It’s hard to speak in favor of violence without coming out as a complete villain or douche, but it’s hard to argue about the fact that people love seeing athletes go at each other. Udonis Haslem hit Tyler Hansbrough instead of blocking him for what the Pacers Forward did to Dwyane Wade earlier on. Retaliation, in the right kind of limits, isn’t something to be frowned upon.
Just like hitting players with balls in Baseball. Pitchers still do it despite the knowledge of the suspension/fine that goes along with it. Some say it’s part of some tradition and old school’ness; Just like Cole Hamels plugging Bryce Harper, trying to teach and humble the young talent. Did he have a point? I’m not so sure, but one thing is – Baseball and the NBA would be a whole of a lot more boring without these guys stepping outside the rules and regulations boundaries.
Dexter Pittman came out of nowhere with his hit on Stephenson. We thought that was gone and done with the whole ‘LeBron is a choker’ thing. Beating the Pacrers by 30 points should have been enough of a point. But Pittman, who doesn’t get much floor time, wanted to get on the good side of his team’s best player, so he elbowed Stephenson in the dying moments of the game.
Well, basketball-wise, Udonis Haslem’s omission will be very big for Miami. He suddenly started hitting those open jumpers the Heat needed him oh-so-badly to hit. Now he’ll be out of Game 6, and even more burden will be on the shoulders of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. As if they needed any more.
But there was also some nostalgia going along with the cheap shots. The Eastern conference in the 1990’s was a blood bath. Pacers – Knicks, Knicks – Bulls, Heat – Knicks. We can go further back to the Pistons, Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers during the 1980’s. There were stars on all those teams, but there was tons and tons of animosity. Which made the games much more fun to watch.
Seeing players ready to go at each other, physically, just gives a different, wanted aspect to the game. Maybe not to everyone, and definitely not to David Stern and the people running this league, but this is a physical game that has been toned down in recent seasons in favor of high scoring and hopefully high ratings. Parity and stars bring ratings and viewers, not softening up the play.
The league’s fortunes changed since the mid 00’s not because Stern cracked down hard on flagrant fouls and everything leading up from the Brawl in Detroit. Things changed for the best because of the influx of stars that the public likes into the league. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant, who isn’t likable as a person but is great to watch. Some owners and the NBA itself might not like the idea of Star-like teams, but they bring in the fans and create the buzz.
Great rivalries do that as well. When teams go at each other in consecutive years through the postseason, it gets more and more worth watching. Because of the stories, and not just the basketball. Because of the grudge match, and not just for smart plays and acrobatic dunks.
What Haslem and Pittman did probably wouldn’t have been called a flagrant foul about 15 years ago. There’s always the chance of things deteriorating after actions and retaliations such as these, but even a good ol’ fashioned brawl isn’t that bad of an idea.