Big Lead Sports Bar

6/08/2008

Devander: I HOPE RYAN MALONE LAUGHED

by Jason Devander
jasondevander@gmail.com
Honestly, I wanted to puke.

Granted, some of my stomach-churnings came in the aftermath of the Penguins being bounced by the Red Wings on Wednesday night, but I still wanted to vomit.

It goes back to Game 1 of the NBA Finals when Paul Pierce went down with, what looked like, a serious knee injury. He returned to the game minutes later, but my nausea arrived when he began to hit jumper after jumper and showing, what some called, "tremendous courage" by coming back after being hurt so seriously earlier.

He came back after flailing around on the floor, crying into the team doctor's arm while clutching his knee -- he refrained from licking his palms, a la Ferris Bueller -- and then teammates carried Pierce off the floor, which some folks at The Big Lead describe accurately as "more uncomfortable than any injury he received on the play." . For the big finish of embarrassment, team trainers or hangers-on whisked him away in a wheelchair to the locker room.

When you saw him go down, you thought "wow, that's a shame...his season's probably done." Then, as he returned several minutes later, healed by the miraculous powers of a neoprene knee brace, the inclination I felt became "wow, what a whiny, pussified girl" and so much like the kid you knew in fourth grade who cried when he got hit in the mouth with a Nerf football.

Now, I'm not the first nor the last to criticize Pierce. The Los Angeles Times' Bill Plaschke called BS on the moment, and so did, Phil Jackson, in so many words. But courage? Puh-leez. Yet, there were pundits after the game trying to compare Pierce's recovery from a knee injury to the comeback that the Knicks Willis Reed made in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals.

Are you serious? Yes, they were serious. But, no, seriously people considered this an inspiring comeback. Have we gotten to this point in our society where the standards for magnificence are lowered to such an alarming degree?

Of course, the wonderful citizens of Boston will say this is the greatest thing ever, and they will all use this as another case of how the rest of the country hates-on everything Boston. In which case, they'll be right. I don't think it's a stretch to say that Boston is the new New York in the "I Hate Your Teams and Fans" Derby. (And for the record, I despise the expression "hate-on" and any form of "haters." Hate-on sounds too close to Head-On, the headache relief remedy applied directly to the forehead.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a Lakers fan or a Celtics fan. And I really do believe that Pierce hurt his knee. But I am a sports fan who respects and relishes real acts of courage and playing through pain, especially on the largest possible stage of which the game can be played.

For the record, I believe Willis Reed's return in the 1970 Finals should always be remembered as one of the gutsiest and heart-filled performances by any athlete in any sport. Period. It ranks right up there with the Toronto Maple Leaf's Bobby Baun breaking his ankle in Game 6 of the 1964 Stanley Cup Finals and returning in the same game to score the overtime winner. It's there with Kirk Gibson's home run in the 1988 World Series. And let's not forget Michael Jordan's flu game in 1997.

But seriously, did Paul Pierce deserve the laurels that so many were ready to bestow upon him?

You want to talk about courage and playing through pain in THIS playoff year? How about Sergei Gonchar crashing into the boards at full speed in Game 5 vs. the Red Wings, hurting his back and shoulder, and then coming back to be a part of Petr Sykora's game-winner in overtime. And even that wasn't as impressive as Ryan Malone taking the USS Hal Gill's slap shot right in the face near the end of the second period, breaking his nose (again), and then returning for the start of the third after he was stitched up. Hell, Malone got up on his own and skated to the bench as blood poured from his face.

Malone didn't need a damn wheelchair.

And that's why I hope he laughed at Paul Pierce because, as the commercial says, "you'd never make it in the NHL."

5 comments:

godohoky said...

I agree 100%! Basketball is such a pussy sport. Do you know that reaching is a foul in the NBA. Not slapping or tripping or even an accidental tap, but fucking reaching. In regards to the Paul Pierce thing never did I think someone would one up Osgood in terms of embellishment, but you would have thought Paul Pussy had his leg bitten off by shark. From Inglewood my ass. He was fucking crying. If I have to hear Stephen A. Smith on ESPN, you may know him as the whiny bastard that talks out of his ass, say he gave a Willis Reed like performance one more time. I'll kill myself.

Cecil from Cecil Twp. said...

Basketball players are soft. Put anyone of them in a fight against any NHL player and see what happens.

Pistil said...

I think that calling basketball players a bunch of pussies is a bit of a reach, no? I know I know, Pittsburgh doesn't have an NBA team, and as such, these are (unfortunately) the lasting images that you are exposed when it comes to the NBA. For some reason the NBA will always be viewed as some sort of lesser game to the rough and tumble "blue collar" Pittsburgh sports fan.

Of course they aren't as tough as hockey players...then again, not many of us could take a rock to the beak, get stitched up and head back out to play 20 minutes later. Those guys are just wired a bit differently.

The rules are what they are in basketball, the players can't help that. Throwing cheap shot forearm shivers and eye gouges between whistles doesn't make a sport "tough". More entertaining, yes.

Pierce's return from what appeared to be sniper fire from the rafters mere minutes later will obviously call into question the initial severity of the injury. With that said, as far as I remember, #'s 87 and 29 didn't exactly bounce up and play on with those high ankle sprains earlier this year. I'm not defending his theatrics, which I thought were unbelievably over embellished, but the dude obviously thought he blew out his knee.

Jason said...

True, Crosby and MAF didn't bounce right back up after suffering their high-ankle sprains. But, then again, they actually were hurt and missed significant amounts of time, unlike Pierce who missed all of - what? - 10 minutes of actual time?

ManBearPig said...

Pistil how can you defend this kind of crap? No player in the entire NHL would ever dare pull a complete overreaction like this.

I've hurt my knees plenty of times,had two kness surgeries, broke both legs too. Believe me, when you're hurt, you know it.

This guy is either the biggest baby ever or he has the lowest threshold for pain of any professional athlete...ever.