Dear Mr. Stern,
I admit from the onset that this letter is whinny, even a bit egotistically presumptuous. After all, I love what you have done with the NBA. You have created a product fans can be proud of and excited to watch. Not something that is enjoyable as a nice diversion, but 82 games of high energy, don't want to miss action. I am fully converted. I fine myself in arguments with NBA detractors so heated you would think eternal issues were at stake. Plus, your way smarter than I am.So I say this as humbly and unbiased as possible.
Please don't screw the Hawks.
I am just getting it out there before the series starts so you know when I complain about the refs in the series, when I cry conspiracy theory, you can say I read your blog, and here is what we did to make sure Dwayne Wade got the calls of a man who punishes the lane and not the calls of a man who everyone wants to see go against LeBron in the second round. It could be like two things. Just enough so I know you're trying.
Because you have to admit; it is weird that super star calls exists so prevalently in the league. Sure, I may notice it more because my team does not have any superstars, but it is a real issue. People are talking about the refs as a legitimate factor in this series. What other sport has that? I actually think the umpires hate Alex Rodriguez, and I say that as one who hates Alex Rodriguez.
Of course, NBA officiating is probably the hardest to call correctly. And it is for all the reasons I love the sport, its pace, its athleticism, its skill. And those superstars are the quickest, most explosive of the bunch. It all makes the game very difficult to please everyone. I am really only good at seeing the fouls committed by the other team...and travels. I have an eagle eye for travels.
The point is I get all that. I just think Wade might be good enough on his own to beat the Hawks, and if he can do it, it would be all the more impressive if I can't point to the time the Heat were down one and won the game on two Wade free throws for a foul I never saw. Because when that happens, all the talking heads in the world yelling and arguing and writing do not keep my team playing. They just make me dislike the game I love.
I was watching this segment on ESPN about how good a shot blocker Mr. Wade is. They probably ran through 12 terrific blocks. The problem was he clearly fouled the guy on at least three of them. You may say I am being nit picky, but it is weird that a guy's career foul rate can rise from 39.3 for his regular season career to 49.8 in the playoffs (HT Hoopinion). And you really just do not need stats when you see it happen again and again. You do not need to be long winded when people who disagree with use arguments like "he earned it" instead of "your wrong."
See, I am bad loser. I can even be a bad fan, a whiner, but right now I think they give Wade foul calls he doesn't deserve. That is good and fine in the regular season. Superstars can "earn" those calls then, but everyone earned a spot in the playoffs, including fans. I did not attend, talk about, and write for 82 games to give way to the "right" of the superstar come playoff time.
I still expect Dwayne to head to the line a lot. It is his style. I get that. I predict he dominates a game or two. He is that good. I am just asking that outside sources do not make him better. It cheapens the whole thing. And with that I sign off saying, I could not be more excited about this series, well that, and go Hawks of course!
Love your body,