[eDebate] NBA Game 6 in the "Whine Cellar"

Darren Elliott delliott
Tue Jun 20 13:55:55 CDT 2006


No whiners! Mavs need to shut up ...now
 As the basketball troops head west from the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami to Dallas' American Airlines Center for the conclusion of the 2006 NBA Finals, it's time to stop the all-American confusion.

So with apologies to American Airlines, the AAC shall be dubbed the "Whine Cellar" for the remainder of this series. We're not talking white, red, sweet, dry or any other variation. We're talking pure, unadulterated whine.

OK, as the Mavs lost three games in a row, along with their grip on a 2-0 lead that was on the verge of becoming 3-0, all we've heard about is the officiating. All we heard out of Dallas after Sunday night's thrilling one-point overtime victory was how Heat guard Dwyane Wade committed an offensive foul and was not fouled by Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki, thus making his two free throws that clinched the 101-100 victory unworthy.

And oh yeah, there was the rather large circumstance of Mavs forward Josh Howard calling timeout before Wade's second free throw * thus expending Dallas' final timeout and preventing them from advancing the ball beyond midcourt with 1.9 seconds left as opposed to having to travel the length of the floor.

Sure, they can claim all they want Howard was telling the officials they wanted a timeout after the second free throw if he made it. But what was the point of that? In an incredibly raucous building with so little time on the clock, why would he walk to an official who may or may not hear an entire sentence, look at him and signal timeout?

It was in plain view of everyone, including a national television audience. There was no reason for it, and it will forever be a historic moment in Finals lore.

Of course, Dallas owner Mark Cuban was going to complain (and the NBA noticed, given Tuesday's $250,000 fine). That appears to be at least 30 percent of his job description, to complain about everything. He even admitted in his blog that he's a whiner. Well, that's just fine Mark. And while you were espousing the finer intricacies of Mavericks braggadocio on late night television with your team up 2-0, it did nothing but incite the Heat.

And one more thing we might like to make clear. Wade made his two free throws. Had the Mavericks not missed four of their last eight free throws * and this is from a great free-throw shooting team, not the rock tossing Heat * this wouldn't have mattered. You guys would have been returning home to the Whine Cellar up 3-2 instead of down 3-2.

Even more so, had Nowitzki the superstar who was shooting 94 percent from the free throw line much of the playoffs, not missed a late free throw in Game 3 and in Game 5, chances are the series never would have been returning to Dallas. It would be over.

It's kind of like Al Gore complaining he was robbed by the hanging chads of Florida in the 2000 election. All he had to do was carry his own state of Tennessee and allow Bill Clinton to help him get Arkansas, and Florida wouldn't have mattered.

That's not justifying the Florida political shenanigans. That was handled dubiously any way you look at it. And that's not to say it was fair the way Wade was 21-of-25 from the free throw line Sunday (the exact same numbers as your entire team, while the Heat overall was 32-of-49.

But hey now ... if y'all hadn't missed four in the final minute of regulation and overtime, y'all probably wouldn't be so steamed right now.

Even though the one-game suspension of Jerry Stackhouse for his hit on Shaquille O'Neal in the second half of Game 4 was ludicrous during previous eras of basketball, it was right on the money in the NBA, circa 2006. It may pale in comparison to the clothesline Raja Bell put on Kobe Bryant, but realistically Bell should have gotten multiple games if they were being consistent based on the act itself. At any rate, Stackhouse did not attempt to make a basketball play. O'Neal, all 325-plus pounds of him, was airborne and vulnerable. Stackhouse came at O'Neal high and hard with a shove that could have injured him.

Had Ron Artest or Danny Fortson made that play, people would have been calling for a season-long expulsion.

The bottom line is, according to the present day interpretation of the rules, he earned a suspension.

"It's sad for the players that he's decided to become the story of the Finals ... I think the pressure of his first Finals may be getting to him." 

* David Stern on Mark Cuban, Best Damn Sports Show  
So now, Stackhouse will be back for Game 6 at the Whine Cellar with another level of energy for a team seeking some version of controlled rage because they are convinced they've been hosed.

Funny how whenever the San Antonio Spurs mentioned officiating briefly during the early losses of their seven-game loss to the Mavs, everybody said they were nuts. Give the Mavs credit.

Well, it's time to give the Heat their due for bouncing back from the verge of extinction in Game 3 to take a 3-2 series lead. Had the Mavs taken care of business the way they should have, all of this officiating conjecture would be moot. In fact, that's virtually always the case when it comes to tough losses on a shaky call. There are plenty of other reasons for the loss that had more to do with the outcome than blaming it on an official.

So as the throng heads for Big D, and the strong possibility of this series being extended to a seventh game in the Whine Cellar, there is just one more bit of advice for the Mavs.

Y'all may be proud of your knowledge of fine whine, but this is a beer-guzzling series * survival of the toughest. Just shut up and play.

Veteran NBA writer Mike Kahn is a frequent contributor to FOXSports.com.


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