SECTIONS
Saturday, July 20, 2019

Panes: Non ceteris paribus

AS OF this writing, game 2 of the 7-game series of the NBA Finals will be underway in San Antonio’s AT&T Center pitting the Spurs against the visiting Miami Heat. The 2nd game’s outcome should already be known by the time this column hits the newsstands. It becomes part of history. I wish my mortal hindsight could pre-empt what the results would be.

As a 3rd party observer watching the games unfold from the sidelines, I appreciate the value of each part and how each input made by their management makes the whole function. I guess we were all tantalized. For the Spurs, in addition to a veteran cast of Duncan, Parker and Ginobli, Marco Bellineli from the Bulls was added. For the Heat, in addition to James, Wade and Bosh, Oden, Beasley and Douglas were taken.

Notwithstanding my personal appreciation of the strategies each of these organizations made brilliantly from offseason to the present time, forecasting the outcome of each game will always be to me a plain exercise in futility assuming all these are equal or the situation remains the same.

Of course, basketball aficionados rooting for their teams already know by now how the facility’s air conditioning equipment conked out in the venue where one of the best games of the world is being played. I mean the NBA Finals is the time when the gods of the basketball world gather together in their courts to render a verdict. Which demi-god turned naughty or was so incensed it caused the malfunction, which an technical expert on earth could not avoid?

I mean this is the NBA Finals, not just an NBA practice, not a NBA regular season game and not even one belonging to the NBA playoff series. Wasn’t this first game a reasonable number of days to prepare after the Thunder’s attempt to reach the finals again was quashed by the conqueror’s dominating performance? Were the days leading to game one not enough to check that all things in San Antonio’s AT&T Center were in order?

I mean we are not talking about any sloppy organization. This is the San Antonio Spurs, a championship contender with a $63 million dollar player payroll contending for a NBA Finals championship. For the record, about 11 teams have lower roster salaries. The Atlanta Hawks ($58.4M) and Phoenix Suns ($53.7M) were surprisingly efficient but nothing like the San Antonio Spurs.

At this point, it is clear that Spurs management by reaching the NBA Finals have earned much value for each dollar it had invested.

I mean, aren’t we talking about one of the best and reputable organizations in the NBA? Were they directly responsible for maintaining the air conditioning equipment in the venue? Was a lapse in judgment committed? Was an omission committed on purpose? Was an oversight made inadvertently? Was the exercise of necessary due diligence performed to check the status of its air conditioning equipment (among other possible things) for the staging of a grand event to be played in its home court?
Jason Terry (formerly with the Dallas Mavericks) had reasons to be suspicious. He alleges that Spurs could have become creative to tamper some elements in the balance to favour them. But it remains apparently clear however that under the same sweltering conditions, both teams had played. Fair enough?

On the surface, “ceteres paribus” or the state that all things are equal exists. Maybe. What isn’t clear to us outside the circle is whether the Spurs were better prepared or had been materially prepared for the adverse conditions to take game one.

Maybe, they knew their sports drink was better. Maybe they knew James had become deficient in magnesium hence the conditions facilitated cramping. Maybe, this conspiracy thread is simply about denial.

While Green found his three point stroke, Lebron’s cramps had shrunk the Heat. That was clear. What is clearer still is that that there was a lamentable oversight on the Spurs’ part or its agents to check and maintain the condition of the generator of the air conditioning equipment to provide all players an environment to be at their best.

Yes, the players of both camps may have played under the same unfavourable conditions but these weren’t the optimum. For this reason, we were all short changed.

Mr. Silver, this is lamentable.

A Post Script of Game 2: With the air conditioning issue fixed and the desired room temperature making everyone in the AT&T Center comfortable during the game, both Heat and Spurs played with all their players at an optimum level. Ceteris paribus. That was awesome basketball between two great teams. That should be how the each game must be played. The Miami Heat evens the series with a strong end game.
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