For anyone who isn't from the San Antonio area, Wednesday's game was a brutal blow for NBA fans and probably shattered David Stern's invincible reign as dictator-for-life of the NBA.
The Suns, playing essentially a six-man rotation, gave heavy minutes to Kurt Thomas and James Jones. The Suns fought valiantly, but as the game progressed, you could see the Suns just totally wear down. They couldn't get any lift in the 4th quarter and died just before reaching the finish line. Is there any team in the NBA that has ever gotten screwed more brutally and consistently in the playoffs than the Suns of recent years?
This is the worst possible scenario that could have happened for Stern. If Phoenix had been blown out by 20, people would have still been pissed, but our guess is not by quite as much. Huge losses are often easier to swallow than close gut-wrenching ones. Instead, we got a game that the Spurs barely won, and it was clear to EVERYONE that saw this game, including the Spurs, that had either Diaw or Stoudemire (or both) played the Suns would have won this game handily. Even more terrible was the fact that Bruce Bowen, a guy who should have already been suspended at least once in this series (way to miss that suspension Stern) and is unquestionably the dirtiest player in the league, hit a killer 3 for the Spurs with 36 seconds remaining.
While you can't really blame the Spurs for winning the game, since that's what they're paid to do, you sure as hell can blame Stern for letting this scenario happen.
And by the way, let's also be sure to mention that Stern was scheduled to be in Phoenix for Game 5. After spending all day justifying his suspensions on PTI and Dan Patrick's radio show (where he lost his cool), he got cold feet and decided to attend the Cavs/Nets abomination instead. So we'll just go ahead and say what everyone else is thinking right now: Stern is a humungous coward. He's going to fold faster than Superman on laundry day (thank you Simpsons) at the first owners meeting after the season ends.
Even worse for Stern is that the playoffs have begun to descend into a total crapfest. The most exciting team to watch, our Warriors, are now gone. The Cavs/Nets series is a completely unwatchable nightmare and the Bulls/Pistons series lost almost all viewers after the Pistons went up 3-0. Even with the Bulls having won the last 2 games hardly anyone's watching because it's only a matter of time before the Pistons win. Stern had a chance to save the playoffs by letting Amare and Diaw (or at least one of them) keep playing. Instead he single-handedly destroyed the only good series left in the playoffs. It's every NBA fan's duty (except maybe Spurs fans) to make sure he never forgets that.
And as for the Spurs. You're not escaping our wrath either. We're not going to blame you for winning the game, but you sure as hell didn't deserve it, and that sticks in everyone's minds. So what we're going to do is give you guys a huge asterisk. That's right, just like Roger Maris. Just like people have already done for Barry Bonds. If you guys go on to win the NBA Championship, you can bet that no one outside of San Antonio is going to take it seriously, since the key game that helped you get there was given to you by Stern, a jackass bit player and an antiquated, illogical rule. No one's going to forget that you didn't earn it.
That's your burden to bear, be it fair or not. Essentially, you've already lost.