Watching the Pistons-Celtics game Sunday evening, a carrot-topped player caught my eye, and I had some ghoulish memories. Then, moments later, history repeated itself. But more on that in a second.
One of the reasons why I had no significant problem with LeBron James’s explosion and single-handed dismantling of the Pistons in Game 5 of last year’s conference final was because he’s … LeBron James. Yes, the Pistons could have defended him better. Yes, it was still inexcusable at times, the way they seemed to let James score on them at will. But he’s still LeBron James, and sometimes the great ones do that. I remember watching second-year pro Michael Jordan drop some 63 points on the vaunted Celtics in a playoff game in 1986. Of course, the Celtics won the game, but they were still helpless against young MJ.
No, getting beat by the other team’s stars I can stomach. It’s all part of the game. When Ray Allen hit a clutch triple off the dribble against the Pistons in Boston last month, tying the game, I just shook my head in admiration. Great shot, under pressure. But it was made by Ray Allen. That’s what he does.
It’s getting your rear end handed to you by a scrub or an unheralded rookie that I can’t abide.
Add Celtics rookie Glen Davis, who looks like a Cro-magnum man with those slightly crossed eyes, to the list of nobodies who’ve splattered diarrhea all over a Detroit sports team.
Davis laid in 16 points in the fourth quarter of the Celtics’ win Sunday, and just about every bucket seemed to be accompanied by a free throw as the too-late Pistons defense tried unsuccessfully to hack “Big Baby”, Davis’s apparent nickname — which possesses cruel irony, since our own Big Baby, the Lions’ Shaun Rogers, was as unproductive in the second half of the season as Davis was productive in Sunday’s fourth quarter.
So back to the carrot top on the Celtics bench — which is where he belongs, and has been ensconced ever since he ripped out the Pistons’ hearts in 2004.
Remember Brian Scalabrine? He torched the Pistons in Game 5 of the Eastern semis, when he played for New Jersey. Unlike Davis, though, Scalabrine’s poison was the three-point shot. Oh, how many triples he rained on the Pistons that night! Nobody had heard of him before his outburst, and not many have heard of him since. But there he was, in the familiar sweats of the bench player, as my TV tube flickered the images to me Sunday night.
Scalabrine as a Net: don’t remind me
Hey, how about Luke Walton? Remember his ridiculous display of shooting, passing, rebounding, and general annoyance that he provided for the Lakers in Game 2 of the Finals in ’04? Yes, the Lakers won that game on Kobe Bryant’s shooting at the end, but it was Walton and his 15 minutes of fame — almost literally — that set the stage. I attended Game 3 in Detroit, and Walton was a complete non-factor, having returned to normalcy. I haven’t heard much from the kid since.
Again, I can tolerate getting beat by Bryant, or Allen, or Jason Kidd, or any other star from any other team in any other sport. But it’s unacceptable to let the Glen Davises and Brian Scalabrines and Luke Waltons do you in. Thank goodness the Scalabrine and Walton games came in series in which the Pistons won, or else I may have been suicidal.
It doesn’t stop with basketball. Set your time machine back to 2006, when Vikings running back Artose Pinner, a former Lion and a certified non-star, ran wild at Ford Field. Of course, the Lions are good at making every back look like Jim Brown and backup QBs look like Joe Montana. Or you can take just about any Indians-Tigers game last season and set your sights on Casey Blake. Blecch. I still can’t say (or type) the name Fernando Pisani without getting a nervous tick. SSEe WhAt I MeAn? Edmonton’s Pisani actually led the NHL playoffs in goal scoring for much of the 2006 post-season, including his way-above-his-head performance against the Red Wings in Round One. Fernando Pis — forget it, I can’t bring myself to mention him again in his entirety. Besides, it’s not even CLOSE to being a hockey name. No one named Fernando should be on skates in the NHL, I’m sorry.
I firmly believe that the pain of Red Sox fans over their 1978 playoff loss to the Yankees would be significantly reduced if the home run that beat them at Fenway Park was hit by, say, Reggie Jackson. Or Thurman Munson. Or Lou Piniella. But it was hit by Bucky Dent (or as Red Sox fans know him, Bucky F***ing Dent), and I think that’s just not something Red Sox faithful can stomach, and I can’t blame them. If Reggie had beaten them, then you just tip your hat and say, “Well, he IS Mr. October, after all.” But Bucky Dent? I’m a little annoyed with that, too — and I am by no means a Red Sox man.
The Pirates lost the 1992 pennant to the Braves thanks to a ninth-inning single by little-used Francisco Cabrera, who had 10 — TEN — at-bats in the regular season. How’d ya think that would play with your tummy?
One of my favorite coaches of all-time, in any sport, was the NBA’s Doug Moe. He was one of the last to wear open-collared shirts and pace up and down the sidelines with his hands on his hips, like the 1970s coaches. And he was great copy. Once, after some nobody beat his team with an unexpected great performance, Moe said of the dude, “He completely ate our lunch. It was embarrassing. He’ll never make another basket the rest of his life.”
The Celtics’ Glen Davis certainly will make more baskets, but I hope they won’t be as frequent or as lethal as the ones he made Sunday in Auburn Hills. Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce are free to go crazy all they want. But not Glen F***ing Davis.