Rule #8

Not to go all Lozo on everybody here or anything, but did anyone happen to catch what went down at the end of the Suns/Spurs game the other night? Not so much the foul by Robert Horry, but all that mess that went down afterwards?
Now before we take another step here, lets make sure we're all on the same page. No doubt, no question -- it was a flagrant foul. I don't want to any hear conspiracy theories or half-baked ideas about what Horry might have been trying to do -- because the simple fact is Robert Horry knew exactly what he was doing.

If you've been watching this series at all, you already know it's been full of hard fouls and physical contact from both teams. Extra elbows, a couple bloody noses, even a knee to the groin thrown in for good measure. These two teams don't like each other, but even so it's pretty clear that the Spurs are initiating a lot of contact to try to counter the fact that as a team they aren't nearly as quick as Steve Nash and the rest of the Suns are.
I don't know why everyone's acting so shocked about it -- things like this happen every year in the playoffs.
The theory here is simple. Scuff a superstar up a bit and maybe he'll start to get irritated, start crying to the refs, start to look out for the contact, start to hesitate a little, and above everything else -- stop focusing on the game the way they should be. It happens all the time in any sport that features multi-game playoff series. From brushing back batters to crashing the net, it's simply part of the game.

A fact a lot of people would understand a hell of
a lot better if they watched a little more hockey.
See in hockey you have a bunch of little guys who skate around and score all the goals, surrounded by a gang of enormous thugs who's sole purpose is to protect the little guys and beat the crap out of anyone who gets too close. They're called enforcers, and they've been around almost as long as the game has been played. Hockey is a physical sport, so most of what these guys do is hard checking, but every now and then they'll drop the gloves and make sure the message is clear.

Enforcers are paid to take penalties, expected to take and deal out punishment, and are absolutely necessary when you're playing against 30 other teams who all have their own bruisers who are looking to crash your superstar against the boards.

The same thing is true in pro basketball, even though it's not supposed to be as full contact as hockey. When you've got a relatively little guy like Michael Jordan flying all over the court and scoring at will, and you've got no one on your team who can even come close to matching his scoring output, it becomes a pretty common practice to put one of your bigger Charles Oakley-sized forwards out there to hassle him. Of course when an opponent tries something like this there's always the chance that your superstar might get hurt, which would sink your team's chances of utilizing his talents and riding his skills to a possible championship -- which is why if you're a coach like Phil Jackson, you bring in someone like say, ..Dennis Rodman
Because Dennis Rodman doesn't care about scoring points.
Dennis Rodman doesn't care about getting fouls.
I'm not even sure Dennis Rodman really even cared about winning after a certain point in his career.
All Dennis really cared about was making sure no one laid a hand on 23.
At the same time, if the Bulls were losing a playoff game because John Starks or Reggie Miller was shooting the lights out, Dennis would be there to make sure they tasted a little floorboard now and again lest they think the Bulls were going to go down easy just because they were losing one game.

Which is why near the end of a game 4 when it was clear Phoenix was pretty much headed for a win (which would tie the series -- meaning they'd have to play at least two more games before anything final was decided) -- it was time for San Antonio to send a message.

I'm not saying that the Spurs coaching staff told their players to deliberately go out and hurt somebody -- because they wouldn't do that. I'm telling you that someone who's been in the league as long as Robert Horry has doesn't need to be told when to intimidate an opponent.
So he checked Steve Nash.
If anything, the real problem was that Horry botched the move. A foul like that is supposed to look like you were trying to get your arms up and you know ..whoops, I guess I kinda stuck my elbow in your ribs there, didn't I?

But Nash had a step on him, so Horry had to kind of rush his little "accident" and probably put more behind the elbow part of the equation than he normally would, seeing as the goal in a situation like that is to lean your hip into the guy and try to force him out of bounds. Of course it really doesn't help that Steve Nash only weighs about 30 pounds soaking wet, so any contact at all is libel to send him flying off in the other direction -- which is exactly what happened.
But all of this is beside the point, because what really ticked me off was everything that happened after that.
I mean, you're Robert Horry here -- you just elbowed the two-time league MVP into a wall. You can try to walk away all casual like, but you know damn well there are about 12 dudes in blue uniforms who are gonna be up in your face about it. They're gonna call you names and complain, they might even try to bow up on you a little bit. You can't just take out a star like that and not expect some kind of retaliation.

But what's the first thing Horry does when the cavalry comes in? He acts all shocked and starts pointing his fingers and yelling, and then proceeds to do the worst thing possible thing of all:
He starts Chance Fighting
Chance Fighting is the subtle art of telling everyone you're going to kick their asses without ever actually doing anything. It's something akin to the way non-venomous snakes make threatening noises to make their enemies think they are more dangerous than they really are. But when people do it, it usually involves a lot of name calling and thorough descriptions of what you're gonna do, of what's fixin' to happen, what you better be lookin' out for if you know what's good for you.

This technique gets it's name from not-really-even-worth-calling-a-reality-show-star-celebrity Kamal "Change" Givens, who spent half of his time on VH1's "I Love New York" telling people what they were about have done to them if they didn't stop flapping their gums:
As you can see, chance fighting involves a lot of waiting for someone to hold you back so you can start yelling for them to let you go so you can go cut this bitch up. It's the kind of thing you see in bars a lot when rednecks get a bunch of beers in them and then start leaning into each other and flinching their chins like birds doing a mating dance while they repeat key chance fighting phrases like:
"What you gonna do?"
"You gonna do something?"
"Oh I'm gonna do something, just you wait until I do something"
"Start something, see what happens"
"Say it to my face"
"Say that again"
"Someone better hold me back before I really do something"
"What did you just say to me?"
"I'm serious, if security doesn't get here some real shit is going to go down."
"Say that one more time, punk"
At which point I'm usually like "Hell, I'll say it if it will help you shut the hell up!" I mean come on, is this a fight or an episode of Crossfire? Somebody throw an effin' punch already. And this is coming from me -- a guy who hates fighting in any form.

Seriously, when I was a kid my parents used to call me Kissinger because I was always breaking up fights at school. I've only been in two real fights myself, and both of those were with my asshole stepfather after he hit my brother. The way I see it, physical conflict rarely if ever solves anything, and really only should be used to protect yourself or someone else.

But if you're gonna fight, then stop screwing around, get it on -- or shut and go away. There's nothing more annoying and embarrassing than seeing two dudes close enough to kiss just talking to each other about what they're gonna do to each other.

Which is exactly what you saw Robert Horry doing once it looked like the whole Phoenix Suns team wanted a part of him. I mean, sure getting into a fight would probably have meant some huge fine and more than just the two-game suspension he did receive -- but at least it wouldn't make him look like he was man enough to blindside some little dude who wasn't looking, but too much of a coward to stand up to someone who's right there in his face looking for payback.

That's why I like women. Because when two chicks get to that point, you know it's gonna happen. And even if it doesn't solve anything --

There's really nothing better than a good catfight, is there?
[Listening to: Sevendust, "Bender"]