NBA Finals: Are The Stars Getting Soft?
By Ronald Agers
Jun 8, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) lays on the court injured while attended to by guard Danny Green (4) in the second half against the Miami Heat in game two of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Boy this NBA Finals has been one to remember hasn’t it? All of these subplots and we haven’t even made it to Miami yet. Last night the Miami Heat stole a game from the San Antonio Spurs winning 98-96 behind the redemption of LeBron James scoring 35 points and grabbing ten rebounds. One side story I’ve noticed is the “injuries” of the two star players for each team which has happened almost at the same time in the 4th quarter of both games one and two that affected the outcome of both games. LeBron James and Tony Parker both had issues around the seven minute mark that effectively took the wind out of them and their respective teams respectively.
The first game featured the now infamous cramps that LeBron James caught that effectively ended his night. He spent crunch time on the bench watching the Spurs hit 14 of 16 shots which included six shots from the land of the extra point. Afterwards everyone had their opinions from the arena being too hot from the AC going down to lack of Gatorade. “Cramp Gate” was definitely in effect and everyone spent two days leading up to Game two talking about how James should have finished the game. His absence led to the Miami Heat losing 110-95.
The second game seems to feature the single most electrifying elbow in NBA Finals history. Mario Chalmers who was getting tuned up quite nicely by Tony Parker placed a very effective chicken wing into the rib cage of Tony knocking him to the floor. Parker stayed on the floor for a few minutes looking like he had just got shot. When Parker came to, he walked to the free throw line and missed both free throws. After that Tim Duncan missed two free throws. Couple all of that with LeBron going insane going on a nice scoring binge and the wind went out of the sails of the Spurs offense and San Antonio lost.
After watching these two scenarios, it got me to thinking…Have the new age NBA player gotten soft? Yes, the rules have changed like the hand checking rules to stop all of the overly physical play. But I think it’s bigger than that. This might be a heart issue. Let’s take a look back at some playoff moments where players had to play with extreme heart to play through pain…
1) New York vs. Detroit Pistons: Bernard King goes NUTS!
April 27, 1984. Man that was a great day for America. It was my 11th birthday. The New York Knicks went into Detroit to play Game five of the First Round at Joe Louis Arena because the Pontiac Silverdome was unavailable. Everyone is complaining about Thursday being hot. You wanna talk about 120 degrees? Now that’s hot. Bernard King went into the game battling the Flu and having BOTH middle fingers dislocated. In overtime the Knicks outlasted Detroit 127-123 after Bernard King scored 44 points. Oh by the way Isiah Thomas scoring 16 points in the last 93 seconds to force overtime after having a subpar game up until that point.
1A) Kareem Abdul Jabbar was mentioned on record that people needed to stop complaining. He has the right because Game 5 of the NBA Finals that same year between his Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics reached temperatures as high as 100 degrees because the Boston Garden lacked air-conditioning plus the NBA Finals is in June so you know it was hot in Boston at the time. It is known as the “Heat Game”. (No pun here)
I’m not even going to go into the rumors that the Celtics would heat up the opponent’s locker room leading up to games.
Just for the ones that believe that Jabbar is just a bitter dude that is out of touch, just listen. Kareem used suffer from migraine headaches. Now anyone that has had a migraine headache knows how painful that is.
Well back in 1977, Kareem scored 40 points grabbed 19 rebounds and blocked nine shots to lead the Los Angeles Lakers over the Golden State Warriors in a playoff game. I bet Clifford Ray had the headaches after that game.
1B) As for Tony Parker needing some gravy to go with chicken wing he got from Mario Chalmers. Back in 1984 in the NBA Finals, the Lakers were killing the Boston Celtics. Larry Bird called his team out saying they were playing like a bunch of women. Well Kevin McHale went out in Game four and clotheslined Kurt Rambis. That was the turn of the series and the Celtics won in seven games. Oh by the way, Kurt got up ready to fight. He didn’t stay down during the commercial break.
2) Isiah Thomas plays on a sprained ankle in the 1988 NBA Finals Game six.
The story tells it all…
The Detroit Pistons were in Los Angeles down 56-48 when Isiah Thomas went off for 14 straight points. Then he steps on Michael Cooper’s foot and sprained an ankle.
Pay attention here…Thomas returns 35 seconds later and kept killing the Lakers. By the end of the third quarter Thomas dropped 25 points on 11-13 shooting setting a record for the NBA Finals that STILL STANDS to this day. Plus he gave the Pistons the lead 81-79 by the end of the quarter.
The Pistons ended up losing 103-102 on a phantom foul call, but that’s not the story. Isiah Thomas had 43 points, eight assists and six steals. He also had…
A jammed left pinkie.
A poked eye.
A scratched up face.
Plus that fat ankle he hobbled on from the third quarter on.
After that night Isiah Thomas had more street cred than 50 cent who was shot nine times.
3) Scottie Pippen played the deciding Game six of the NBA Finals with back spasms.
Sure we all remember the Jordan FLU game. We all remember Scottie Pippen carrying him off the floor back in 1997. What people don’t remember is the last game of the Bulls dynasty in 1998 when Scottie Pippen played with severe back spasms. He was on and off the court in the locker room getting treatment be cause he thought his presence would mean more than sitting in the locker room.
What I’m saying is this. Before everyone starts belly aching about how things are with the hot arenas and injuries. Take a look back. There are players that overcame real obstacles…and still played.