What could have been

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 18, 2005

I don’t know about you, but I loved watching the beautiful ball handling and impossible passes made by Phoenix Sun guard Steve Nash and the dominance of emerging superstar forward Amare Stoudemire in the NBA conference finals.

I also couldn’t wait to see the Shaquille O’ Neal of old step out in his Miami Heat uniform and take a game over the way he used to with the Lakers and Magic and the way his Heat counterpart does in the form of guard Dwayne Wade.

This is what the NBA Finals could have featured – matchups of Nash vs. Wade, Stoudemire vs. Shaq. That’s exciting basketball.

But instead we’ve been stuck with two of the most unexciting teams in the NBA – the Detroit Pistons and the San Antonio Spurs.

Here’s a question for you, name one exciting player on the Detroit Pistons.

I’m waiting.

The closest you can get to excitement is guard Richard Hamilton and forward Ben Wallace and that’s only if you live for the mid-range jumper and box outs.

Add to that the fact that the Pistons complain about every call that goes against them – of course it doesn’t help when you have the &uot;Technical Foul King&uot; Rasheed Wallace manning your court. Larry Brown needs to remember how his team acted last year when they swept the Lakers in the Finals and not blame losses on the officiating.

The Spurs are a bit more exciting, but not much, as exciting would never be a word to describe this team.

If it wasn’t for guard Manu Ginobli and cameos of guard Tony Parker’s girlfriend Eva Longoria, the Spurs would be in the same boat as the Pistons.

And I suppose you’re saying, what about the best player in the world, Tim Duncan.

But for what Duncan gains in every fundamentally sound play he makes to give his team win after win, he loses in excitement.

Ginobli, who is quickly showing why the NBA is becoming more and more of an international league, is the only player in the Finals that I love to watch.

Every time the Spurs have won a game during this playoff season, Ginobli has come through with an insane play in the fourth quarter – usually at a time when the Spurs need it most, such was the case in the first two games of the championship

So sure the Finals has Ginobli, but imagine the Finals with the Heat facing the Suns.

Of course imagination is bliss, but what if the Heat had a healthy Shaq and Dwayne Wade – best guard-center combo in the NBA, challenged only by Nash and Stoudemire.

If Shaq and Wade were healthy, there is no doubt the Heat would have steam rolled through Detroit and reached the Finals.

The Suns on the other hand had the extremely unfortunate task of facing the Spurs – a team that just wins, plain and simple.

It’s not that the Suns are a bad team, it’s that they had to play a winner.

Nash is the most exciting player in the NBA – you can’t take your eyes off of him as he rushes up the court, weaving through defenders, only to make the perfect pass no one else would have even thought to make.

The pass falling right in the soft hands of Stoudemire who always finishes.

Yes, imagination really is bliss.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, because even though this matchup would have me glued to the screen every game night, in reality I am stuck with watching a coach’s game between the two best coaches in the NBA in Larry Brown and Greg Popovich.

And instead of seeing a series filled with hotly contested, offensive showdowns we are stuck with one team getting blown out because of mid range jumpers and rebounding by the time the fourth quarter rolls around.

Fundamentals are so boring.