President McCain? Blame "Hot Rod" Williams, Part 2

Bloggified by Jake on Saturday, May 3, 2008

Even before Hillary Clinton declared she was running for President, she was leading national polls. Before Iowans ever caucused, the question was whether Rudy Giuliani or Fred Thompson would oppose her. For that matter, her campaign essentially began in November of 2004 once John Kerry was defeated.

That month also marked the opening of the Suns 2004 season with Steve Nash back in a Phoenix uniform. While teams like the Spurs, Pistons, and Lakers were bringing home championships in the previous decade-and-then-some, the NBA's ratings were bottoming out as basketball devolved into a game of clock management and intentional fouls with an emphasis on not letting the other guys score, even at the expense of your own scoring. Even the Shaq-Kobe "Return of Showtime" Lakers of the 1999-2002 averaged 100.9 points per game; the defensive "playoff basketball playing" Knicks of 1992-93 averaged 101.6.*

That season, the Suns averaged 110 points a game, gave up 103, won more games than anyone else in the league, tied the franchise's 1992-93 record with 62 victories, and got people interested in basketball again. Unfortunately, they also lost the Western Conference Final to the Spurs, who in turn went on to defeat the Pistons in one of the least watched NBA Championships since the Baltimore Bullets defeated the Philadelphia Warriors in 1948.**

In the years that followed, the Suns finished with 54 and 61 wins, but lost the the playoffs both years. Finally, in 2008, as the trade deadline approached, Phoenix's front office saw the writing on the wall and traded speedy, athletic forward Shawn Marion to the Miami Heat for lumbering, elderly Shaquille O'Neal. While the loss of Marion (who'd felt "disrespected" by Suns management and intended to sign elsewhere when his contract ended) didn't have the impact of watching Dan Majerle go to Cleveland, the message was the same. The Suns were going to follow the pack and sacrifice their own identity to become a knock off of the Spurs/Lakers/Heat/Pistons in the hopes of winning a title.

Worse, if the title came, Suns fans would forever have to admit it was all courtesy of Shaq. In truth, when the Suns were knocked out in the first round by the Spurs, it was a relief for many in Phoenix.

Starting in late 2006 and throughout 2007, Hillary Clinton made herself a beacon of hope, a reminder of pre-Bush America. But when the early primaries began, she found herself being outscored by another hopeful candidate, Barack Obama. With an eye toward winning the championship White House, she and her husband followed the same line of thinking that the Suns did and adopted the strategies and tactics of the classless, graceless thugs who'd beaten up on them in the past.

The Clinton camp leaked stories to the press implying that Obama was secretly a Muslim. Clips of his former pastor saying inflammatory things became a lead story. "The Man from a Place Called Hope" told supporters that Obama's story was "a fairy tale." She's suggested John McCain is more qualified to be president than is Obama. She embraces the likes of Bill O'Reily, Richard Mellon Scaife, and Rush Limbaugh. Her handlers cherry pick statistics to make weak cases for why she can beat McCain, but ignore the other 90% of the numbers that say Obama is the most electable of the three current candidates. And after taking any cheap shot she can, she'll complain that she's not being treated fairly.

And then there the whole "contesting" election results in Florida thing.

With every primary further indicating Clinton cannot win the nomination, she has become more determined not to let ruining a man's career--nor the future of the Democratic Party--stand in the way of her winning.

In turn, the more she adopts the Rove-ian style of play, the less those of us who once considered ourselves Clinton fans are rooting for her. In fact, much like fans faced with the Shaq-led Suns, many who longed for Bill Clinton to return to prominence are now actively rooting against the Clintons and hoping this semi-final series will end in sooner rather than later.

Hillary Clinton has adopted a strategy that goes against everything we thought she stood for and Bill Clinton has tainted our memories of him. There is no way they can win, but they will not admit defeat until they drag Obama down with them.

There are some who want to win at all costs, whether that means cheating, lying, buying victory, hurting others, or just playing by the letter of the rules instead of their spirit. Then there are those who would rather lose than taint the game. I wish it were true than cheaters never prosper, but that's simply not the case 95% of the time. In fact, most sadly, those who believe in truth, justice, and that mythological American Way more often than not find themselves turning to Shaquille O'Neal and "Hot Rod" Williams when they think it might mean victory.

So when John McCain is elected to George Bush's third term, whether it be over a Barack Obama who's been so battered by his own party that he cannot mount a suitable campaign against the Republican machine or over a Hillary Clinton who convinced the Democratic Party to hand her the nomination and alienate more than half its members, know it could have been avoided if the Democrats had just looked at the Suns first round exit and the history of "Hot Rod" Williams.

*Granted, in the long run a difference of 0.7 points per game (57 point scattered throughout the entire season) may not seem like much, but we're talking about the difference between a high-scoring offense with two of the highest scoring player in NBA history versus a team that was touted as a collection of defensive specialists without a lot of offensive talent. To put things in further perspective, the Bad Boy Pistons of the 1988-1990 repeat champs averaged 105.5.

**This could be related to the fact less than 10% of Americans had ever seen a television in 1948... and that only 18 cities nationwide had television stations... and that the NBA Finals weren't broadcast in 1948...

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