Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`Knuckleheads' No Match for Nba's Real Deal

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`Knuckleheads' No Match for Nba's Real Deal

Article excerpt

The NBA semifinals are all but set: New York vs. Chicago in the East, Houston vs. Utah in the West.

Thank goodness.

We're safe. Home free. The rest of the NBA postseason is your basic Anti-Knucklehead Tournament. The NBA title will be decided by real men, who know how to play basketball. Oh, author Dennis Rodman is still doing a parody of himself in Chicago, and every circus needs one freak. But, for the most part, the spoiled brats have been chased out of the arena by their elders. Pouty Nick Van Exel? See ya. Time for Shaquille O'Neal to be cast in another bad movie. The Seattle SuperSonics can go get their rabies shots now. The Orlando Magic need a coach so point guard Penny Hardaway can do what he does best: hire and fire his own boss. Outta here. Please just go. Nothing personal. There's a party going on out there. Just find it. Have some fun. Spend some money. Add another hanger-on to the posse. Go make another commercial. Whatever. Let the basketball purists enjoy the final month of the season. It should be a pleasant experience. Chicago is Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. New York is Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley. Utah is Karl Malone and John Stockton. Houston is Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley and Clyde Drexler. This group won't cheat the fans. These legends want to win. They come to play, throw their bodies around, compete like crazy. They believe in hustle and teamwork and finding the open man. These players elevate the game and raise the game's standards. These true stars and their teams represent the vanishing ideal. And it's satisfying that these qualities - even in a diminished state - still have the potency to overcome the NBA's inattentive frauds. Character prevailed. The NBA has become increasingly unwatchable. I dearly love the game, but I was bored by the 1996-97 season. Scoring was down, and the egos went up. Only eight teams averaged at least 100 points per game; that's five fewer teams than last season. …

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