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Old 06-07-2005, 10:23 AM   #1
tobynosker
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Default Hey Marv, Wade is no Willis and Willis is no Willis

Last night while watching Game 7 of the 2005 Eastern Conference Finals with Detroit against Miami, TNT broadcaster Marv Albert compared the rib muscle injury of the Miami Heat's Dwayne Wade to the right thigh injury former New York Knicks star Willis Reed played with during Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. As much as it bothered me as a sports fan to hear an excellent play-by-play announcer in Marv Albert begin to loose all credibility by trying to dramatize Wade's injury even further to create a heroic story should the Heat advance to the NBA Finals on his guttsy performance; it continues to bother me to this day that Reed receives the admiration and the praise that he gets from sports fans and the sports media for his courageous performance in that Game 7 victory thirty-five years ago.

When I think of amazing performances, I think of Kirk Gibson hitting the game-winning home run with a bum leg off of one of the greatest closers in major league history in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. Or how about Michael Jordan suffering from the flu and vomiting all the way up until game time, only to score 38 points, 15 in the fourth quarter, including a three-pointer with 25 seconds left to capture Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals and put the Chicago Bulls up 3-2 in the series over the Utah Jazz. And as a New York Yankee fan, how could I forget Curt Schilling's performance on the mound for the Boston Red Sox last year pitching seven strong innings with a stitched-up ankle to force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Yet, Sports Illustrated recently ranked Willis Reed's performance in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals as the number one playing with pain moment of all-time. Why? Reed, who also won the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award that year, was forced out during Game Number 5 of that series with the Lakers by a muscle injury in his right thigh. Yet, with Reed sidelined, the Knicks came from 16 points down to defeat the Lakers. Reed then sat out Game Number 6 due to his injured leg, and the Knicks would lose at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles to tie the series up 3-3.

Before Game 7, Reed underwent two days of intense treatment with the New York Knick's team doctor James Parkes. Then before the game, he was given shots of carocaine and cortosone to numb the injured leg. Reed would start Game 7, but only played fifteen minutes and scored four points on five shot attempts. Yet, the story has been told that Willis Reed's courageous attempt at playing that game helped motivate the Knicks who went on to win their first-ever NBA Championship in franchise history.

But how come nobody talks about how the New York Knicks were able to catch fire early on in that game, and take a 29-point lead at halftime. Why isn't Walt Frazier praised for his performance in Game 7? Frazier scored 36 points on 12 of 17 shooting from the field and went a perfect 12 of 12 from the foul line. Frazier also tied Bob Cousy and Wilt Chamberlain for a playoff record 19 assists in the victory. How about the role players Dave DeBusschere and Bill Bradley? DeBusschere had 18 points and 17 rebounds, while Bradley poured in 17. And defensively, New York's Dick Barnett helped shut down the previous NBA Finals MVP Jerry West, holding West to 9 of 19 shooting from the field.

My biggest problem with the sports media, is they continue to want to add drama where it isn't needed. Game 7's should be all the drama that's needed. It's win or go home. It's the most dominate player in the game against the defending NBA Champions. Today the drama continues. Wade gets praised for giving it his best, and he deserves credit for playing better than most would have expected. He scored 20 points, including an impressive 12-point effort in the third-quarter, but went cold from the field for the last fifteen minutes of the game. But where is the praise for Detroit's Rasheed Wallace today. 20 points on 8 of 13 shooting from the field and 7 boards. Plus, Wallace hit two crucial go-ahead free-throws with 1:26 remaining, before following up a Tayshaun Prince missed layup to put the Pistons up by three with about a minute to go. The man the media was doubting heading into Game 7 proved everyone wrong. That should be the story today.

Honestly, the media and the NBA wanted Miami to move on to face San Antonio, because unfortunately they got stuck with San Antonio. But they wanted Shaq and Duncan for the first-time ever in the NBA Finals. They wanted to showcase their next superstar Dwyane Wade on their biggest platform of the year. They wanted to see relentless defense against explosive offense. Now instead, the league has to settle for low television ratings once again for seeing the Chauncey's, the Tayshaun's, the Manu's and the Bowen's battling for the trophy. And I couldn't be anymore happy.
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