Okay, I DO want to talk about it. I bleed green and gold. My heart hurts after that game last night, but you know what--this was the little team that could.
Picked before the season started to finish LAST in their division, they won it instead. Singled out as the team projected to be the third worst in the entire LEAGUE, and they finished the regular season with the 6th best record in the NBA.
We lost Vladimir Radmanovic for 19 games late in the season, he manned-up and came back from a stress fracture in his foot and helped us win the first round series versus Sacramento, we lost at points during this season Rashard Lewis, Ray Allen, Antonio Daniels and Danny Fortson, and we still won. We beat good teams. In their stadiums. We demolished bad teams. We made noise in the West, and had a phenomenal road trip back in November when this little team that could jelled and decided that it doesn't matter what the critics say or what they are SUPPOSED to do, they could support each other and believe in each other and win anyway.
We were supposed to win MAYBE 30 games and get a lottery pick. We won 52 and stormed into the playoffs. Nick Collison came out with his super-shoulders and banged around down low, making us anticipate the amazing career he has in front of him. Remember when Vlade hit 9 three pointers against the Lakers?? I do. Remember beating the Spurs in San Antonio in December, breaking their home winning streak?? I do. I remember when Reggie Evans pulled down 21 boards against Charlotte in February. Undrafted. UNDRAFTED?!!? The number one rebounder per 48 minutes in the NBA was undrafted.
As was Damien Wilkens, who made this team on his own merit. Undrafted, his dad, his uncle, no one coud do it for him but HIM. And after barely making this team, showing up to practice at 100% every day, being there for his teammates, believing in himself, he showed up in March against Portland, when we were decimated with injuries, and shocked the NBA world with 21 points, singlehandedly winning that game for us, and coming up big the next game as well with amazing steals, hustle and determination.
Luke Ridnour. Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuke. The little kid from Blaine who has gone EVERYWHERE with a basketball for the past 12 years. To bed, to school, to eat, everywhere. And it paid off. He had some amazing games, impossible passes, creativity in all aspects of his game, and heart to spare.
And who was that in the first round?? Jerome James, or his alter ego? Career highs, amazing plays, rebounding, scoring. blocked shots-- he brought it.
This was an amazing season, and as painful as it is to lose and be done, I truly appreciate the hard work, determination, grittiness, effort and HEART these guys showed all season. I only hope we can bring most of them back next season to try it all again.
And after all of this, I question Rashard Lewis' heart. I question his determination and his drive. Where was he?!!? A TOE!!! He hurt his toe. It better be broken. He better need some sort of surgery or reconstruction or something. Reggie Evans played game 5 with heart. He sat on the bike on the sidelines with two ice packs strapped around his back with ace wraps to try to calm his injured back. And every time they called his name, he jumped up, threw down the ice packs, and checked into the game and pulled down 9 boards and hustled every second. Or Antonio Daniels who doesn't have a limb that doesn't hurt. His left leg is held together with spandex and support orthotics, his back spasms require daily therapy, he is knocked across the court on a nightly basis, and he still comes to play. It's the playoffs! Go hard or go home. GO HARD OR GO HOME!! I have no voice today. I left it all at the Key. My head hurts from all the screaming I did and all the screaming I heard. There is not a player who played last night who was 100%. But they all played. Except Rashard. This is the playoffs. You play hurt. You tough it up, go out there and do your best. Vlade was injured, I didn't expect him to play. Injury is different from 'hurt'. Rashard didn't want it. And now I have 5 months to think about that.