By: Frank Hyden
I was going to wait for the Game 4’s today to make this update but I think what happened yesterday warrants this.
The Boston Celtics eliminated the Philadelphia 76ers 4-0. Philly was obviously hamstrung by Ben Simmons not being there but they would have lose the series regardless of if he was there nor not. I think they could have maybe won 2 games, but they were still losing. This team is flawed. They’re going to get rid of Brett Brown, their head coach, but they’re not going to be able to make any big roster moves most likely. They have talent, with Joel Embiid and Simmons and Tobias Harris and Al Horford. They just can’t put it together. Now some of that is coaching but some is also the players. I don’t know who they get to be the new coach but best case scenario next season is probably getting to the second round, maybe.
The Toronto Raptors also swept the Brooklyn Nets 4-0. This is different from the 76ers as the Nets were decimated by injuries and the pandemic. A healthy Kevin Durant and possible a healthy Kyrie Irving (who knows with him, he always gets injured it seems) will make a world of difference.
The other matchups are the Utah Jazz leading the Denver Nuggets 3-1 and the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks being tied 2-2. I want to address the Montrezl Harrell comments to Luka Doncic during Game 3 of that series. Harrell called Luka a bitch ass white boy. That’s just wrong, and going by the NBA’s own standards, Harrell should have been suspended. That was racism, plain and simple. Do I think Harrell should be banished from the NBA and cast aside or anything like that? Of course not, that would be crazy. However, what he said is racist. There’s no way around that. What he said is disgusting. I’ve followed Montrezl since he played at Louisville and I’ve always appreciated the things he brought to the table like hustle, defense, rebounding, etc.
Saying what he did makes you wonder what his real feelings about white people are? I get that it was heat of the moment and all that, but you don’t say things in the heat of the moment that you haven’t said or thought before. It’s just that when you’re in the heat of the moment, whatever stops you from saying that stuff isn’t there. That’s why I like seeing people outside of their comfort zone because it reveals their true nature. It’s like that saying, “Adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it.”
I bring this up not to castigate Montrezl, but to illustrate that people of all groups have biases. Instead of brushing this off because it was a black man saying that to a white man or even defending it, we should use this as a teachable moment. Instead of getting further entrenched in our divisions, we should use this to try to bridge the gap between us.
It was disheartening to see people defending and excusing Montrezl’s comments, especially when you know that if the roles were reversed, those people would be calling for Luka to be suspended or banned from the league. Just as it was disheartening to see people attacking his comments and saying he should be thrown out of the league when you know that if the roles were reversed they would be doing all sorts of mental gymnastics to try to defend a white person saying that.
One of my biggest pet peeves is hypocrisy. I value consistency. I think you should feel the same way about an issue regardless of whether the offender looks like you or not. That’s the true test of integrity. If something is wrong, it’s wrong no matter who the person is.
Anyway, back to the games. Luka nailed a buzzer beater in overtime to take Game 4 and tie the series. It was an incredible moment brilliantly called by Mike Breen. It was also the capper to the second straight triple double Luka had. He had 43 points, 17 rebounds, and 13 assists. It was an amazing performance and one I’m glad I was able to see.
As for the Jazz-Nuggets game, it was also a thing of beauty. Donovan Mitchell had 51 points and 7 assists. This is his second 50-point game of the series. That’s crazy. And Jamal Murray had 50 points, 11 recounds, and 7 assists of his own. Mitchell joined Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson as the only players to score 50+ in the same series twice. This is also the first time two opponents each scored 50+ in the same playoff game. This was incredible.
So, like I said above, I was going to wait until the Game 4’s today to do this update but man, this was a great day of basketball so I couldn’t wait.
Comments and suggestions can be emailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow me on Twitter at @hydenfrank