In Portland, Ore. for a visit, I found a sleazy sports bar on the outskirts of the city to watch game six, which pitted an ever-bitchy Kobe Bryant against the (what was once strong) defense of the Nuggets and Carmelo Anthony. I went into this sleazy sports bar with some trepidation, wondering how many Lakers fans I would have to face throughout the evening’s game. Generally, I can keep my composure in such bar scenarios but with my hate for Bryant and NBA referees, I wasn’t so sure I was going to keep my mouth closed, especially after a few cheap beers.
The place was musty and reeked of old grease and stale whiskey but it had an oversized HDTV and an attentive waitress. I remained calm for the first quarter, not yet feeling the beer. Denver was not playing up to their best ability but they were staying in the game nonetheless. Of the 20 or so who were watching the big screen in our area, I would say the divide between Lakers/Nuggets fans was pretty even.
Denver’s gradual death ensued and I began to drink more and cuss more. I was simply full of frustration at Kobe’s offensive power and power to control the refs. The man killed me that evening. (Is he even allowed in the state of Colorado? Somebody should check the court records.) Of course, by this time I had made some rather, shall we say, verbally abusive comments toward the television. My girlfriend Torie, who was acting no better than I, was cussing like a sailor. Yes, we were egging our neighboring table full of Lakers fans and, to our demise, they were egging us on with their in-your-face comments as well. Unfortunately, they had Kobe and the upper hand.
After a rather damaging three-pointer cashed in by one of the Lakers, a young Japanese man dressed in expensive-looking business attire stood up and screamed in our faces, “You can’t stop us now!” He had severely bloodshot eyes and crusted wing sauce in the corners of his mouth. I felt a disgusting spray of beer splooge and wing chunks in my face as he screamed.
“Shit,” I thought. “This is what our trip to Portland is going to come to? I am going to have to hit this guy and fight my way out of this bar. I’ll probably have to find bail money to get out of jail – all to find out later that the Nuggets got stomped on by L.A.” It was fight or flight time with this guy. So, naturally, I stood up and took a last gulp of beer. I clenched my fist and walked strait over to the scratch-game lottery ticket vending machine at the far end of the bar and inserted $2. “What a better way to change my luck,” I thought. “Now is the time for the big winner.”
I sat back in my chair and diverted my attention to the two losing lottery tickets. The general scene in the bar was bad. Everyone, including the two of us, were getting fearlessly drunk and nobody knew how to stop. This scene here was bad but only half as bad as the scene on the court in Denver.
The Nuggets did not have it in game five or six. And to Zen master Phil Jackson’s credit, he had found a way to beat Denver’s defense. For the first time in the series, his offense waited for the double team (usually on Kobe) and then found a way to get the ball to one of their big guys down low. Denver couldn’t defend them at all.
On offense, the Nuggets down low couldn’t put the ball in the basket. It was simple. Down low, they were missing lay-ups and easy, high percentage shots. This is also where my much-hated referees came into play as well. When Denver was able to get the ball in the paint, the refs weren’t calling any fouls – unfortunately for the Nuggets, this is a big part of their game. They were number one (or number two?) in the regular season for going to the line. The Nuggets need the fouls – the thrive on them – but the refs took that part of the game away from them in their concerted effort for a Kobe-LeBron finals. I am 100 percent sure that was the case during game six. This just pissed me off. How many times did they get hacked under the basket and not get a foul? Maybe a dozen times?
Anyway, like I said before, it’s all over now. Our night at the sleaze bar ended without incident and we drowned our sorrows by continuing our binge at other sleaze bars.
Oh well. I can go back to watching Law and Order reruns or Emeril Live instead of watching hoops. I never really liked it anyway. Oh, and I am so, so happy for the corporations like Nike and others who bet on a Kobe-Lebron finals and lost out. Go Magic, I say, while I flip to another station.
If you would like to link to this story, please use the following code: http://watchnewspapers.com/bookmark/2670216