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Warriors / Drama, elevation, a posterization, terrible officiating

The War­riors play­off ride is over, the Jazz's ride will come to an end some­time in the next week or so, but Baron's dunk over Kir­ilenko will live on FOREVER. Let's just sit back and appre­ci­ate it for a minute. (It's much bet­ter live).

the rise-upBaron ele­vates and ele­vates; he begins his leap before Kir­ilenko and is still going up as Kir­ilenko descends. Mind-bend­ing. To his cred­it, Kir­ilenko said after the game that it was an awe­some dunk and that "at least I got to be on the poster." Also to Kirilenko's cred­it, he didn't foul Baron; if any­thing, it was an offen­sive foul. More on the stu­pid NBA offi­ci­at­ing lat­er.

 

stomach shotAs impres­sive as the dunk itself was Baron's stom­ach flash after he land­ed. Not real­ly sure where this came from. The ele­men­tary school play­ground? An And1 mix­tape? Wher­ev­er it came from, it was a stroke of genius in that par­tic­u­lar set­ting — Fri­day night, Oak­land Col­i­se­um, West­ern Con­fer­ence Semi-final blowout. You could prac­ti­cal­ly feel the Bay Area ele­vate that moment.

 

the dust-offAgain, haven't seen this before, out­side of a play­ground game in the Pan­han­dle, but Stephen Jack­son appeared to be dust­ing some­thing off Baron's shoul­ders. The remains of the rim? Some mag­ic dust from David Blaine?

Inci­den­tal­ly, the best pic­ture of all was not tak­en off my TV, but by an AP pho­tog­ra­ph­er from the oth­er end of the court. It cap­tures Baron as he descends from the dunk.

I really did believe

Like every­one in the NBA uni­verse has already said, the War­riors were huge­ly fun to watch this post-sea­son, and it was sad to see them go. It would have been nice to see more scrap­py, inspired Matt Barnes moments; more Stephen Jack­son dag­gers; more Baron Davis PERIOD. I've always liked Baron, but this post-sea­son he had it all work­ing: his fast-break vision, his high-arc­ing three-point bombs, his cross-over, his abil­i­ty to get in the lane and dish out to open shoot­ers. (More of Baron's finest career moments on YouTube.) It was nice to see Mon­ta get his game back in games 4 and 5, and Biedrins had some real­ly strong moments, by which I mean some ridicu­lous dunks and a few improb­a­ble free throw con­ver­sions.

Yes, the Jazz deserved it

At the same time, I admired Utah by the end of the series. Jer­ry Sloan is an ass­hole, but he proved in this series that he is an ass­hole who knows what to do with tal­ent­ed play­ers. The 3‑D guard play (Deron Williams, Dee Brown and Derek Fish­er) was unex­pect­ed­ly sol­id and impres­sive. Memo and Booz­er were Sports­Cen­ter fix­tures through­out the sea­son, but I was sur­prised at how eas­i­ly Memo was tak­en out of his game by the quick­er War­riors. I was sim­i­lar­ly amazed at how great Booz­er has become. The guy rose to the occa­sion, took lots of big shots, fre­quent­ly changed the momen­tum of the game and was by any mea­sure a badass among badass­es. To say those things about a for­mer Duke play­er requires a lot of pride-swal­low­ing on my part.In con­trast to the uneven, streaky War­riors, every Jazz play­er was tena­cious and grit­ty while exhibit­ing a pro­fes­sion­al­ism and char­ac­ter that has been miss­ing from the West­ern Con­fer­ence play­offs this year. Why are so many play­ers, espe­cial­ly War­riors, con­tin­u­al­ly try­ing to draw charges? Play defense. Draw the charge when it comes to you, but don't try to sub­sti­tute actu­al defense with step­ping in front of a play­er as they go to the bas­ket. Stephen Jack­son! Dude! You were huge in the Dal­las series, but against Utah you took your­self out of the game by try­ing to take charges and then get­ting pissed that the refs didn't call them! You know this: the refs are not going to give you those calls when the only thing you're doing is try­ing to draw them. Same goes for Barnes and Har­ring­ton. UPDATE: Hen­ry Abbott of True­Hoop has some thoughts on this very sub­ject:

There are a lot of fouls called on play­ers defend­ing against the dri­ve. What occurs to me more and more is that it's smart to do the whole "draw the charge" flop onto the butt, and only in part because you might draw the charge. A big­ger rea­son is that if your hands are up, and you're jump­ing, and there's con­tact, you have NO chance of get­ting the call, and it's like­ly a foul on you.

An inter­est­ing point; per­haps it's all part of an effort to enable slash­ing and to com­pli­cate phys­i­cal defen­sive play. On the oth­er hand, super­stars seem to get calls even if the defense seems to be legit. Baron obvi­ous­ly drew a lot of charges and hacks, which I think is evi­dence of a huger prob­lem: THE F%@$$%$ING CONSPIRATORIAL OFFICIATING.

What the f%$#@%$?

It real­ly seems like the ref­er­ees go into each game with an agen­da. Like, the Jazz got every call in game one. Why? Did they want to even things up from the pre­vi­ous series when it seemed like there were some quick whis­tles on Josh Howard? The lop­sid­ed­ness of the calls make you won­der things like that. I mean, even Stephen Jack­son had some legit beefs that night! Then in Game 5, Baron got pret­ty much every call. He lit­er­al­ly ran over Deron Williams a cou­ple of times, no whis­tles. When Williams would so much as touch him, whis­tle. Did the NBA want to pro­long the series? Did they want to give Baron the super­star foul exemp­tion? UPDATE: And don't even get me start­ed on the role of the NBA front office in all this. If the sus­pen­sions of Diaw and Stoudemire end up cost­ing the Suns the series, I'm going to … protest. Some­how. How can the NBA be so bad at inter­pret­ing their own rules? Every sport in the world func­tions effec­tive­ly by imple­ment­ing the spir­it of its rules, not the let­ter. Why go by the let­ter in this case? Stoudemire and Diaw didn't esca­late any­thing; they didn't incite fur­ther may­hem; what gives?In spite of it all, great play­ers make great play­offs. Thanks War­riors, and go Suns.