Y’all can have your Sky Walkers and Splash Brothers.
I’ll always believe the best move in basketball is the one that makes your opponent react to what you DON’T do.
Sheer athleticism, other-worldly “touch” that emanates from some zone constructed of muscle memory, Maravichian ball-handling. Such coordination, quickness or hops are rare physical gifts.
But the instantaneous recognition and “been there, done that” composure that keeps those certain few always one step and two thoughts ahead of the other guy?
There’s a scratch to any true fan’s hoops itch.
Paul Pierce was one of those players … see an advantage and cash in before the opposition can say “Oops!” Larry and Magic could do that. It’s why they called Cousy the Houdini of the Hardwood, the edge Russell always had.
The rarest of basketball gifts, more than a zone, it’s attitude, habit, an ever-present mindset…
… almost as if the basketball gods have anointed these particular players.
I can’t help but wonder if those same basketball gods weren’t delivering some Truth of their own as time expired on Paul and his Wizards a couple of weeks ago.
The willing face of his team this post-season, Pierce didn’t back away from acknowledging the wear-and-tear the grind of a long NBA season was taking on a 37-year-old body.
The playoff match-ups were laid out perfectly – the darlings of the Northland, then the New Kids on the Block. Ideal “baby-faces” for such a Cerebral Assassin. His ostentatious swagger kept the pressure off young studs John Wall and Bradley Beal.
And has anyone else ever taken a game-determining shot on his team’s final possession in three of the last four games of any other playoff series – and tickled the twines each time?
Was it fate that caused ESPN’s Chris Broussard to set him up for a sound byte for the ages – “I called ‘game!’” – and was it destined that the ultimate shot would come a split tenth of a second after time expired?
There has been speculation aplenty, from pundits and players alike, since that untimeliest of buzzers ended the Wizards’ title quest. What’s the next landing post for Pierce?
A continuing mentorship for these evolving Wizards?
A return to his roots in Boston, ala ex-teammate KG?
A return home to LA, ala perennial rival King James?
A spot role with a genuine contender in a run for one more ring?
Or maybe a LA-Z-Boy?
The powers-that-be smiled upon our Paul at the close of Game 3. (Do you really think he was using the glass? From that angle?)
They then teased him two games later, even inducing a premature boast.
And finally they thwarted his will and skill through time and technology.
Was that Ball that Don’t Lie telling the Truth – to say good-bye?