The 8 Dumbest Controversies in the 2012 NBA Playoffs
We can't get through an entire NBA postseason without having some sort of controversy, right?
It seems to always happen in basketball, more times than any other sport. There are so many storylines developing from seemingly every team that you have to find at least one or two instances of something worth talking about.
Commissioner David Stern certainly added some fuel to that fire on Wednesday with some questionable comments to Jim Rome. Outside of him, we've also had some quotables from a certain Los Angeles Lakers' center, a press conference debacle and even some beverage being thrown upon the head of an NBA player by a disgruntled fan.
However, the purpose of this article isn't to blow up these controversies anymore than they already were, but rather to tone them down and look at them without jumping to immediate conclusions. The problem with a few of these controversies are the fact that they come as a result of people jumping to conclusions just to get a story out of it.
We'll explore eight of these controversies that have taken place during the postseason, and I'll describe just why they're not really worth talking about it as much as some would like.
David Stern vs Jim Rome
As much as everyone despises David Stern, it's a lot easier to despise Jim Rome.
Before there was Skip Bayless plaguing your airwaves with opinions that didn't make much sense, Jim Rome was there leading the charge. Misconstrued arguments, controversial topics and ridiculing professional athletes became Rome's game as he grew so big on ESPN that he managed to get his own show.
During an interview with NBA commissioner David Stern this past Wednesday, Jim Rome decided to ask whether or not the draft lottery was rigged. He does raise a valid point; the lottery has become more secretive, and seeing the New Orleans Hornets, a team that was owned by the league last year, obtain the number one pick is causing the conspiracy theorists to wreak havoc in their mother's basements.
Rome asked the question and was met with Stern replying, "Have you stopped beating your wife, yet?"
Wow. Where did that come from? I immediately went to search instances of Jim Rome and any domestic abuse in his past, but I came across nothing. It took me a little more research to finally understand why exactly Stern would bring up something like that. No, it's not because he's evil, either.
Stern didn't actually ask if Rome was beating his wife, it was a loaded question used in response to Rome's loaded question of whether or not the draft lottery is fixed.
So no, Jim Rome doesn't beat his wife, and the draft lottery isn't fixed as far as we know.
Now, can we go back to calling David Stern the worst commissioner in sports for reasons other than this interview?
Game 1 Featuring the Heat vs Knicks Was Rigged!
This is where the whole officiating flack started.
In Game 1 of a first round matchup between the New York Knicks and Miami Heat, many feel that the Knicks were cheated on account of several questionable calls made during the second quarter. LeBron James was flopping all over the court and the officials kept falling for it. The greatest piece of evidence for the officiating bias was Tyson Chandler getting whistled for a flagrant-1 after setting a hard screen on James, who immediately went down to the floor.
While many say James flopped, you would think it'd be easier to say that a 7', 250 pound center with his chest out will level any player that's not looking in front of them. However, it's become easier to just blame the officiating and hate LeBron James, so the masses decided to go with blaming everyone but the Knicks for the final result.
Following the flagrant, James would single-handedly lead a 9-0 run into the break to give the Heat a 55-31 lead.
In the end, the Knicks were called for 26 personal fouls to the Heat's 17. Miami also held a 33-11 edge in free throws.
Miami would go on to win 100-67. A 33-point win that was decided by the officiating? I could understand blaming the officiating in a game that was decided by five points or less in the Heat's favor, but a 33-point victory? That's a little excessive, don't you think?
Even if the Heat don't make one of their 21 free throws, they still end up winning. Like I've said before, maybe we should blame the shortcomings of a team instead of taking the easy way out and just blaming the league.
Andrew Bynum Thinks Closeout Games Are Easy
Remember when Tracy McGrady said this?
Well the Los Angeles Lakers Andrew Bynum nearly made him look not as foolish when he said this line before heading into a Game 5 against the Denver Nuggets:
"Closeout games are actually kind of easy. Teams tend to fold if you come out and play hard."
His Lakers were up 3-1 and at home for Game 6, which meant that they were a win at the Staples Center away from advancing to the Semifinals.
Those plans were derailed by way of a surprising three-point loss. It only got worse when the Nuggets put a beating on the Lakers in Game 6 with a 113-96 victory. From 3-1 to 3-3 in the span of three days, the Lakers center could soon be eating his words if his Lakers failed to close out the series a third time back at the Staples Center.
To make matters worse, a majority of the blame was falling on the shoulders of Bynum and Pau Gasol, who were failing to take advantage of their size and talent against the Nuggets frontcourt.
Despite shooting 4-of-15 in the decisive Game 7, Bynum's Lakers would pull out a 96-87 victory to avoid one of the biggest letdown's in NBA history.
It turns out that closeout games were easy for the Oklahoma City Thunder, as they would only need one game to advance after going up 3-1 against the Lakers in the next round.
What's the moral of the story, kids? Don't listen to Andrew Bynum because he says stuff like this all the time.
Tom Thibodeau Is the Reason for Derrick Rose's Torn ACL
After a prolific 2010-'11 season where he would become the NBA's youngest ever MVP while also leading his team to the league's top record, Derrick Rose simply couldn't get on track for the 2011-'12 campaign.
Knee, groin and back problems would plague him the entire season, and he would only be featured in 39 out of the 66 regular season games. In the time he played, Rose managed to average 22 points per on 44 percent shooting, eight assists, three rebounds and a little less than a steal per. He still had it in him, but the injuries obviously kept him out of a rhythm.
Even without Rose, the Bulls still found a way to obtain the Eastern Conference's number one seed over the Miami Heat. Thanks in part to unexpected contributions from the likes of C.J. Watson and John Lucas III, the Bulls were able to prove resilient to fight through Rose's injury. In return, they'd earn a date with the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round.
To make it even better, Rose sat out a large majority of the final month of the regular season in order to get healthier for the postseason haul.
Game 1 was going exactly how the Bulls anticipated. They were up by double-digits, and Rose appeared to be himself after chipping in 23 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, while hitting 3-of-6 from beyond the arc.
However, in the final minutes, Rose fell awkwardly and couldn't get up. He was later diagnosed with a Torn ACL, an injury that is said will keep him out for the next eight to 12 months. That essentially means the 2012-'13 season could be a forgetful one too, with the idea that Rose may not coming back until next year's postseason.
Immediately, the blame started to fall on Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, who was criticized for keeping Rose in the game for too long when it was already decided.
While 37 minutes may seem a little drastic for a player fresh off an injury, the Bulls are obviously going to do their homework on their franchise player to make sure he's perfectly fine. The Torn ACL was a freak accident that didn't happen because Rose was in the game for too long; it happened simply because he landed on his leg wrong.
Injuries happen. As hard as Thibodeau pushes his team, he is going to know better than anyone else how long his team's star player should play before taking him out of a playoff game where anything could happen.
Dwyane Wade's 'fight with Erik Spoelstra
These reports on "altercations" between star players on the Miami Heat and coach Erik Spoelstra are getting a little old, don't you think?
Remember 'bumpgate'? It was that extremely exaggerated incident where LeBron James appeared to bump Spoelstra while heading into a timeout. The media immediately jumped to the conclusion that James must be sending a message to Spoelstra because of the team's slow start their poor playing in that particular game.
The friction between James and Spoelstra was so devastating for the rest of the season that the Heat could only muster an NBA Finals appearance out of it.
Well, it happened again. During the Heat's Game 3 blowout loss to the Indiana Pacers, tempers appeared to be running high when a visibly frustrated Dwyane Wade blew up on Erik Spoelstra. Wade walked away and was consoled by team captain Udonis Haslem, LeBron James and Juwan Howard, but only before Dwyane scored five points for the entire time.
Spoelstra was fired for about the tenth time since the "Big Three" was put together. Since the Heat organization has their senses, however, they kept him around because they know that this is a problem that must be worked out on the court. Just because you fire your coach doesn't mean everything is going to automatically start working.
The Heat went down 2-1 after that game, but proceeded to win the next three games. Dwyane Wade received some treatment on a nagging knee injury and would end up scoring 41 points in the clinching Game 6 victory.
Because of the two's argument, the Heat only managed another Finals appearance out of it.
LBJ and D-Wade Didn't Go to Their Post-Game Press Conference!
Following the Miami Heat's Game 5 loss to the Boston Celtics to go down 3-2 in the series, the talk immediately shifted to what the Heat are going to do after this season.
You know? Because the season is over, right? 3-2 series lead is a death sentence for every playoff team, besides the plethora of teams that have come back from that deficit.
Once again, we were subject to putting LeBron James and Dwyane Wade under a microscope after a disappointing home loss. It was the same old story; James and Wade can't play together, Spoelstra shouldn't be the coach, Bosh is soft, etc. We've heard it all before; we don't really need to hear it again.
However, there was also this other talk about a postgame press conference that I kept hearing. I attempted to shoo it away like an annoying mosquito buzzing near my eye, but it eventually irked me so much that I had to find out what exactly the problem was.
The problem was that Wade and James didn't go to the press conference. It was the second consecutive time they didn't go after a loss. This was news. Excuse me, this has become news because of our overreaction to everything the Miami Heat do, so naturally we keep these two under a microscope and make quick judgments on everything they do.
Why would they go out to the press conference anyway? To hear the same questions they're asked after every loss? To talk about the gloom and doom that is the Miami Heat franchise and how they can't do anything right? These two really can't do anything right without some hysteria from the critics that can't seem to take their eyes off them.
Following the missed press conference, the Heat would go on to win Games 6 and 7 to clinch the series.
Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo left the court after Game 7 without shaking any Heat players' hands, and Garnett didn't do a press conference following the loss, either.
I'm waiting for my story, ESPN.
Boston Celtic Fans Are Mad?
Why are most of these slides concerning the Miami Heat? Because apparently everything they do is controversial.
A few fouls in their favor? That's a controversy. An altercation between a player and a coach? That's a controversy. Not going to their press conference? Oh, you better believe that's a controversy.
This time around, however, we'll be speaking of the Miami Heat in a positive light.
Game 6 featuring the Heat and Boston Celtics was a game that will be remembered for years to come. The Heat would end up winning 98-79 to stretch the series to seven games, but the real story fell on LeBron James, who ended up with 45 points, 15 rebounds and five assists.
It was arguably one of the greatest playoff performances we've ever seen, and it was the first time we've seen a statline like that since Wilt Chamberlain did the same in 1964.
As a response from the Celtics faithful, they cheered for "Let's go Celtics" for nearly the five minutes of the game. Even though everybody claims it's admirable, many fail to acknowledge that nearly half the arena cleared out halfway through the fourth quarter once the Heat hit a 25-point lead. Still, it was nice to see the actual Celtics faithful stay and support their team.
They had my kind regards, until the end of the game. When James was walking into the tunnel, one of those classy Boston fans decided to throw some of his beverage upon the head of the man who had just ripped the leprechaun off from the center of the floor and replaced it with his face.
James took notice and kept walking.
Why do I say this a dumb controversial moment? Because it shouldn't be new knowledge to everyone that fans in the Northeast aren't always the classiest. While I'm not going to generalize every single Celtics/Bruins/Patriots/Red Sox fans here, I will say that there are a certain few who take this sports thing a little too far.
As a Heat fan myself, I know all about having embarrassing fans as your comrades in battle. It's tough to defend the integrity of your team when there are other fans who can't spell Dwyane's name correctly.
I'll just leave this here for evidence.
The Officials Blow Game 6 of Atlanta vs Boston, but the Hawks Blow It Themselves
The officiating has been absolutely dreadful this NBA postseason.
It's really taken a lot out of the game and has left many contests without any rhythm to it because of the calls or non-calls being made. Some games are called too close while others can't seem to make a call based on any contact. It's not a conspiracy against certain teams, it's just bad officiating this time around.
Game 6 between the Celtics and Hawks may have featured the worst missed call in the entire postseason, and that includes all the technical fouls that have been given out for instances as simple as staring at an opposing bench.
With the Celtics up by two and the Hawks inbounding with less than five seconds remaining, Marquis Daniels fouled Al Horford before the ball was passed in. This should automatically result in not only two free throws, but the possession as well. Instead, referees took another look at the play and decided that the ball was already passed in, even though replays show it clearly wasn't.
That's where the story stops because the Hawks would end up losing 83-80. Nobody is saying that it wasn't a terrible call because it absolutely was, but nobody mentions what happens directly after the missed call.
Al Horford was fouled and received two free throws that could have tied the game and possibly sent it into overtime. Going into overtime with an aged Boston Celtics team could have easily meant a victory for the Hawks, but it never came about because Horford missed 1-of-2 to preserve the loss.
A horrible call, yes, but the Hawks still had a sliver of chance for redemption.