From the moment Ron Ron and Paul Pierce got into their reverse embrace, I knew the NBA Finals had finally arrived. A little jostlin’ and a little jawin’ never hurt anybody, and besides, it was the god damn Finals for Larry O’ Brien’s sake.
Pierce and Artest had been going at it for years, back when Indiana was more than just Travis Diener and Antoine Walker had enough money to buy a Big Mac.
But then the whistle grew into Big Brother. A double technical was called, within a minute of game play.
Only in this new PG-rated NBA.
The Zebras had adopted fear as their means of coping with the grand stage of the Staples Center, and sought to take control of the game.
And take control of the game they did. Joey Crawford and his convoy whistled 17 stops during the first quarter, and 54 for the entire game.
Seventeen fouls in the first fucking quarter?!?
Fifty-four over the course of four quarters?!
What the hell happened?
The stage then developed a perplexing aura—something became different about Game 1. The Lakers came out to “Baba O’ Riley” by Petey Townsend and crew … uh, what the hell?
OK, whatever, but whodathunk that the rest of the contest would produce such odd sensations?
The first quarter became an all-out snoozer, with virtually no transition offense from both sides. Ray Allen and Derek Fisher picked up two quick fouls each like they were playing the hack-a-Shaq and were selected as the human sacrifices. Except the Big Cactus was nowhere to be found.
Instead, the inaugural 12 minutes resembled a trip to the dog park—whistles left and right. The quarter closed with a score of 21-26 in favor of the West Coast, but I couldn’t even remember anything interesting other than the fouls, fouls, fouls, fouls, and fouls.
The weird environment continued—Rajon Rondo and Nate Robinson were squared off against Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar at one point, for a total of four point guards on the floor during the second quarter.
Rondo’s usually effortless flicking layups were blocked left and right; Garnett was fumbling passes and attacking the rim soft like he was Keith Van Horn; there was virtually no yapping between both sides—did the two teams forget that they were the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers?
And when did Nate Robinson become the vocal leader for the green team?
Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy then started talking about Scrabble. It’s weird watching a game and listening to the former New York heads quibble back and forth while Mike Breen tries to restore some kind of order for us viewers.
They reminded me of hanging out with a friend when suddenly they see a friend from high school and start talking about the good ol’ years—and you have no idea what they are talking about because you didn’t go to their high school.
In other words, rather than Marv and Doug Collins breaking down keys to the game, we get stuck with Action Jackson and Stan’s brother inside-joking each other and occasionally saying something interesting (and I am definitely not talking about “mama there goes that man”).
Boston eventually forged a meek comeback, but the Lake Show proved too poised to crumble and have their mountain collapse.
There was no intensity from both sides, it looked like characters in a play rehearsing for the 100th straight time and having no more emotion or energy. Garnett was missing layup after layup and jumping too early for rebounds.
Rondo didn’t get to dazzle in transition because of the stop-and-go style dictated by the refs. Ray Allen spent the majority of the game scowling on the bench and fixing his arm-warming band.
It wasn’t fun or enjoyable to watch at all. Game 1 was a disaster.
Maybe it was everything but the game. Maybe it was the Nike commercial that had Magic Johnson in it. Maybe it was the WackArnolds bit with Dwight and LeBron reenacting the game of H-O-R-S-E between Jordan and Bird.
Or maybe it was Black Sheep’s “This or That” being used for an ad about gangster hamsters driving around.
Whatever the case, something was different. It didn’t feel like the Finals. It felt like a regular season game between the Nets and the T-Wolves.
Although, there were a couple things that felt right. ‘Sheed got his technical, like ‘Sheed does. Jack Nicholson wore his sunglasses indoor, like Jack does. And Kobe Bryant played like Michael Jordan, like Kobe Bryant does.
Yeah, I said it.
Maybe the best part was Mamba rattling in that 3-pointer in the last minute to strangle Boston.
In any case, if Game 2 (or the rest of the series, for that matter) echoes the stuff that I watched in Game 1 then I can’t wait for the WNBA to start. At least Diana Taurasi is always fun to watch.
Oh wait, it started already?
The Celtics “played like a bunch of sissies.”
Please KG, even though I think you’re annoying, bring back that “anything is possible” intensity and make this a god damn series.
Oh, and get Marv Albert to call the games.