains to the Giants and the Yankees, I happen to benefit from the East Coast media bias. Luckily, I never adopted a basketball team, so I'm not chained to the anchors that are the Knicks and the Nets, and the opportunity to join the Swarm in the Swamp is enticing.

On Chris Paul: there's not really a question in my mind that CP3 deserves the MVP nod. I thought that Simmons' article did a good job of excluding LeBron and Kobe, and his argument in favor of Garnett over CP3 was MOSTLY insane. The only thing I can't shake is a stat I read on ESPN the other day, that stated that on average, opponents guarded by KG score something like 25% less than their average than when guarded by the other MVP candidates. In a league that finds it difficult to truly measure defensive production, that's pretty startling. So why do I still side with CP? Because the complete point guard is becoming a rarity these days. PG's who look for the pass first but can then consistently produce when it isn't there comprise a pretty short list.

Ultimately, if KG gets it, I won't be surprised or irked, but it'll be a shame if it goes to Kobe or LeBron. LeBron will truly earn his another year, and while it's a shame that Kobe has gotten snubbed in recent years, this isn't it. And hey, if KG gets it, at least you'll have more "East Coast bias" to complain about.