Single page view By Bill Simmons
Page 2

Just when I thought I was already excited for the 2005 NBA Finals, I received the following e-mail from Memphis reader Brad Baker:

Rasheed Wallace
Just the thought of passing on the belt gives Sheed the chills.

"If the Pistons lose, I think that Rasheed Wallace should be forced to hand over his belt to Tim Duncan while doing the whole 'I hate that I lost, but I respect you' handshake like Hogan at Wrestlemania 6. Then he could raise Duncan's hand in victory and be carried from the court in a miniature wrestling ring."

Needless to say, I'm now rooting for the Spurs. If the Pistons lose, Rasheed has to hand over the belt to Duncan. This needs to happen. It has to happen. And the scenario had me so fired up, I even kept a running diary of Game 1 last night:

9:15 – Some highlights from the Chevrolet NBA "Game Time" pregame show on ABC, which somehow managed to last 45 minutes …

1. Bill Walton praised the Pistons for a "remarkable ability to cut off the head off their opponent." Nice image.

2. Hubie Brown on the Pistons: "They are tunnel vision."

3. Not one but two pregame guests (Phil Jackson and Clyde Drexler) ducked chances to make a pick for the Finals. Thanks for coming on, guys.

4. We saw our first (and definitely not last) promo for the upcoming ABC mini-series "Empire." You're risking an emperor's life!

5. ABC's musical choice for the "Let's Get Excited for Game 1" goose-bump montage: Rob Thomas. Let's just say that he wouldn't have been my first choice … or my 1,500th. That was followed by Alanis Morissette's singing the national anthem – first we had a Canadian MVP, now we have Canadians singing our anthem before the NBA Finals? What's going on here?

6. Right before they introduced the starting lineups, Robert Horry came out to sing his new hit single, "Switch." I'm telling you, the guy can do it all.

9:20 – The game starts and Rasheed draws first blood with a turnaround over Duncan, followed by Hubie's telling us, "Duncan will tell you that Rasheed's length is a problem." Trust me, it sounded 10 times funnier.

9:26 – Did you ever notice how the Spurs lead the NBA in the always-underrated category of most hot trophy wives and girlfriends sitting behind the benches? Any time they cut to a closeup of a coach, it's a mortal lock that you'll see an ample cleavage in the background behind them. It's uncanny.

9:29 – Detroit 8, San Antonio 2. Either the Pistons look especially fired up tonight, or the Spurs are rusty as hell. I'm leaning toward the latter.

Tony Parker
Tony, we'd like to you meet the Pistons defense.

9:30 – Hubie has now said the word "length" four times in 10 minutes.

9:33 – Through six minutes: Pistons 13, Spurs 4. Love the way they're calling this game – I think these are the same refs who worked the touch football game in "Lock Up."

9:36 – After a textbook Detroit defensive rotation on a failed Parker drive, Hubie says, "Now, if you appreciate defense, the rotation and the intimidation on that layup was just beautiful to watch." Couldn't agree more. Sure, only like 19 fans appreciate this stuff, and it will translate into ratings suicide for ABC – but he's right. That was awesome to watch.



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