THE DUNK HEARD ROUND THE NBA
Sunday night in Dallas, the unthinkable happened. The unimaginable. An atrocious overstep of the lines of decency in the NBA. Oh please! Just stop already.
Sports media and Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle are offended beyond belief at this atrocity of breaking basketball's unwritten rules - don't embarrass an opponent when the game is out of hand. The Mavs Dirk Nowitski said it best when asked if there should be retaliation, "Yeah, in old school ball maybe. But it's 2018 almost."
Exactly. It's 2018 almost. Aren't we past unwritten rules? Sports in 2017 aren't just about competition, they are about entertainment. That was entertainment.
With the Warriors up 25 points on the Dallas Mavericks late in the 4th quarter, rookie Jordan Bell blocked Dwight Powell, ran down the floor, and finished with a slam throwing the ball off the backboard to himself to finish. It was awesome! Its was entertaining in a game that was no longer fun for fans. That play was reason to stick around for the finish. It was worth the price of admission.
Lost in everyone's hysteria at how disgraceful this display of showmanship was, was the fact the play was pretty damn incredible. The athletic ability of Bell to block the shot, run the floor and throw the ball off the backboard, in game, to himself to finish? Isn't that the type of play fans pay to come see to be entertained? Or should NBA players tank plays, demure, and just ride things out, disinterested when they have a big lead. Fans don't want to see that. Unwritten rules? This isn't baseball! Which by the way could use some lightening up on it's own unwritten rules too.
It is about entertainment isn't it? Especially basketball. Especially the NBA. Is that not why fans pay these ridiculous prices for tickets? To see players do incredible athletic feats that most humans could only dream of doing. But no, we wouldn't want to offend Rick Carlisle ... so let's stick it to the fans, to the Warriors, and to a rookie who doesn't see the court a lot - they all have to suffer and see a borefest for the final minutes so the Mavericks, or whoever it may be, don't feel slighted.
How about this as an alternative? Show some pride. Finish the game. Play hard to the end. Isn't that what coaches preach to players incessantly? If you're a rookie or a marginal player you have to fight for minutes to see the floor. The way to do that is to play hard, all the time.
Bell is new to the league, eager to prove what he's capable of, and enjoying himself. I would bet every single fan who left the arena that night was talking about that play. It made staying until the end of the game, and the price of admission, worth it. I get not showing your opponent up. But I also get having fun and enjoying playing the game. And I also get an over exuberant rookie getting his first chance to let loose. Love them or hate them, the Warriors are one of the most fun teams to watch in the league. Plays like that are what makes going to games fun, and keeps fans coming back.
Even LeBron James weighed on in the incident, siding with the rookie:
It's understandable why Rick Carlisle was upset. I accept him being upset. But Carlisle reportedly walked past Steve Kerr and refused to even hear his apology. Grow up. Get over yourself. Was it was a little over the top? Yes. Chalk it up to a rookie mistake. Kerr obviously didn't encourage it. Kerr has a long, well-earned record of being a classy coach. Accept the apology and move on. But no, Carlisle had to hold a grudge.
For Bell, no doubt he got a talking to from Steve Kerr. We likely won't see something like that from the rookie again when the Warriors have a game in hand. So let's leave it at that. A rookie mistake. A fun one for sure. One that did slightly cross the line. But one that was so outside the boundaries, so shocking, that it turned into a pretty fun moment. A moment that can be forgiven, and should be forgiven. Unless of course you're Rick Carlisle, who instead of forgiving the rookie's exuberance, and contrition from Steve Kerr, decided instead, apology not accepted.