Monday, May 4, 2009

neither one of them even comes close to being Chick Hearn

OK, so the Lakers lost tonight to the Houston Rockets in game one of the second round of the basketball playoffs.

I started listening to the game with about 8 minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Rockets were doing a good job, and the Lakers, not so much. The Rockets went on a 7-0 run and never really looked back. The Lakers had their chance at shots - and they missed horribly. And they didn't stop the Rockets.

I used to love listening to Lakers games on the radio. Even if the Lakers were losing, the games were enjoyable to listen to because of Chick Hearn. I didn't really lose most of my interest in the Lakers until Chick passed away because he was the one that was the consistent voice of the Lakers, no matter who was coaching or playing on the team.

So, it's the closing minutes of the game, and yeah, the Lakers were "supposed" to win, so their impending loss was coming as a bit of a surprise, at least to some people. And then dude who calls the play-by-play (don't know his name, don't care) said, "The Rockets are two minutes away from stealing this game." WHISKEY.TANGO.FOXTROT. S*T*E*A*L*I*N*G? Really. Seriously? What, did the refs hand them the game? Yeah, I heard that the Lakers weren't happy about the officiating, but that happens a lot with a lot of teams, and I didn't hear repeated examples of the refs blatantly making bad calls just so the Rockets could undeservedly beat the Lakers. From what I could tell based on the comments, the Rockets led most of the way through the game, with the Lakers only having the lead a couple of times, and they were no more than a couple point leads that vanished fairly quickly. It sounded like the Rockets had the game in hand most of the way through. To steal something means that it doesn't belong to you, that it belongs to someone else and that you have wrongly appropriated it. That is not what happened tonight. The Rockets beat the Lakers because the Rockets played better. The Lakers at no time were the rightful owners of the win. What an insult to the Rockets to say that their team "stole" the game.

And then, Mr. Color Commentary Guy (again, don't know his name, don't care) chimes in with less than a minute to go that it'll be interesting to see what effect this win has on the Rockets when it comes to game two. To paraphrase, "Will the Rockets be fat cats content to have won one game, or will they be greedy and try to take game two as well?" WHISKEY.TANGO.FOXTROT. G*R*E*E*D*Y? Really. Seriously? I don't remember his exact sentence, but "fat cats" and "greedy" were definitely his terminology. Isn't the point of the games to win, no matter where you are? Are the Rockets somehow supposed to make up for "stealing" game one by simply conceding game two to the Lakers, because after all, they wouldn't want to appear greedy by winning BOTH games, oh no, that would not be becoming of a guest in someone else's home. Give me a frickin' break. The Rockets want to take both games at Staples Center and then win both games in Houston and then be done with the second round and wait for the next round. That's not being greedy. That's called playing the game.

So much of this stems from the assumption that so many of the sports folks have that the finals will be between the Lakers and the Cleveland Cavaliers, because they want a showdown between Kobe Bryant and just-named-season-MVP-today LeBron James. I've heard more than one sports guy say that's what's going to happen, so let's just cut to the chase and get to it. Ummm, yeah, maybe on paper, those are the two teams who would be in the finals. But they don't go by paper - they go by actually playing the games. Because it doesn't always matter what the paper says. Some sports guys say that if the Lakers play at their best, they are unstoppable. Ummm, yeah, but that presumes they will be able to play their best at all times. And anyone who's followed the Lakers at any given time knows that them playing their best can turn on a dime. It's not about who's going to win if everyone plays their best. It's about who actually plays better than the other team. And tonight, it was the Rockets.

So both Lakers broadcasters seemed to come from the position that the Lakers are entitled to be in the finals, and anyone who gets in their way is just being wrong and not nice. If the Lakers screwed up during a game, Chick Hearn would have been the first person to point it out. He was definitely exciting to listen to when the Lakers were doing their thing, but when they weren't, he would tell you that as well, in no uncertain terms and holding back nothing. He never thought the Lakers were entitled to anything - they had to earn it, and if they couldn't be bothered to earn it, they didn't deserve it. He would have had a number of choice words for the Lakers tonight, and using the words "stealing" and "greedy" in reference to the Rockets wouldn't have been among them.

I've not missed Chick so much as I did tonight.

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