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Thursday, May 17, 2001
Updated: September 13, 6:43 PM ET
Truths, lies and myths
about NBA playoffs


By Ralph Wiley
Page 2 columnist

Once again, Road Dog and R-Dub expose themselves, or at least their innermost thoughts, about the NBA playoffs:

Webber exits Sacramento, stage left
Chris Webber
Despite pleas from Kings fans, Chris Webber is as good as gone.
Road Dog Thought Balloon: Not a tough call. C-Webb is gone, big-time.

R-Dub Thought Balloon: Yeah, but wherever C-Webb goes, there he'll still be. Webber is going to go wherever he sees A Road Map to Easy Winning. And that's always a mirage. He has been looking for a Road Map since he went to Michigan as part of the Fab Five; supposed to be a cinch NCAA title deal. Didn't happen. Bet he'd like to go to L.A., play with Shaq and Kobe. Never mind that Webb is one of few in the game who can give Shaq a game -- take him perimeter, use those hands to quick-dunk and quick-board Shaq. Webber was strangely off his game in Game 4 of the Sac-L.A. series. Where'll he go? Detroit? New York? Orlando? Philly? He'll go where the onus is on someone else.

The vulcanizing of Jason Williams
Road Dog Thought Balloon: J-Will is a head case, they say. Me, I wouldn't doubt it. I know Stef, see. Boy's got mad skills, but his happy-go-lucky treatment of precious playoff possessions has gots to go if he ever wanna be more than some sideshow. Got the game. Seem like he just want to clown his way through.

R-Dub Thought Balloon: Used to love to watch him play. The vision, handle, the imagination. But those ill-advised decisions, like going to rack against Shaq with a game on the line and trying a floater? That gets old quick. No wonder Adelman sat him for back-up Bobby Jackson. J-Will decried this. Big surprise there.

Jason Williams
The Kings' Jason Williams might be trying a little too hard to fit in.
J-Will. C'mon, bro-ski. Cursing out the Asian fans? Let it go.

Jason sort of reminds me of the black kid at Harvard trying too hard to fit in. He has the brain (the game) but wants the comfort level in the world he has chosen -- or that God chose for him. So he changes not just his speech, but his voice, maybe adopting a Larchmont Lurch, or a Brahmin Belch. Gets himself a proper girl friend -- one that others might like, before thinking of himself. Maybe her name is Buffy or something. He changes his dress, goes straight chinos and topsiders, no socks, and a polo, and he begins to decry social programs. Same thing in ball. Maybe Jason is just trying too hard to be a brother. Hey, J-Will, your game makes you a brother. So ease down. Ease down.

He feels he's adapting to his environment. Seen it before, with Rex Chapman, even Detleft Schrempf. This is their world, and it seems black, and they're going to find comfort in it. But in the end it kind of limited them, being derivative; never got the feeling either Rex or Det was as good as he might have been if he hadn't tried to "assimilate," so to speak.

Better to be natural, just let it flow. Larry Bird, for example, his game was purer -- more his own, so to speak. The Eastern Europeans are like that. They don't care. They ain't trying to fit. They're trying to stick it in your ear, and you'd better bring your A game, or they will, and some nights they will anyway. Look at Vlade, Peja and Turkoglu on the same squad. Pow, pow, pow.

Does a lack of Jordan make you dream?
Road Dog Thought Balloon: I don't dream. I'm a proctologist.

R-Dub Thought Balloon: Dog means "pragmatist." Kobe is Jordan, in his own strange (to us) new way.

The NBA playoff MVP (though the second round)
Tim Duncan
Maybe you haven't noticed, but Tim Duncan has been the best player in the playoffs.
  1. Tim Be Dunkin'
  2. Monster Mash
  3. A.I.
  4. Shaq Fu Daddy
  5. Kobe
  6. Vinsanity
  7. Mt. Mutombo
  8. LeBaron
  9. The Admiral
  10. Fill in Your Own Absurd Pick & Submit It To ESPN.com's Page 2 Crew for (Perhaps) Fabulous Prizes!

Road Dog Thought Balloon: Right names, wrong order. A.I. is the Man. But Dub is right about Duncan. Dude need him some hype, some blowing up, some p.r. bad. Wonder who's gonna hook him up?

R-Dub Thought Balloon: It's my list. And what a good list. And the big guy at the top of good list, Tim Duncan, needs Rogers & Cowan or some big p.r. firm to take his case. Dude does need a press release:

Most eye-opening player second round
Road Dog Thought Balloon: Easy. Easy Eddie Robinson, with them mad hops and that syrupy smooth killa game. The Hornets take out Monster Mash, whose been killing everybody, then hit you with this guy, and he's falling out of the sky. Every night. Can score 10 points just by accident. Ball magnet.

R-Dub Thought Balloon: TURKO-LOU. He dropped a very cool 22 in 25 minutes on Kobe and Lakers in Game 4, and almost couldn't believe it himself. But that's the highest level of ball there is on earth, Turk, and you dropped 22. In fact, he might've had 24, or even 30 if the game had gone into OT. But ...

Stop-the-insanity play on D
Eddie Robinson
Charlotte's Eddie Robinson is the real stuff.
Road Dog Thought Balloon: Rick Fox closing out on Peja. Didn't know The Actor had it in him.

R-Dub Thought BalloonL Robert Horry blocked Turkoglu's trapeze dunk, which would have brought the Kings to within one in the final minute of Game 4. Turk couldn't believe that dunk could get blocked, but that's NBA playoff level D. A dunk will get blocked every time if you don't come correct with it.

Least watchable playoff player
R-Dub Thought Balloon: Horry, other than the blocked dunk. Or Childs.

Road Dog Thought Balloon: Oakley, flopping all over the place.

Most watchable playoff player
R-Dub Thought Balloon: Antonio Davis, horsing the boards, jump-shooting over Mutombo, blocking shots, making himself just as valuable a free-agent commodity as Webber. Maybe more so, really.

Road Dog Thought Balloon: No way Joe-sy. Mash. Monster Mash. Graveyard smash. All the way. Buried the Heat. Now 'scoping the Bucks. Got no answer for Jamal Mashburn. Like butter. All day.

Most incredible shrinking playoff player
R-Dub Thought Balloon: Horace Grant. Fork him -- he's done.

Road Dog Thought Balloon: Tyrone Hill, when Oakley's around.

Best coaching job of playoffs so far
Road Dog Thought Balloon: Lenny.

R-Dub Thought Balloon: Silas, so far. But Brown and Phil will probably catch up.

Three games on Mother's Day?! That's way too many NBA playoff games!
Road Dog Thought Balloon: Three games is too many? Compared to what? Three baseball games? Three episodes of Will & Grace? What? My moms didn't mind. She could take me one-on-one 'til I was 15.

Jamal Mashburn
Jamal Mashburn has been unstoppable for the Hornets.
R-Dub Thought Ballon: Well I don't know about that. My mom? She's a great old gal. Masters degree, English supervision and curriculum. But I bet I wouldn't want to watch her teach it on television.

Here's my thing. What are my alternatives? Day of the Triffids on Sci-Fi? A butchered-up version of some classic movie on a channel that can't decide if it's cable TV or some Christian crusade? The woman from Brooklyn with the Jamaican accent who spews universal facts of romantic life and has everybody thinking she's some kind of seer? The McLaughlin Group? CNN? Larry King wrapping another celebrity in cotton? Cooking with Emeril? Please ... bring me the shock of the new, or the shock of the Charlotte Hornets.

Next season's possible playoff theme: On Golden Pond -- hated it!
Road Dog Thought Balloon: Old dudes like Jordan better think twice before coming back. Never known the game to go backward, skill-wise. All these young dudes, Vince Carter, Kobe Bryant, even Allen Iverson and Baron Davis, they learned by watching Jordan, and one way or another they are him, basically.

Some of 'em only got one or two of his traits. They can't maintain mind control over extended periods like He could. But when A.I. hits you for 54, or Vinsanity for 50, or Kobe for 48 and 16, or Shaq for 40 and 20 every night you don't double him, or Tim Be Dunkin' 30 and 20 every night even if you do double him -- ain't nothing wrong with none'a that. The young dudes are addin' it up, doin' the math. Baron was horrible in the first game of the Bucks' series. Now Sam Cassell and George Karl having 3-D nightmares about him.

R-Dub Thought Balloon: I've come to Black Jesus on this one. If he wants to play, then play. Why should be be any different from Mays, Ali, DiMaggio? What's the payoff in being an unconquered living legend like Jim Brown or Ted Williams?

If Mike doesn't want to chill, he doesn't have to chill. But when he comes back to face these young boys, how do you think they'll see him? Why, they'll see him as he once saw "them" -- that is, all other hoopers. They'll see him as prey. And they'll act accordingly. Jordan will be left babbling to himself, just as they always do when the game passes them by, as it always does.

Michael Jordan
How many guys will be out to one-up Michael Jordan if he returns? Plenty.
When the Hornets easily dismantled the Heat in the first round, Tim Hardaway, once a superb old school guard, now 35, complained that Baron was talking too much smack, trash-talking. Baron picked that up from Jordan, no doubt. But also, his Wraparound Dribble is as good a move as Hardaway's Crossover once was. Baron can execute the move at full speed, and his full speed is, like, gone.

Hardaway can't stay with Baron, horizontally or vertically. And it ain't gonna get no better. You'll get him next game? I don't think so. You'll only get progressively slower, while he'll get bigger, faster, stronger ... "Don't talk trash when you're leading by 20," Hardaway said. "Talk (trash) when it's in the nip-and-tuck, and I'll respect that."

Hey Timmy. The games start out Zero to Zero. That's about as nip-and-tuck as it gets. It wasn't Baron Davis' fault that the Hornets were soon up by double figures on the Heat, and later the Bucks.

On second though, maybe it was his fault, and Monster Mash's, and Eddie Rob's. Oh, they got a crew 2.

One NBA wag put it this way -- "Don't know if it's a good idea for the old dudes (Read Jordan, Barkley & Co.) to come back. Might end up with hurt feelings." Might? Our eyes are ever young, drawn to the quick, fast and strong. Our eyes are treacherous, too. They'll leave Michael Jordan. They will, I'm telling you.

Best NBA playoff theory, second round
Road Dog Thought Balloon: Teams that wins Game 5s control destiny. So why not have five-game series, all the way to conference finals? Somebody run that by Cat Daddy Stern, see what he say. I'm out.

R-Dub Thought Balloon: You'll never see NBA hoop evolve backward. Hawk and Elg begat Doc, who begat Jordan, who begat Kobe, Vince, KG, Baron, Iverson ... in the immortal words of Tupac Shakur (see Baron) "Bill Clinton, Mr. Bob Dole ... you too old to understand the way the game go."

And we do have a new kind of NBA Lift-Off here. Got us a Game again, people.

(Don'tcha wish you could get this kind of stuff on hockey? You can. Shake Ray Ferraro 'til he gives it up).

Ralph Wiley spent nine years at Sports Illustrated and wrote 28 cover stories on celebrity athletes. He is the author of several books, including "Best Seat in the House," "Born to Play: The Eric Davis Story," and "Serenity, A Boxing Memoir."