Season Ticket Review – Giving some Christmas spirit
Ah, the Christmas Day Game – a Skyforce tradition. What better way to show the Christmas spirit than by playing a friendly game of hoops?
Game 7: December 25th, 2006
Colorado 14ers (6-2) at Sioux Falls Skyforce (8-5)
On second thought, let’s not. Let’s play a rowdy, physical game. Let’s take one of the best teams in the league and dismantle their game plan. Let’s get our starting point guard kicked out. Screw Christmas – let’s pretend like this is New Year’s Eve.
The Colorado 14ers (what kind of name is that?) came into Sunday Night’s game at 6-2, atop the Western Division, while Sioux Falls was sporting an 8-5 record after winning 6 of their last 7 games. Both teams have been playing good basketball. So, naturally, someone had to give.
Thankfully for the nearly 4,700 in attendance, it was the 14ers that gave.
We knew things might be rough when we saw our least favorite NBA D-League referee suited up: the dreaded #32, Jose Calderon, a referee that looks more “high school wrestling coach and subtle Kurt Angle look-alike” than “NBA D-League enforcer.” Calderon has become my least favorite referee over the beginning of this still-young D-League season; primarily for his nasty habit of taking over whatever game he happens to be officiating.
It was under his watchful eye that Frank Williams was kicked out of the game. Williams, who was attempting to clear the lane out from behind the three-point line, swung and elbowed Colorado guard Pooh Jeter in the head. A foul was called – flagrant, yes – and Jeter responded by trying to scuffle with Williams, slapping the ball out of Williams’ hands. Calderon gave a technical foul to Jeter. Then, to throw a whole barrel of exclamation points on the ordeal, he threw Williams out of the game.
Maybe I sound like a Skyforce homer, but the actions did not warrant a locker-room walk for Williams. That doesn’t matter, though. Calderon, as he is wont to do (and has done in previous games), always feels the need to become part of the action – to let everyone in the arena know that, yes, Jose Calderon is officiating tonight, and you’d better pay attention.
A few plays later, Calderon blew his whistle…for no reason. He then restarted play without leveling out any explanation. Maybe he was just letting everyone know he was still on the court. Maybe he’s just an overzealous referee. Regardless, I don’t like him.
The ejection left the crowd fired up. The Skyforce blasted out with a 17-point lead after Frank hit the showers. Of course, anything could have fired up the crowd. From our actual season ticket seats, back in row 21, we were subjected to two groups of people that apparently had been locked in their house for the entirety of the Christmas weekend. Beers were flowing, college-aged kids were chanting, and the entire Arena knew where the party was: right HERE, BABY!
It’s nice to see a large group show up for a Skyforce game, even if that group is three sheets to the wind and a little over-excited. I could have done without the constant chanting during every foul (“Did he do it? Yes he did!”), and I could have done without the off-time DEE-FENSE calls, but overall it lent an air of importance to a game being played on a holiday stage.
It also gave our faithful backup center a chance to shine in front of a big-time crowd. Often-Pouting Joe Dabbert was at his best – pointedly hanging on the rim, elbowing his chair, throwing his warm-up jersey; doing anything, really, to show his frustration an incredibly “cry-baby-esque” sort of way. It was a little embarrassing, actually. I mean, you’d think he would be at a mature enough stage in his life to understand that pouting about your poor play isn’t going to endear yourself to your teammates or your fans.
Dabbert did redeem himself a little in the second half, to be fair, helping to spur a run in the 3rd quarter with two rebounds and a handful of points. The Colorado defense was letting our big men run wild – Jared Reiner had 27 points before fouling out, and Andre Brown had his usual 23 points (and would have had more if not for a poor shooting night). Everyone was allowed an open pass to the basket, it seemed, and even though the 74% free throw shooting wasn’t very promising, we still ended up with eight more points on free throws alone.
Every basketball game is a struggle between give and take. Colorado, for all of their success this year, decided that Christmas Day would be a good time to give. And the Skyforce, filled with Christmas and ready to take a break, was perfectly willing to take as much as they could.
With seven wins in the last eight tries, I’d say the Skyforce are back on track.