Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Game 3: A view from the Sun Porch

I was struggling to come up with ideas for today’s column, so I figured I do what I always do when I need an idea: rip off Bill Simmons. So, with Game 3 of the Finals tonight, I figured I’d keep a running diary of all the happenings here at the WAD Palace (a/k/a The Sun-Porch). So, with a little help from my esteemed roommate, Hans, here’s how it all went down on Tuesday night:

9:02 – Welcome to South Buckhead, and the infamous sun-porch. I’m firmly situated on the loveseat, and Hans is on the big couch. Life as usual in sun-porch land.

9:07 – We have our first Michael McDonald sighting since “The 40 Year Old Virgin.” Twice in one year…don’t call it a comeback!

9:08 – Dirk has his hand over his heart during our national anthem. Just one more reason to love this guy, he makes American dollars, so he loves America. What more could you ask for?

9:20 – Exactly 13 minutes after the national anthem, and we finally have tip-off. Are we watching a basketball game or a hip hop concert? If Michael Jordan is not involved, I don’t need to see a dramatic pre-game.

9:21 – Shaq takes Diop strong to the hole. Good sign for the Heat.

9:23 – More Shaq.

9:24 – Diop heads to the bench. Shaq looks intense. We could be in store for a throwback night.

9:26 – Shaq strips J.T. leading to a J. Will (the redneck, not the murderer) lay-up. Less than five minutes in, and Shaq and D. Wade have 11 of the Heat’s 13 points.

9:29 – The Braves are getting drilled 4-1 by the freaking Marlins on Big Screen No. 2 right now, in case you cared. Oh, and Mike from Moondogs is pitching. Awesome!

9:31 – Shaq has three assists in five and a half minutes. I’m now embarking on a web search to find out if he’s ever had a triple double in the playoffs.

9:35 – D. Wade just fouled Stackhouse on a three point attempt. I mean, he’s one of the three best players in the world right now, I just figured he would know by now that you shouldn’t do that. Stupid me.

9:37 – Devon Harris just did everything but sexually assault Shaq, and no intentional foul was called. In fact, Mike Breen, the guy that talks when Hubie Brown is not talking to himself, said, “no way that should have been an intentional. That was just a good hard foul.” I’m going out on a limb here, one of two things is going on: 1) Mike Breen is an unabashed moron; or 2) Mike Breen has loads of cash on the Mavs +4. Either way, I have no use for him.

9:40 – Shaq just pushes Dampier in the back for no apparent reason while The Damp Man (I just made that up, I think it’s catchy) flushes. It was as if Shaq was just saying, “I’m the Diesel. If I want to push you, I will push you.” I support that.

9:44 – Let me see if I’ve got this right, Pat Riley just explained that the Heat carry around a pink laminated card that says “15 Strong”? Again, two things here: 1) The card is pink; and 2) There are only 12 players on a team, so Riley is clearly including himself in the “15 strong” equation. Of course he is. I guess you can do that when you have four rings, but it doesn’t change the fact that I loathe him.

9:46 - We have our first Keith Van Horn citing. Okay, two more things: 1) I can’t believe he’s actually logging minutes in the NBA Finals; and 2) I can’t see Van Horn and not think of The Cheetah…don’t ask!

9:47 - Hubie Brown: Stop jumping in the air to make the pass…see…see what happens?
Hans: I’m about to punch Hubie Brown.

9:47 - The Braves just lost. Is it time to start considering doing Smoltzy a favor and trading him to a contender? Is it too early? Don’t we owe him that much if he wants it? How did we only win one World Series? Could somebody pass me the bourbon?

9:48 - Mark Cuban looks very creepy blowing into The Damp Man’s ear.

9:50- D. Wade goes coast to coast as fast and as and as smooth as anyone since Isiah. Not to mention he’s the most un-guardable player not named Jordan since Bernard King. I know that most of you have no idea who Bernard King is, but just trust me on this one. If you don’t believe me, call me. I have some old Beta Max tapes to prove it.

9:51- The first quarter just ended, Hans pressed the “live” button, and I realized we were about two minutes behind the live action. I’m despondent. I don’t care about the fact that the running diary is off by two minutes, I just hate watching sports on a tape delay. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves, and I have a ton!

9:58- Sorry, I’ve been watching poker for the last few minutes on Big Screen No. 2, but it bears mentioning that the Heat had taken a 10 point lead, and the refs just called a 3 second violation on Shaq, and a Technical on Payton in a 20 second span. All I can say is, Ladies and Gentleman, playing the part of Dick Bavetta tonight will be Jack Nies. Yes, the father of that complete tool from “The Real World I” and “The Grind.”

10:00- Not only has Jack Nies failed as a father, but he has also enabled an 8-0 Mavs’ run. The Commissioner undoubtedly has a huge smile on his face right now!

10:05- Wade has 15 and Shaq has 10 with 7 ½ to play in the half, and the Heat are only up two. In case you weren’t sure, that’s not a good sign.

10:06- Another 3 second call on Shaq.

10:07- Hubie and Breenie debate whether Wade should be shooting two or if he was fouled on the floor. We have now heard all three officials referred to by name. And no, that’s not a good thing.

10:09 – The third 3 second call on Shaq! I’m teetering on the edge of a complete melt down right now. This is outrageous. We now have two more 3 second violations in the last 3 minutes than these guys have called all season. What kills me is that come the second half, when the game is outside the prime time t.v. hours, Shaq will be able to pitch a tent and build a fire in the lane, and these guys won’t call a thing. As long as we are in primetime, however, the whole rule book will be utilized to keep this thing close.

10:10 - Am I the only one that didn’t realize that Vin Diesel is returning to the mix in “Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Nights”? How did I miss this? Needless to say, I now have plans for Friday night!

10:13 – Ana Kournikova is absurdly hot. Seriously, it’s just stupid!

10:15- Just caught the highlight of Manny’s eighth inning catch to preserve the tie in Minnesota. How have the Sox not found a way to make him the DH? Is Big Papi really worse defensively at first than Manny is in left? Is this possible? Regardless, I love Manny. He’s undoubtedly my favorite non-brave not named Griffey.

10:22- We just came back from break, and we are greeted by Dan Patrick, Mark Jackson, and Mike Wilbon. Three years ago, I would have said that these were three of my favorite people involved in sports. Now, I can only say that for two of these guys. Am I the only one that gets the sense that Dan Patrick isn’t half as intelligent or cool as he thinks he is? Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m off the bandwagon.

10:24 – Dirk missed a free throw, but wait a minute, we’ve got a lane violation on the Big Kidney. So, let’s recap…we aren’t even to halftime yet, and the Heat have been called for a lane violation, three 3 second violations, and two technicals. No wonder they are only up five.

10:25- Nice dunk Stackhouse. That ball must have bounced 12 feet in the air. Very impressive.

10:27- Don’t look now, but D. Wade is on his way to the kind of night that creates legends. Not only does he already have 21, but he just looks a step faster and quicker than everybody else on the floor. He just gets to the basket at will.

10:29- The officials must have also noticed that Wade can’t be stopped because they just saddled him with a cheap third foul less than a minute before halftime. This is out of control. I just wonder if the rest of America is as infuriated as I am.

10:30- Halftime. Thank Goodness, I’ve got some seriously important stuff to do.

10:52 – After 20 minutes of seriously important stuff, I settle back into my seat to see that the Mavs have scored five unanswered to cut the Heat lead to four. By the way, my internet is not working, and it’s making my life miserable. For example, I still have no idea if Shaq has ever had a triple double in the playoffs. Not to mention that I have no idea whether he has a chance for one in this game because ABC is less likely to show stats than the U.S. is to negotiate with terrorists.

10:55 – Dirk is heating up. 54 – 51 Heat with 9:45 to play in the third.

10:56- This is simply amazing, they just called a carry on the Mavs. Now that we are four minutes from exiting primetime, the refs have switched into “make sure this thing goes at least six games” mode. Since I’m rooting for the Heat, I’m happy about this.

11:02 – Breenie (yes, Mike Breen is now officially known as Breenie) just said that Adrian Griffin is the “ultimate intangible player.’ That actually translates to “this guy has absolutely no business playing the NBA Finals.”

11:04 - Holy Crap! It must be 1996, and Antoine Walker is leading the Kentucky Wildcats to the NCAA Title all over again. Seriously, he’s unconscious. Enjoy it while you can, because this actually has the potential to prove disastrous for the Heat. Like, in the 4th quarter when he can’t throw it in the ocean and keeps shooting. Put this on the list of things I wish I owned stock in. There will undoubtedly come a time in this game where ‘Toine misses no less than five shots in a row.

11:08 - Breenie just said that Stan Van Gundy resigned for “family reasons.” And yes, I also believe Mischa Barton left “The O.C.” on her own terms.

11:09 - Dallas explodes out of the timeout with four straight points to regain the lead. You know, there is a reason why people think Avery Johnson is a tremendous coach, and this is one of them. They started the half with five unanswered, and they always come out of timeouts with a spurt. If you know nothing else about basketball, you should know that is a sign of a good coach. I mean, when was the last time Boston College came out a timeout with four straight points? I’m just saying.

11:10 - D. Wade is AWESOME!!!!

11:13- We just swung it over to Stu Scott, so I turned my eyes over to the highlights of Vernon Wells hitting homeruns on Baseball Tonight on Big Screen No. 2. Yes, I traded Vernon Wells for Billy Wagner in The WAD fantasy league. By the way, the Mavs look like they might run away with this game. My head is actually exploding as I type this.

11:15 - Hans just made the most astute observation of the night: “The only way this all white shirt thing would work is if they had firemen out there hosing down all the women.” I nominate Hans as the next head of marketing for The Heat.

11:17 - Breenie just said that Josh Howard was the last pick of the 2003 draft!!! That can’t be true can it? Normally, I would just jump over to Google and find out, but have I mentioned that Comcast internet sucks?

11:20 - The Mavs are pulling away, so its time for Hans and I to find a way to amuse ourselves, which of course means we decided to gamble. Here’s our wager: If Tiger wins the Open, I win $100. If the Big Left Handed Fraud wins the Open, Hans wins $100. If anybody other than Tiger or The Fraud wins the Open, we push. This bet was made after Hans declared that this weekend marked the third leg of the Lefty Slam. After a ridiculous statement like that, he had no choice but to agree to my terms.

11:22 - 10 years ago, I sat in Rupp Arena and watched The Damp Man lead his Mississippi State Bulldogs to an upset win over UConn in the Sweet 16 en route to the Final Four. At the time, I told my future brother in law that “Dampier is going to be a stud in the NBA!” Well, it took ten years, but after his dominance of the last four minutes of the third quarter, I feel vindicated. Let this be a lesson: I never concede defeat until I absolutely have to. Mavs up 9 after three.

11:28 - D. Wade opens up the fourth with a three. I just went and put my white t-shirt on. Let’s Go Heat!

11:29 - With 11 minutes left in the fourth, they just called Wade for his fifth foul. Only problem is that he didn’t foul anybody. I’m done trying to figure out NBA officials. They are horrible.

11:32 - Timeout Heat. 8:34 left in the fourth, and the Mavs are up 12. Oh, and in case you are counting at home, ‘Toine has missed his last two shots, both of which were simply atrocious.

11:34 - This just breaking on Big Screen No. 2, Roethlisberger has never had a license to drive a motorcycle. If the refs hadn’t stolen the Super Bowl from the Seahawks, he would be about 15 months away from joining J.J. Reddick and David Hasselhoff in the cast of Surreal Life 19.

11:37 - Shaq just scored his first basket in the last two hours. Only down 8 with 7 to play.

11:38 - Just saw the Mets highlights on No. 2. They are now 17 games over .500. If they win the World Series, I’m officially giving up my sports fan membership card.

11:45 - Remember what I said about D. Wade possibly having one of those games that gives birth to a legend? Well, we aren’t there yet, but we are getting closer. He is single handedly keeping The Heat in this thing. He’s got 37 and 11 with just over 4 to play, and he’s playing on a gimpy left knee. And, most importantly, he’s demanding the ball. If you don’t love D. Wade, you don’t love basketball. I’m getting excited!!! By the way, ‘Toine hasn’t seen the floor in over four minutes. Accident? I think not!

11:49 - D. WADE!!!

11:50 – Now the refs get it! Moving screen on the Diggler. 3 point game with just over 3 to play.

11:51 – Tiger is talking on No. 2 right now. I hope nobody tells him about my bet. I don’t want him to feel any added pressure.

11:53 - Shaq just pushed The Damp Man square in the back, but no call. Then, he hits two free throws. I CAN DIG IT!!!

11:55 - D. WADE!!! 41 points, 11 boards! 1 point game with 1:15 to play.

11:56 - UUUUUUUUUDONIS. I’m losing my mind right now. I’m making absolutely no sense whatsoever. Heat lead by 1 with 1:03 to play. American Airlines is going insane right now. White shirts are bouncing all over the place, strippers are dancing all over the court. It’s complete pandemonium.

11:59 - The refs just completed invented a foul against Jason Terry. Well done boys. Avery Johnson looks a little homicidal.

12:01 - Holy Shit….Gary Payton lives!!! Are you kidding me? His first shot of the night, and he’s cash. Shaq started the game in throwback mode, and G.P. is finishing it throwback style. Almost as dramatic as Payton’s shot was Mark Cuban inexplicably screaming for a travel in the background. Classic. I love Cuban. Hell, there isn’t anybody I don’t like in this series. Just good times all around.

12:04 - The Diggler missed! WOW! Then, D. Wade comes out of NOWHERE to rip down a big time board. What doesn’t he do? He’s got 41 and 13, and he’s played the last 11 minutes with five fouls! Seriously, we are witnessing the birth of a legend. I hope everybody is appreciating what you are seeing. This just doesn’t happen every day.

12:06 - Okay, so one thing he doesn’t do is make all his free throws. He missed the second (his 5th miss of the night), and gave the Mavs new life. I’m officially scared. I think I may have jinxed Wade. They can’t lose this game. I will feel personally responsible. I can’t live with that guilt.

12:07 - The Mavs run a beautiful lob play to the rim, but it’s broken up by…..D. WADE!!! Who else? Can you remember the last time you saw a guy single handedly will his team to victory on this stage? I can. It was June of 1998, and the guy was the greatest player to ever live. So, I’m going to say it one more time: Dwyane Wade is the most special of special players. Whether they win this series or not, I will never forget what he did tonight in Game 3. I feel lucky to have watched it.