The whole reason for playing the game is to enjoy the fruits of your labor, to get the W.
At the end of the day, whether on the mound at Wrigley, on the greens at Augusta, or in this case, the hard court of Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, you are expected to win.
Athletes enjoy many of the finer things in life: the Bentleys, the mansions, the models, and most importantly, the fame. They are expected to perform at the top of their game every night in order to propel their respective franchise to glory and to a championship.
However, sometimes it is truly out of the athlete’s hands, and this is most certainly the case with the Golden State Warriors missing the playoffs.
Golden State, with a 48-33 record, can enjoy the statistic of being the team with the highest record since the expansion to 16 teams in the playoffs, to not make it in.
This truly is a sad day for the people of California, who last year witnessed a David vs. Goliath match up, pitting the Warriors against the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks.
The Warriors eliminated the Mavericks in a first round upset of massive proportions, but this year it was the Phoenix Suns who laid the Warriors to rest, with their best player riding the bench.
After a poor performance in the first half, shooting 2-13 for seven points, Baron Davis was benched.
In an interview with ESPN, Nelson said, "He was having a bad game. He was terrible."
That is understandable, considering the awful shooting percentage Davis put up in the first half. However, Nelson continued by saying, "He was the worst player on the floor, and I told him to take the second half off."
Take the second half off?!
Taking Davis out of the game in the second half is like pulling an oral surgeon out of a wisdom tooth extraction half way through, a monumental lapse in judgment.
The Warriors were only down 14 points going into the locker room at halftime, an amount Davis could have single handedly taken care of.
Following halftime, the Warriors looked like they were shot out of a cannon, going on a 38-19 run, while Davis looked on from the bench.
However, the Warriors couldn't handle the storm led by Nash and company, which wound up leading the Suns to a 122-116 victory in front of an absolutely stunned crowd at the Oracle.
Davis, in an interview with ESPN, said, "I hate losing. I play this game to win, and it's even harder when I feel like I wasn't able to help my team do that."
I hear ya Baron. There is no better word to describe this collapse than ridiculous.
It is absolutely ridiculous that the Warriors' franchise player was on the bench, no less during the second half of a game which was absolutely necessary to win.
Furthermore, it is absolutely ridiculous that Don Nelson would even fathom keeping Davis on the bench during this kind of situation.
Even more disturbing is the fact that neither GM Chris Mullin nor owner Chris Cohan got on the phone demanding that Don Nelson not throw away an entire season by leaving their all star guard on the bench.
This truly is, and should go down, as one of the biggest blunders in professional sports history. Not as monumental as a Red Sox squad coming back from three down against the Yankees in the ALCS, nor as big as the 18-0 Patriots losing the only game that mattered against the New York Giants, but this one surely ranks up there.
However, in those games, there was no one to blame but the players.
The Yankees players lost that series for themselves, just as Brady and Moss let the heat of a powerful Giants defense destroy their hopes at immortality.
But on that fateful night on Apr. 14, Don Nelson lost that game for his team, for the management, and for himself.
I can only hope that Baron Davis realizes the true ignorance of his head coach, and opts out of his contract.
It almost seems like a joke that you would bench your all star out of pride, but that is exactly what Nelson did.
Could you imagine Phil Jackson benching Kobe during the same situation? Could you even fathom Byron Scott making Chris Paul ride the bench in a game that was win or bust?
The Golden State Warriors front office should take a serious look at Don Nelson, and think about whether or not he is the right choice as head coach for this franchise.
On a more serious note, everyone in Oakland should get down on their knees and pray that Baron Davis doesn't leave this franchise, because I can think of 10 teams that would kill to have his raw talent.
If it comes down to having to choose between Nelson and Davis, the answer is crystal clear.
Don Nelson single handedly lost the Warriors a chance to make a run in the playoffs, and now he will be watching the games at home.
Hopefully the Warriors franchise will make sure he's watching the entire 2008-2009 season at his home as well.