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franklin county times

NBA season unbearable to watch

By By Tony Krausz/assistant sports editor
June 12, 2004
The one good thing about Game 4 of the NBA Finals coming up on Sunday is that we move just one game closer to the end of this basketball season.
The NBA has never been less fun to watch than this year, and the playoffs have only made it worse.
Despite nearly every television talking head's attempt to sell the Detroit Pistons' defense, Game 3 on Thursday was just a bad game to watch.
Detroit's defense is good heck, it's probably the best in the league today but Los Angeles' inept offense was the story of the game.
The Lakers needed a miracle shot from Kobe Bryant plus a dopey foul on Shaquille O'Neal that turned into a three-point play to escape with an overtime win in the second game of the championship series.
Los Angeles responded to this potentially tide-turning victory by sleepwalking through Thursday's game, putting up a franchise-low 68 points.
Of course, the Pistons' points total of 88 wasn't much better.
The simple fact of the matter is that neither team could hit water if the players were hoisting up shots from the deck of a Carnival cruise liner in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Los Angeles shot 36.5 percent from the floor, and Detroit was barely better at 40.8 percent.
Bryant, the falsely-unidentified second coming of Michael Jordan, didn't hit a single field goal in the first half, and O'Neal, who is not being double teamed, scored just 14 points.
Ben Wallace is a great defender. It's the only reason he is in the league. But there is no way he should be able to hold O'Neal under 20 points for the first time in the Lakers center's playoff career.
The two biggest stars in basketball are supposed to show up for the big game, and contrary to the Lakers' way of thinking, every game in the finals is a big game. You're playing for a championship wake up!
Los Angeles' "blah" attitude appears to be coming from the team's coach, Phil Jackson.
The "Zen master of coaching" looks about as interested in the games this year as the older brother who was roped into coaching third base for his kid brother's little league team.
But Thursday's game was just a microcosm of how bad things have gotten in the NBA.
Detroit made its way to the Finals by playing in the all-time least-watchable playoff series.
The Pistons knocked off the Indiana Pacers in six games, winning the final game 69-65. That's not an NBA score. That's the last four digits to a phone number.
A team shouldn't be allowed to win a game if it scores just 69 points in the NBA. The Pistons and Pacers should have been forced to play a second game immediately after Games 6.
Call it Game 6-A, and the teams should have been told to actually try and score or the Lakers will automatically be crowned champs.
We should have seen that horrible final coming in the Eastern Conference. Indiana only scored 65 points in the fifth game of the series, and the two teams combined for only 139 combined points in the second game.
The Lakers' series in the Western Conference finals against the Minnesota Timberwolves was just slightly more interesting than watching paint dry.
The point totals were higher than in the East, but with the T-wolves' Sam Cassell watching most of the series from the sideline, a Lakers' win was pretty much a forgone conclusion.
Again, though, we should have seen all of this coming.
The NBA started on the worst possible note with Bryant's situation in Colorado, and the once-most marketable star's trial has hung over the league's head like a black cloud all season.
Then, two of the NBA's more enjoyable players to watch, Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady, were on what turned out to be two of the worst teams in the history of basketball.
Right from the start the 2004 season, the NBA was hard to watch. And with the two months-plus of playoffs with games played at such a helter-skelter schedule, it just got worse.
All of the NBA players not going to Athens, Greece, for the Olympics, along with NBA commissioner David Stern, should be forced to tour the country and apologize for this season and promise to do better next year to anyone who endured watching a single game.

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