Campaigns/Elections

The Politics of Basketball

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Brilliant:

Some in the media are declaring the series over because the Boston Celtics have won four of the six games played so far. But I don't understand why, with a series this close and hotly contested, anyone would want to shut it down before we play a seventh game and have all the results in. As anybody who follows the NBA knows, a seven-game series would be good for the league, and the added competition would make the eventual victor, whomever it might be, a stronger opponent against the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals….

Yes, Boston has won four games and Detroit only two. But it's hard to imagine a more arbitrary and undemocratic way to determine this series's outcome than "games won." It is, after all, a bedrock value of the game of basketball that all points must be counted. But how can that be the case when every point beyond the winning point is ignored? There are literally dozens of layups, jumpers, free throws, and (yes, even) dunks that our opponents want to say don't count for anything at all. We call on the NBA to do the right thing and fully count all of the baskets that were made throughout the course of this series.

Once you abandon the artificial four-games-to-two framework that the media has tried to impose on the series, a very different picture emerges, with the Celtics leading by a mere 549 points to 539. Yes that's right, the margin between the two teams is less than one percent—a tie, for all intents and purposes. This is probably the closest Conference Finals in NBA history, though I will thank you not to check on that.

There's more. Read the whole thing.

NEXT: Ron Paul v. Satan

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  1. That’s some seriously inspired satire. Bravo!

  2. (By the way, you guys do know that Celts star Paul Pierce was involved in a stabbing a few years back, right? I only mention it because Phil Jackson is obviously going to bring it up in the Finals.)

    ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!

    Quality stuff.

  3. Props!

  4. Any superdelegate who hadn’t chosen a nominee by yesterday should have their superdelegate status revoked, and given to someone with the balls to make a decision already.

  5. I didn’t click any links, and I already know this is Hillary.

    Guns, Sports, Crown Royal, Hillary.

    One of these things is not like the other,
    One of these things just doesn’t belong…

  6. Even more shocking and anti-democratic is the antiquated system of determining the champions by the number of games won rather than total points scored.

    LeBron James, the overall highest scoring player, isn’t even in the final contest. I demand a recount!

  7. Well, when you take into account that the Pistons points should only count for half a point each (MI team after all), then the Celtics have clearly destroyed them. Bring on those Lakers, and stop whining Bitch.

  8. Given the racial makeup of the NBA, shouldn’t each player count as two-thirds?

  9. Damn. I need a band-aid, that snark was so keen.

  10. This would be even punchier if they used the Cavs. The Cavs outscored Boston in their series.

  11. If I was to form a punk band, I’d call it “Pierced Paul” and make everyone wear Celtics gear.

  12. Even more shocking and anti-democratic is the antiquated system of determining the champions by the number of games won rather than total points scored.

    Surely some form of “proportional wins” would be fairer than the winner-take-all system used now. Why should a team that wins a game by a single point get 100% of the win and the other team gets nothing?

    This could lead to an egregious result in basketball as it has in baseball. In the 1960 World Series the Yankees scored 67% of the runs but sill lost to the Pirates who managed to score only 33% of the runs (55 runs to 27)!

  13. I guess it is kind of funny. The problem is that the six games in the Pistons Celtics series are in the books. There is nothing “in the books” in this process until the Convention. While, unlikly, there is nothing to prevent super delegates from changing their mind and voting differently come the convention. The analogy is pretty lame when you think about it.

  14. Clearly Detroit has a better chance of beating the Lakers in the finals. Therefore, the powers that be should grant them a spot in the finals to give the Eastern Conference the best chance at winning!

  15. therefore, the powers that be should grant them a spot in the finals to give the Eastern Conference the best chance at winning!

    Isn’t that what the powers that be (i.e. refs) did in the Western Conference to make sure the Lakers were the “nominee” as it were? 🙂

  16. Making a tired NBA players are all black joke or fucking up the joke by not knowing the correct fraction?

  17. Isn’t that what the powers that be (i.e. refs) did in the Western Conference to make sure the Lakers were the “nominee” as it were? 🙂

    The refs made the Spurs lose 20 point and 17 point leads on the road? It’s not like the series was close, the Lakers won 4-1.

    Don’t bring up Game 4, the Fisher no call on Barry is canceled out by the Fisher no call on the “airball” 5 seconds earlier.

  18. I’d like to see a list of everyone who shrieked “popular vote” in 2000 who are defending Obama on this point now.

  19. Too many Boston punk bands as it is, joe, and they all have way too much Southie pride.

    Punk fans: I recently saw a Boston punk band whose singer had a single finger instead of a right hand. I can’t remember the name. Any help?

  20. x,y,

    Hillary only wins the popular vote if you pretend that nobody voted in any of the caucuses that report their results in delegates instead of votes.

  21. Warty, was it just the middle finger? ‘Cause that would be super-cool.

  22. It wasn’t any particular finger, because he didn’t have a hand. His arm just kinda…tapered.

  23. I forgot about caucuses. Is there a breakdown of what the “popular vote” would have been?

  24. x,y,

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com has a good breakdown. In the box on the right, under “popular vote,” they run through the different scenarios.

    Hillary is also ahead if you count her votes in Michigan and don’t give Obama any.

  25. I’d like to see a list of everyone who shrieked “popular vote” in 2000 who are defending Obama on this point now.

    I don’t even know why this is relevant.

    Private political parties can choose their nominee however they please.

    It wasn’t until the last 20 years or so that the voters even had a say in the primary process.

  26. As a disappointed Pistons fan, I’m in 100% agreement. We could take ’em by eleven in game seven.

  27. Don’t bring up Game 4, the Fisher no call on Barry is canceled out by the Fisher no call on the “airball” 5 seconds earlier.

    That was Barry’s fault as well as the referee’s. Barry should’ve leaned forward when making that last shot, then he most certainly would’ve gotten the three free throws that might have won the game.

    As for the Celtics-Lakers game, my bet is on the Lakers, 4-3 or even 4-2. A couple of weeks ago I would’ve picked Boston (and in fact I did), but Kobe and his crew seem pretty much unbeatable at home and they’ve had more success on the road. Still should be a great series to watch.

  28. J sub D,

    I don’t know if you were talking about the Pistons vs. the Lakers, but you do know that the Lakers acquired Gasol as late as February, right? Had they done so earlier their record might have equaled or even bettered Boston’s.

  29. but you do know that the Lakers acquired Gasol as late as February, right? Had they done so earlier their record might have equaled or even bettered Boston’s.

    Yeah, you mean the most one-sided trade since the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees for a song and a dance? What a joke. Memphis must still be too sore to sit after that deal. What’s even worse is giving away such a player to an already very good team. I mean, nobody would care if you gave him to the Heat or the Knicks, but the Lakers? What a joke.

    Anyway, Lakers in five.

  30. Isn’t that what the powers that be (i.e. refs) did in the Western Conference to make sure the Lakers were the “nominee” as it were? 🙂

    Give it a rest man. They lost the series 4-1, no amount of whining will change that fact.

  31. Give it a rest man. They lost the series 4-1, no amount of whining will change that fact.

    I wasn’t actually whining – just joking based on the previous comment and the fact that some people think the league wanted the Lakers. I really don’t care one way or the other as I’m not a Spurs fan.

  32. Brian,

    You apparently don’t know or choose to ignore that the Lakers won nine of its first 10 games with Gasol, with nine of ’em on the road. And given the tight Western Conference regular season that was a huge boost for the Lakers. Ridiculing Gasol as a “regular” player is like saying the Pistons are just another team ’cause none of ’em is a Kobe.

  33. NP,

    Huh? I don’t understand your comment. I clearly agree that Gasol was a great addition – that’s why I called it a steal of a trade for the Lakers. They got a great player without giving up much at all. It was indeed a “huge boost” for the Lakers and one that I think will win them the title. My only lament was as a non-Lakers fan it’s too bad to see a team that already had the greatest player in the league able to make such a one-sided deal to get even better (championship caliber better). If the Grizzlies are going to be so inept, couldn’t they have dealt him to Miami?

  34. Looks like I misunderstood your last comment, Brian. I thought you were being sarcastic. My bad. And I wouldn’t predict such a lopsided win for the Lakers (seriously, a five-game win against the Celtics?), but yeah, they’ll win eventually.

    Go, Lakers!

  35. Does anyone know if the Lakers and Celtics have ever met in the finals before? I can’t seem to find this information anywhere.

    We know what we’re going to get from the Lakers: a very high level of play, especially on offense.

    We don’t know what we’re going to get from Boston. They are better at their best, but less reliable. Will Rondo choke in the finals? Has he gotten more comfortable in the Big Game because of the last three series, or will he be even more stressed because it’s the finals? What about Allen, is he actually back or what?

  36. joe,

    I don’t know what’s really up with Allen. One article says he’s back at practice, another says he might miss game 1. And Rondo is another uncertain case: No doubt he’s gotten more comfortable, but as you said he’s never been in the finals. We’ll just have to see ’cause he has no experience to base our expectations on.

    But even with both of ’em playing well the Lakers will be very tough to beat. Kobe is simply playing at his peak right now, Gasol has proved an indispensable addition, and again they have yet to lose a game at home. The only area where the Celtics have a clear edge is defense, but you don’t expect Agassi to beat Sampras in a 7-match tour. Like I said it’ll be a great series to watch, but I predict the Lakers will prevail in the end.

  37. The problem with causes is that the population is smaller. For example, look at Washington:

    Even though Obama’s margin of victory went from 37 points to a mere 5 points counting the primary would give him 36,000 extra votes vs. almost 12,000 that he got from the caucus. Granted, he tends to do worse in primaries, but that was due to strategic focus.

  38. I forgot to make perhaps the most important point: The two regular-season games the Lakers lost to the Celtics were before their acquisition of Gasol. Now you see why the Celtics should be worried.

  39. NP,

    Last year the Cavs were 2-0 vs the Spurs and they didn’t even make a big acquisition in the season. We all know how that worked out.

  40. Mo,

    2006-07: Cavs, 50-32; Spurs, 58-24
    2007-08: Celtics, 66-16; Lakers, 30-16 (pre-Gasol), 27-9 (post)

    Also, the Spurs have Parker, Duncan and Ginobli, the Cavs have LeBron and… who?

    So sorry, but I think the Lakers are in a better situation than the ’07 Cavs.

  41. Actually NP, I was supporting your POV. The Cavs went 2-0 in the regular season vs. the Spurs and it didn’t end up doing them much good in the finals. My comment was a way to disarm the “but the Lakers were 0-2 vs. the Celtics this year” crowd.

  42. Mo,

    Gotcha. Guess I got confused by the “acquisition” part. Either I need to learn how to read better or people can’t write clear prose. Not that I’m accusing you of the latter, of course.

  43. It’s going to be a hell of a series, that’s for sure. One that will live up to the history.

    No Red Sox/Rockies series, this.

  44. In the spirit of cooperation, maybe the Celtics could bring the Pistons along to the finals. Surely it would give the East a better chance of winning.

    I’m not saying they need to open up spots in their starting lineup… the bench would be acceptable.

    I’d imagine the Pistons would be open to that.

  45. Since I’m a pedantic asshole, I’ll point out that the NHL originally awarded the Cup to the team with the most goals, and MLS did the same until recently.

  46. it’s an inapt analogy. at the time it was written, it would have made sense only if the celtics were up 3-2 (not 4-2) and had also lost an additional game which was arbitraily deemed to not count.

    ok, maybe i’m just still pissed that the cavs couldn’t finish off the celtics. if only they had gotten jason kidd or mike bibby, maybe michael redd next year…anyone with a jump shot…please???

    lakers in 5 or 6.

  47. who cares basketball sucks anyways

  48. joe – Agreed.

    Russ R. – Yeah, then the Lakers should be allowed to bring the Spurs or the Hornets, too. You surely don’t want that, do ya?

    jimmy – Right. The Cavs definitely need a change in their lineup. Even Jordan couldn’t do it alone.

  49. Brilliant, brilliant.

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