As Sam Sees It

Play-off basketball, NBA style, is not something this reporter finds something compelling to watch.

The recently concluded series between the Sacramento Kings and the Utah Jazz attracted much attention from my household because of the presence of Sacramento point guard Mike Bibby. Bibby played high school basketball for my brother at Shadow Mountain High School in Phoenix. Like many of the Kings, he is basically a finesse player. That type of player doesn’t usually fare well in play-off style basketball, though the television commentators seem impressed with his ability and his composure.

Bibby was one of several players who sustained injury during that series. Play near the basket resembled a rugby scrum or an off-tackle plunge in the NFL rather than a basketball game. There were more one on one wrestling moves than slick basketball ones.

This series was, unfortunately, not unique. This has become the style that is expected in the play-offs and the knock on teams that play basketball is that they are “not tough enough.” It is a phenomenon that has drifted down to the college level, especially during the NCAA Tournament. In fact, more than a few superior basketball teams have been ousted by teams that commit fouls on virtually every trip down the court knowing that officials are not going to call them all. It seems that fewer and fewer actual hard fouls are called.

There is some evidence that this style has crept into high school play. Again, the allowance of extra latitude to teams that play “aggressively” is more prevalent in the play-offs than in the regular season.

The cure is obvious, no matter what level of basketball is being discussed. Call the game the way the rulebook describes it. We don’t need a rule change. We just need the present rules to be enforced. Players who have made their livings and reputations by roughing up opponents will either learn to change or be forced to find a new profession.

The winners, if this happens, will be the fans. Indeed, the NBA may eventually win back the many fans it has lost in recent years and gain some, like myself, who are luke-warm at best about this game as it is presently played.

Congratulations to Winslow High School coaches Art Griffith (baseball), Lynn Sawyer and Becky Barris (softball) on being named Enchantment Region Coaches of the Year for their sports and winning regional championships in both sports.

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