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Sunday, May 20, 2007

The death of Sportsmanship

Yep, it's dead. Sportsmanship has probably been dead for a long time in this country. It has become very obvious when the penalties were announced for Robert Horry of the San Antonio Spurs, Amare Stoudamire and Boris Diaw after game 4 of the NBA Western Conference Semi-Finals.

I've always been a believer that sports is a form of fair competition where people can play against one another in a fair manner where rules and officiation. Unlike what we encounter in life which isn't always "fair", we all find a way out and see athletes compete fairly while we can enjoy the excitement. The series has been a very physical one, and the referees are supposed to be the ones drawing lines of what is and what is not a foul in order to keep the games in check. Some may disagree with me, but I honestly do not enjoy seeing players going down hard every single time they make a layup. Every time you fall down like that, you risk injuring yourself, and for those athletes that may lead to career ending injuries. In this series particularly, I honestly don't remember an "unchallenged layup" where players can come down without getting the physical treatment. The stakes are high, and the players and fans all know that it may very well be the series to determine the championship team of this year.

Game 4 in final seconds, the Suns were on its way to winning it in the final seconds. The Spurs had no chance to even tie the game, and the questionable foul happened when Robert Horry hard fouling Steve Nash lacking any sportsmanship of any kind to protect him from injuring. Instead of just a regular foul, it appeared that he basically tried to knock him down hard to cause injuries to the Suns' MVP star player. Usually, a player commiting a foul to a running player on a fast break situation would be to wrap him around to stop him from continuing to run in a way that he would not fall down hard to risk any injuries. Instead, as you can see from the video, Robert did it exactly the other way around.

The aftermath of all that:
Robert Horry the bench player who committed the horrific foul: 2 game suspension
Amare Stoudamire (The Suns' Star player), Boris Diaw (The Suns' starting Foward): 1 game suspension each in the determining game 5 of the 7 game series for simply leaving the bench area that caused... nothing.
The TEAM with the player that caused the flagrant foul lost a bench player for 2 games.
The TEAM that had the MVP knocked down almost knocking his head to the officiating tables lost 2 starters for the decisive game 5, and eventually losing the entire series.

The reasoning:
NBA has a rule stating that if the players on the bench leaves the bench area, they will be penalized. Honestly, the rule itself isn't a bad one. It's designed to keep the players in check; the game undisturbed; and in a sense that incidents like these will not escalate.

Fairness? None...
The rule was made in order to keep the game to be played fairly, correct? It's just like our laws were made in order with justice and fairness in mind, except it applies to the game instead of our lives. What happened to the justice and fairness that we were hoping for in watching sports games? Do we live in the age where sports is more of a form of business instead of competition?
Stu Jackson's decision to suspend Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw for leaving the bench during the fracas at the end of Game 4 is utterly, profoundly, alarmingly, unreasonably ridiculous, writes Chris Sheridan. -ESPN
I think Stu Jackson and the NBA has lost something that used to capture the hearts of basketball fans, and it spells S P O R T S M A N S H I P.

"The rule is the rule," Jackson said.
"It's not a matter of fairness. It's a matter of correctness."

What if that's what a Federal judge say to you in your face where your fate is determined?
It's about correctness of applying a rule that is designed in a world of sports where fairness stand by some guy's biased interpretation of it?

There is no doubt that the Spurs/Suns series is already ruined by the call, and there is little doubt that the NBA playoffs season is ruined by this one misjudgment.

Fouls like these are OKAY, and it's already become a part of the game that even players like Bruce Bowen who kept crossing and pushing the line are rewarded with Defensive Player of the Year, TWICE.

IF, and I repeat, IF the Spurs ordered Robert Horry to intentionally make a hard foul on Nash and walk back immediate to cause this mayhem, then what? I mean, I am by no means making an accusation, but let's just assume for a second that is actually a remote possibility... then the NBA just got lured into making a call to just ruin the entire season of eliminating the Suns to compete fairly to the end of the season. If I am the coach of the Spurs in that situation, presumably knowing the outcome of all this, would you have done it?

The NBA needs to review these rules. The NBA needs to look at a bigger picture on the scale of a team instead of just a player in situations like these. The NBA should also look into promoting sportsmanship and fairness, instead of abiding by the books. The season for me, is already over, and I have lost any further interest in watching it any further regardless of how much I enjoyed the Golden States Warriors vs the Dallas Mavericks series. I can't help but still remain a bit of hope, because I still fantasize what sports should be all about.

Interesting fact: NBA commissioner David Stern has canceled a schedule appearance in Phoenix for Wednesday night's Game 5.

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