Sunday, May 13, 2007

Unsportsmanlike swan song

The emotions in Oracle Arena in Oakland are fueled by the racous fans that pack the place. It's loud as all heck in there. But the when the Warriors began to fade toward the end of Game 4, those emotions let loose on the court when Jason Richardson committed a hard foul on Memet Okur with 37 seconds left in the game.

As the announcers said on TV, the foul was unnecessary but so was Okur's drive to the basket. The Jazz clearly had the game wrapped up. He didn't need to throw down a big-time dunk. Especially on the road.

So when Richardson fouled him, part of me said, "Good. Protect the home court."

That's when I realized that may not be the healthiest reaction. Richardson received a Flagrant 2 and went straight to the locker room. Okur went to the free throw line. He's lucky he didn't go to the hospital.

Okur's head could have easily snapped back and hit the floor, knocking him out or giving him a concussion. You never want to see a player get hurt; not at this point in the season. Richardson could have committed a foul on him without sending him to the ground. Okur could have stopped and thrown up a meaningless jumper. So who's in the wrong?

Both of 'em.

In sports there are so many unwritten rules that are under the code of not embarrassing your opponent. You don't go for the punt block when you're up by 28 in the fourth quarter. And you don't drive hard to the basket when you've got the win already locked up, even if the shot clock is ticking down.

Sometimes those rules need to be broken, but this was NOT one of those times. There's no bad blood between these two teams. Ideally there won't be after that hard foul. I'm sure when Game 5 tips off in Salt Lake City, the crowd will be all over Richardson.

For Golden State, it's a sour note on which they'll likely end their postseason. They are now down 1-3 to the Jazz with Game 5 in Utah, where the Jazz are undefeated this postseason. The Warriors were a horrible road team this season. They have been the story of these 2007 playoffs, but now the story ends in a very unsportsmanlike fashion.

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