Archive for Thursday, May 22, 2008

Third Degree Bern

May 22, 2008

Sure, they're good. But does anyone really want to see the San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals again?

For the casual fan, this match-up is an absolute nightmare, but with both teams still alive and playing well it's more than possible.

Neither the Spurs nor the Pistons have anything new to offer the NBA or its fans. While several teams made blockbuster trades this season, including the other finals hopefuls in Los Angeles and Boston, San Antonio and Detroit left their rosters untouched.

That plan worked in getting them as far as the conference finals, but it also guaranteed that neither team would do anything exciting on the court this year. It's not that the pair is predictable, more that each offers an incredibly bland style of basketball.

For me, the problem isn't that they keep winning. I enjoyed watching both the Patriots and USC Trojans dominate their respective levels of football over the past years.

The difference is that both of those teams were, and still are, exciting to watch. Anything could happen, which is simply not the case in this situation.

Tim Duncan will always take the ball one-on-one in the paint and throw the flattest hook shot you've ever seen before begging for a foul. Likewise, Detroit's Rasheed Wallace runs up and down the court with the speed of a tortoise and feels entitled to a foul call after every misguided jump shot.

Detroit is in its fifth-straight conference finals while San Antonio is going after its fourth title in six years. With success like that it's not surprising that each team has developed plenty of hatred from the general NBA public.

The Pistons don't have the same bad boy image as they did with Isiah Thomas at point guard in the '80s and early '90s, but there is a general disdain against them because not one of the players has an exciting personality.

The Spurs are even worse. On most nights, win or lose, Duncan looks like he belongs in a morgue more than a basketball arena and NBA sixth man of the year Manu Ginobili flops around more than a fish just yanked out of a stream.

Basically, I've just had enough of these two teams and their played out stories, and judging by the TV ratings, so has America.

San Antonio's sweep over LeBron James and his not-ready-for-primetime players in last season's final garnered a 6.2 Nielsen rating, the lowest ever for an NBA championship series. The Spurs '03 title over the Nets wasn't much better, pulling in a then worst 6.5.

In fact, over the past five years either the Pistons, Spurs or both have been in the finals four times, and the average rating is just 8.1. That's less than half of the viewers who watched the Bulls' finals in the '90s.

Whether you like them or not, the Lakers and Celtics are exciting to watch, and each has more to prove than their opponents. They each made humongous trades that altered franchise history, and the Celtics are trying to reach the finals for the first time in 21 seasons.

David Stern has feared a Pistons-Spurs final all season, because with it he'll be forced to ask a question to which he already knows the answer.

Will anyone care?

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