I know this may seem a little late, as well as a sore subject for everybody involved, but I need to talk about the NBA Eastern Conference Finals.
Now, I have to let you know right away that I am writing this for very selfish reasons. This is going to be very therapeutic for me, a big step in getting over what has turned into the Pistons Tragedy.
There were a lot of reasons why the Pistons lost in the Eastern Conference Finals for the third year in a row: they were arrogant, inconsistent, and didn’t play any help defense in the post. However, I think I must point out the elephant in the room, the person nobody wants to hold accountable because we all love him so much: Sheed.
Like I said before, he was not the only reason the Pistons lost, but if you had to point the finger, he is the guy.
I know some people may say Tayshaun Prince was the real reason, after he only averaged 9.8 ppg in the Conference Finals. Honestly? He was guarding the best player on the other team the whole game. All his energy was used up on guarding Paul Pierce and he had nothing left on offense. We could blame Flip Saunders for that; after all, it’s not like anyone was going to stop Paul Pierce and his Magic Knee that series anyway, why not throw different looks at him?
(Quick tangent on Paul Pierce: I used to have a lot of respect for him and the way he played. He played tough, was great at drawing contact, and despite being athletically challenged, scored a lot of points and played hard every night for crappy teams. After the finals? After his flop job on his knee? After the wheelchair? 90 percent of that respect is lost. Wasn’t he openly weeping? I almost wept. I was witnessing the death of a man’s dignity for the sake of dramatizing an already over-dramatized series. God.)
Anyway, I think the loss was at least partially due to Sheed’s fatal flaw: his supposed “passion” for the game.
This “passion” I speak of was much talked about on ESPN during the series, and I even remember watching a long story by Rachel Nichols (god I hate her) on how Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace are similar players because they both share a borderline insane emotional involvement in the game.
Here’s why that is false:
Kevin Garnett is crazy. He should be in a mental hospital. I truly believe that if I looked at him dead in the eye when he’s doing one of his buggin’ out faces, one where you can see the sanity leave his body like a ghost, I would turn to stone. I mean, the man reportedly blacks out briefly during games. Need I say more?
Before games, he is like a sleeping volcano. In fact, you can almost see steam rising from his head. Once the game starts, there goes the sanity ghost and Garnett plays like there is no tomorrow. Yeah, he whoops and he screams, but he does more than that. He has gotten so good at channeling this inner rage that he can use it to do things regular humans can’t; push himself harder when his body screams uncle.
He is better for it and so is his team. In fact, he and they would be completely lost without it.
Sheed is also crazy. I don’t think it goes to the same level as Garnett, but it’s definitely there. However, there is one major difference between Sheed’s rage and Garnett’s rage:
Garnett’s rage is used. He channels it to make it work for him.
Sheed’s appears. Most of the time when a ref makes a bad call.
This is a small but crucial difference. The only time I saw Sheed truly go nuts was pre game (and who wouldn’t be hype as hell after that?) and when he thought the ref made a bad call. These are not the times the Pistons need him going nuts. They need to see his passion when he is facing up a player significantly worse than him, i.e., Kendrick Perkins, i.e., the Devil’s Spawn (I mean, look at him. Especially with the pubic beard growing from his chin). Where was it when everyone was looking for it, in game six? Four points? Really?
The truth is, this has been a problem throughout his career. Look at him and tell me why he has never averaged over 20 points per game his entire career. It cannot be explained logically. He is almost seven feet tall, athletic, can shoot 3’s, and has great post moves (he is deceptively quick with his drop step). Why has he never grabbed more than nine rebounds per? Who knows?
It is a well-known fact that Sheed is a classic underachiever. The weird thing about that is, usually underachievers are talented players who care to little, or not at all, about the game. But if, like everyone I talk to says, Sheed cares deeply about the game, how is it possible for him to underachieve? He has the physical skills, the athletic ability and, apparently, the will or “passion.” How can he go wrong?
The only logical explanation is this: he really doesn’t care that much. How can you care if you have the ability to take over in an elimination game, and then don’t? How can you care when you’d rather shoot 3’s than go to work inside, when you and everybody else knows that is where you need to be? Answer these questions, and you solve Sheed.
The smart thing for the Pistons to do is have him come off the bench next year and then let him leave when his contract runs out. They could try to trade him, but odds are nobody will pony up for him.
What Sheed needs to know is that you can have all the “passion” you want. It’s how you channel it that decides if you’re home or at a parade in June.