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As expected, the crapstorm surrounding the Horry/Stoudamire/Diaw suspensions is filling the airwaves today.  I've been listening to a little ESPN radio during trips and it's the subject of the day by far.  Dan Patrick had David Stern on the air and Stern said that although the result was clearly mandated by the rules he wasn't happy with it and perhaps the rules need to be looked at.  

Gee, YA THINK???

For supposedly having the best commissioner in the sports universe (and by extension I guess one of the best front offices) it really, really disturbs me how slow and reactionary the NBA is.  These rules are in place because of the New York/Miami brawls a a decade ago, instituted after they happened.  Not only have they not stopped similar brawls since they also do nothing to address whatever the root causes of those original fights were (or any of the incidents since, including the one this week).  Another classic example is the lottery system.  It started out with equal chances for every team.  Then when New York got Ewing and there was such an uproar they figured that wasn't fair so they weighted it.  Then Orlando got the #1 pick two years in a row and they figured that wasn't fair so they changed the weighting system.  It's my belief that the next time something screwy happens, coupled with the fact that the worst teams seldom get the best pick, they're going to figure out something is still screwed up and change it again.  But WHY do we have to wait for teams to get screwed over, or major playoff series to get affected, or tons of media and popular outrage for these things to be addressed?  Is there nobody around invested in thinking ahead instead of reacting to what's already gone by?  It's like a stubborn local governmental body that gets told repeatedly that an intersection is dangerous but six people have to die there before they'll put up a stupid light.  Yes, that bench rule is stupid and basically unenforceable as written and...oh...excuse me...WHY DID IT TAKE YOU SCREWING WITH THE LEAGUE'S MARQUEE SERIES TO FIGURE THAT OUT?

A couple of quibbles I have with what I hear people saying today:

  1.  It's not a foregone conclusion that San Antonio will win tonight's game.  Yes, the Suns' bench is already thin but teams--especially championship teams--often come through in situations EXACTLY like this.  It wouldn't surprise me to see Phoenix win anyway.
  2.  I'm sure there are plenty of claims around Suns-land that the NBA is showing favoritism towards the Spurs for whatever reason.  That is CLEARLY ridiculous.  The Spurs are a ratings nightmare for the league as, by the way, are the Jazz.  The one team the league WANTS to come out of the West (if it has a preference) is the high-octane, offensive-minded Suns.  There's not even a close second.  The league LOVES the resurrection that the Suns' play has heralded and would love to see that confirmed with a championship so there would be more imitators and more vindication for the new rule system.  This is not a case of favoritism, rather the league getting boxed into a corner due to its own short-sightedness and one of its teams again paying the price...just like whoever would have gotten Patrick Ewing or Orlando's second #1 pick or whoever gets screwed out of the next one before the league gets it right.
--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)