When did crafty cheating become a skill? When exactly did we start praising teams and players for finding clever ways to break the rules? I don’t know about you, but it’s not what sports are or should be about. Yet, all over various media outlets, we’re seeing the Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and company being lauded for their “crafty moves” or “gamesmanship” techniques.
Forget the offensive foul called on Carmelo Anthony with 21 seconds to go. How the refs made that call with Pierce’s over-acting is beyond me, but the more important sequence of events comes afterwards. Skip to the 4:09 mark in this video and watch.
If you were paying close attention, you should have first noticed Garnett elbowing and tripping Toney Douglas to the floor before Allen’s three pointer. As the New York Knicks come down the court on the final possession, you will also have seen two Celtics’ coaches clapping and yelling behind Carmelo during his final shot – and even being on the court!
I don’t know about you, but as a NBA fan, I find this incredulous. Why the referees overlook actions like this is beyond me. And, it appears as though they let certain players, and even entire teams, get away with it. We already know superstars receive the benefit of calls whether against them or no-calls on them. Now, teams are allowed to practice street-ball tactics, and being a “warrior” holds value.
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The Celtics are the epitome of this situation as not only do we see tactics like Garnett’s tripping, but they are also overly physical and border on flagrant fouls because they want to be the tough ones.
When was the last time you saw Tim Duncan purposively throw an elbow on a screen to catch the defender? When have you ever seen Steve Nash hip-toss someone into the scorer’s table like Rondo did to Kirk Hinrich? The fact is, several players, and nearly the entire Celtics team, have developed a “style” of play that isn’t quite cheating, but close enough to get that extra edge. Then when they’re asked about it, the reply is that they’re playing hard and some nights are like heavyweight fights. No they’re not. If I wanted heavyweight fights, I’d watch boxing or even some of the NHL.
The NBA is a game of skill, basketball skills… not the ability to cheat without being noticed. Save those techniques for the Vegas casinos, and let’s get back to playing the game the right way.