David Stern’s Nightmare: What’s Happened to the NBA Playoffs?
Something deep within David Stern’s unconscious mind caused his spine to lurch forward like a catapult in the blue and black darkness. Sweat crept across his skin, but he was shivering. He pulled the sheets and covers back and went to the thermostat–there was no heat. And then he started to ask himself whether or not the visions were true. Had he really been stranded in a cornfield, thunder booming in the sky overhead, scarecrows sprouting up in the glow of the lightning, the sound of silver spurs spinning in the silent gaps of the storm, and then an army of skeletons, with fifes and drums and tricorn hats, marching through the withered husks of the field? Was it real? Was it something of the present, the past, or the future? Whatever it was, David Stern couldn’t sleep, so he went downstairs, poured himself a glass of milk, and took a seat on his couch.
When he turned the television on, he was greeted by the sight of Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade exchanging harsh words with his coach Eric Spolestra as the Indiana Pacers took a two games to one lead over his League’s current flagship. As Stern watched the pundits and talking heads fret over the health of Wade, the absence of Bosh, and the unpredicability of LeBron’s narrative, he wondered aloud who the Pacers most recognizable player might be and arrived at Tyler Hansbrough, the epitome of physical hustle and college ball. Then Stern went back into the kitchen, poured out his glass of milk, and reached for the stronger stuff, pouring out a shot in the name of Roy Hibbert and every other Pacer the public wouldn’t recognize.
Then, taking the bottle with him, the man went back to the couch where he bore witness to highlights that weren’t highlights at all. The ancient Tim Duncan, barely even sweating, was schooling a naive Blake Griffin. Needless to say, Stern poured himself another shot. Hadn’t these San Antonio Spurs reached their expiration date? Weren’t the days of them sneaking deep into the Playoffs like an army of ants done with? Hadn’t they been exterminated? By the time he was done with black and silver questions, Stern was drunk, having taken a shot for every lowly rated Finals appearance that miserable team from the Alamo had handed him and his League. Oh, the horror! The horror! Damn that Gregg Popovich!
As the night rolled on, a heavy black tide of guilt shrouded David Stern and his thoughts. He had locked the players out, bargained with them, maybe even broken them, and this is how the basketball gods repaid him–this is what the new CBA hath wrought: a shortened season and a possible final four of the San Antonio Spurs, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Indiana Pacers, and the Philadelphia 76ers. Horrible, he thought, and two of them from the ABA. Oh, the agony!
He took another shot, and tried to fall back asleep thinking warmly of Oklahoma City’s youthful exuberance, wondering if its 21st century quickness might somehow outrun its #44 ranked TV market. He whispered something about Seattle and closed his eyes.
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