Everything went nuts at the end of Sunday's game between the Knicks and Heat.
With New York up one, Latrell Sprewell corralled a missed shot, landed near the baseline and, surrounded by Heat players, lost his balance. A whistle blew just before he fell out of bounds, and chaos ensued. As the Heat and the officials conferenced to determine exactly what had transpired, Sprewell triumphantly heaved the ball into the air and marched toward center court.
Watching the turmoil at home, I couldn't bring myself to try to figure out whether Sprewell had been fouled or called a timeout, or to crack a smile knowing that whatever call had been made undoubtedly benefited my Knicks.
Instead, as Latrell flung the ball toward the heavens, I could only think, "Don't 'T' him up!"
Sprewell could have been assessed a technical foul for celebrating prematurely by tossing the ball. What an awful way that would have been to end a spectacular series--a technical free throw. I'm glad that the officials were able to exercise some discretion--although the way things were going, it's not like Miami would have hit the free throw anyway.
But once the dust settled and the Knicks sent the soon-to-be-dismantled Heat packing for a third straight year, I began to reflect on celebration in professional sports in general, and wonder why both the public and most sports authorities are so against it.
The NFL, or as it has recently been dubbed, the "No-Fun League," has led the charge against player celebrations. Most recently in its annual meetings, the NFL banned multiplayer touchdown dances. Next season, if the St. Louis Rams want to perform their famed "Bob and Weave" after a score, each participant will be subject to several thousand dollars in fines.
Interestingly, individual end zone celebrations will still be allowed.
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