Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Against the Wall

Against the Wall

There is a wall that towers over the NBA play-offs like the Green Monster over Fenway. It’s immovable; you can’t go around it, over it, or through it. Teams have tried, but once they hit it, their season comes to a crashing end.

Teams know it’s there but they still run into it at full speed. Players know when they have hit it, but they refuse to talk about it, even though everyone else knows that they have hit it as well.

What is the wall? It’s that point in the play-offs that teams and players reach when they just can’t get it done anymore. Shots no longer fall for them, the calls don’t go their way, and no matter how hard they try, they just can’t seem to stop the other team. It’s when you reach the point that it is obvious to everyone around you that you are done. It’s obvious to you as well, even though you won’t admit it.

The Bulls hit the wall in game three of their series with the Wizards. Going into that game Chicago had a 2-0 lead on Washington and all they had to do was win two out of the next five games and they advance to the second round. Instead, they lost four in a row and were bounced by the Wizards. For the Nuggets it was game two, Houston and Boston crashed into the wall in game 7 of their series’ which resulted in them getting blown out by Dallas and Indiana respectively.

Many teams hit the wall and none survive. It’s not just in basketball either. The New York Yankees hit the wall in game four of the AL Championship series. All they had to do was win that game and they move on to the World Series. Instead they blew a three games to none advantage, losing four straight to the Red Sox and the rest is literally history.

The Oklahoma Sooners hit the wall in the Orange Bowl this year, the year before it was in the Big 12 Championship game. The Philadelphia Eagles hit it in the Super Bowl. Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts seem to find it every year in the play-offs, the University of Illinois ran right smack into it during the NCAA basketball championship.

It doesn’t matter how good your team is at what sport. The wall is out there, and when they hit it seasons, dreams, and hopes all fall apart.