More photos » Chris Carlson - AP
5 days ago: After being hit in the nose by Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher, left, Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash, second from right, is escorted down the floor by forward Amare Stoudemire as guard Jason Richardson reacts during the second half of Game 3 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals Sunday, May 23, 2010, in Phoenix. Phoenix won 118-109. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
What can I tell you in this preview that you have not already read? What can I tell you about Amare's almost too late come back in Game 3 that you have not already seen? What can I tell you about the stupidity of stats when the Lakers get 20 and 20 from Bryant and Gasol but still lose? What more is there to say about wanting to donate a bucket to Channing Frye? What can I say about this game that you yourself have not already said? What, my friend, what?
Let me first begin by telling you that this will not be the last Suns game preview you will read this season, and that's something no one knew when I accepted this weighty assignment three days ago.
In both the literal and the figurative, and even in the hyperbolically literal, this game is deep in the cut, deep in the marrow of everything this series will mean across the collective consciousness of the NBA.
Literally, the injuries continue to mount in a blood toll and tonight the ante will be upped. From black eyes to bloody noses, it's not just Nash getting the stitches. Then there's Bynum's knee, loaded with all kinds of unnatural chemicals to drain the pain. Tonight's game will be even more physical.
Here's how you get the Lakers. They pull a elbow, you pull a clothesline. The Lakers sends one of yours to the trainer, you send one of his to the hospital! That's the NBA way, and that's how you get the the Finals!
There's no such thing as a hard foul tonight. Not because that's how we like it, but because that's how the NBA likes it.
Figuratively, this game is deep in the track, the rhythm of the series, all the ebbs and flows of players and the wax and wane of strategic adjustments. Will girlie zone and bully ball reunite in victory tonight? Will Nash amp up his shot? Will the Suns get Channing a few layups to start the game? Who will play tight? Who will let it all out on the court? Will the Lakers break through in Phoenix?
Finally, in the hyperbolically literal, this game is deep in the crux of the series. 3-1 against the Lakers means this series is literally, no, figuratively, no wait, hyperbolically-literally done. That fourth and final Lakers win, like death, may be delayed, but never averted.
On the other hand, a win for the Suns here does more than re-achieve parity in an accelerated "Best of 3" series. For the Suns to win, it will mean that the girlie zone was more than a gimmick. It means that the Suns weapons are armed. It means bully ball wasn't just a one-time surprise attack. It means the Lakers do not have all the answers. It means the Suns have not yet shown their best.
Take advice from the Phil Jackson, Lord of the Rings:
"The only thing there is is the Phoenix series," Jackson said. "If we don't just stay focused on that, there's nothing else. You have to play immediately for this series and forget about whatever else is down the road."
Wasn't this the guy watching tape of the Magic-Celtics series??
I ask you, dear reader, to get off your ass and do something special today about this game. Don't just go watch this game. Don't just meet your friends at the bar and cheer at the flat screen over a pint. Do that, but do something extraordinary before that.
What can you do? you ask, you sorry ordinary citizen of Phoenix. Let me tell you what you can do. You can start by taking this game personally. You can start by saying this game is about more than 94 feet of hardwood. You can start by realizing this game is not won in the 48 minutes of regulation, but in the 95 games and the 10 months of play that has brought these two teams here today. In that span, the accumulation of years of practice and insignificant daily choices (Blimpies or Schlotsky's?) come together on this day. You can admit to yourself that sport is not what a few millionaire players do for you, but about what mobilizes and unites a city to do in the name of self-determination.
By way of example, let me tell you a story about one such city united in self-determination. Do you know how Phoenix became the capital of Arizona?
It so happens that the choice was hotly debated in the 1889 15th Arizona Territorial Legislature -
The first issue dealt with by the session was a proposal for the relocation of the territorial capital.
To ensure passage of the proposal, the Maricopa County delegation made arrangements with a prostitute called Kissin' Jenny to delay a Yavapai County delegate on the day of the vote. The targeted delegate was one of her regular customers. He was also a vain man and the only person in the territory to own a glass eye. The night before the vote he visited Kissin' Jenny's boudoir. At the end of the evening he placed his glass eye into a glass of water and went to sleep. Some time during the night Kissin' Jenny became thirsty and drank the entire contents of the glass. In the morning the delegate discovered his eye was missing and refused to go out into public.
His political allies came searching for him and upon finding him learned that Kissin' Jenny was either unable or unwilling to return the eye.
The whole evolution the State of Arizona, the reason we root for the Phoenix Suns and not the Tucson Wildcats, was decided not by a vote in session, but by the spectacular play of involved citizens who got off their asses, thought creatively about the situation and then embarked on giving the home team the advantage.
So again, I say to you: What can you do to tilt the tables in the Suns favor? Do you know where the Lakers are staying? If you see Ron Artest running around downtown in his undies, are you gonna point and laugh at goofy Artest or are you gonna pick up the phone and call in to the police about a naked immigrant mad man with no ID on the loose? If you're the cop that gets that call, are you going to "recognize" Artest or haul him and his tightie whities down to Tent City?
Is a Laker player stopping by your bar for a drink? Pour them a triple shot. On the house. Call over those escort neighbors of yours. How many different ways could ICY HOT get into the Lakers clothes? Do you know when their game buses will pick them up? Are you one of their bus drivers? How many cars downtown would it take to jam up traffic all the way to the Arena?
There's a few hours today before the game. There's plenty of time to throw a few Lakers players off their game with some crazy, never-before-seen hi-jinks.
You get me? You feel my inflammatory language all up in your brow?
Now I know some of y'all will call me unsportsmanlike or a sports terrorista. Aw horsepucky. This ain't the time for basketball purists. Sit on yo ass and make mad bloggery like me if that's all you got. But, you know the game is rigged and you know it ain't rigged in your favor. Tilt that muthafuckin table right back on the pandering media, the NBA marketing jockeys and David Stern himself for wanting another Lakers-Celtics rematch.
Think about what I'm saying - Some games are won on the court, but the games that matter are won on the court of life.
If that means to you staying pure and yielding the right of way to the Lakers' bus en route to the Arena, fine, good on ya.
If that means cutting that sonovabitch bus off and slamming your breaks just for the hell of it, then pick me up on the way.
Comments are for some safe, sane and at least marginally legal ideas to mess up the Lakers even before they get to the Arena. Think unethical or annoying. I prefer annoying. Think outside the box, what you got?