A season down the drain

And just like that, the season’s over.

Well, it’s over for those of us that enjoy the “new style” of NBA basketball – the style that gave us the best and second-best record in the league, the #1 and #2 MVP candidate and the best underdog/upset story in NBA history. Apparently, it didn’t hold up. Apparently, that fast style is worthless in playoff basketball. It’s too soft. It’s too finesse. It’s destined to be ripped apart, exploited and bullied, pushed around and fired from its job, driven to drink in its old age and forgotten about all together as another generation of Knick/Heat-esque teams push their way into the Finals on the principle of brute force and reputation.

We’ve seen through these playoffs that conniving and wily planning can end up both physically and physiologically at odds with the run and gun style of play. The same style of play that the Phoenix Suns – once Final hopefuls, now sent home in the second round again – had perfected. For those of us watching at home – and I’d bet if you’re not a Spurs fan to begin with, you were rooting for the Suns in this contest – we’ve lost a fun and exciting method of basketball.

It’s gone from this year. Does anyone expect either the Bulls or the Cavs to beat the Pistons? Does anyone think Utah has a chance against the Spurs? Do either of these match-ups matter to anyone outside of their respective cities? Can anyone expect a rip-roarin’ fancy-pants series like Mavs-Suns or Suns-Warriors? With the teams we see in front of us it all seems awfully familiar. Too familiar. Like, 2005 familiar

Last year was a break from the usual. The Mavs – a finesse team – somehow overcame the Spurs. The Heat – a veteran team with a fresh, young leader – overcame the Pistons. A rematch of the 2005 Finals was denied. Now? We’re getting it a year later. It smells a little stale.

It was a forgettable regular season for the NBA. We all looked forward to some great basketball – some exciting fast paced basketball, dependant upon true basketball skill and style. Now, we find ourselves staring down the barrel of another late 90s style brawl, a clunky brand of basketball now perfected by the Spurs, a run-em-down blah-fest led by players that are simply too good to overcome.

As much as I can bitch about the dirty play of the Spurs, I have to offer a little respect. They couldn’t out finesse the Suns. No one could. But they could bully their way into the Western Conference Championships like no other, using a combination of veteran guile and uncaring precision, striking when the Suns were at their weakest and taking advantage of a league that has always awarded physical play over high-tempo craftsmanship.

In the meantime, I’ll be focusing my attention elsewhere. Anywhere. I can’t watch this team again. It’s gotten a little old.

Ladies and Gentleman. It looked like anyone could win the title this year. But now, I present to you your 2006-2007 NBA Champions. The San Antonio Spurs.

Trust me. They’ll do whatever it takes to bludgeon their way like a running bull to the title.

I hope I’m wrong. I really do.

This was lovingly handwritten on May 19th, 2007