(Hat tip to ThunderPlayoffBound of the OKCThunderFans Forums.)
When shouting at the Thunder players after the game was over, Josh Smith made it clear he was upset when the Thunder breached NBA etiquette and dunked with less than 24 seconds left on the clock, and the Thunder up by 9. Basically, he broke the unspoken rule stating that the team winning should pay respect to the losing team by not piling on their lead at the end of the game.
To be honest, Josh Smith can go cry me a river. It was New Years Eve, the crowd was excited, and we all wanted to see a ending better than the Hawks could have provided. Adding on top of that was the complete lack of end-game scoring by the Thunder. In the final 4 minutes, a tip-shot by Ibaka and that dunk were the only buckets the Thunder could muster. So that bucket was just our way of saying "let's entertain the crowd and go out on a high note".
The player who scored the bucket was Serge Ibaka, but the man who fed him the assist was Russell Westbrook. He made the play so he could secure a triple-double, a big accomplishment in a NBA players' career. Okay, so it was a bit showboaty, but as noted by ThunderPlayoffBound in the discussion thread on OKC ThunderFans, Josh Smith is being a hypocrite. He stayed in late in a game against the Raptors where the game had already been decided in order to get his triple-double. How is staying in as a starter to beat up on a defeated team any worse than grabbing a free assist at the end of a game which had, for the most part, been competitive?
Furthermore, the unspoken rule in question is pretty bogus. The rule would make sense if it was in place for tee-ball, but these are professional basketball players. Tens of thousands are playing good money to see the game, and hundreds of thousands are watching it on TV. Players are getting payed millions, even the 15th man sitting in a suit on the end of the bench. In all honesty, they should be able to withstand a bit of showboating. It was their fault for losing the game in the first place.
Now, I'm not saying that games should involve endless taunting by a team that's up by 20 points. That's how the Pacers-Pistons and Knicks-Nuggets brawls broke out. When a team is up by a sufficient amount, they put in their backups, and they cruise control to the finish. It's just common sense. But the "end of the game" rule is different. Whether the starters are still in and the winning team is up by 10 or whether the backups are in and the winning team is up by 20, it doesn't really matter. We came to see a basketball game, so both teams should continue to play, not just run the clock out. And even if you do agree with the "running out the clock" philosophy, you have to agree that tonight was somewhat of a special case.
But, in the end, the opinions I write here won't matter, nobody will get fined, and things will continue on as usual. But, if nothing else, just remember that Serge Ibaka and Russell Westbrook weren't trying to be punks. They were simply entertaining the crowd, and sometimes, that's all you can ask of your team.
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