Monday, May 12, 2008

McNice's Rebound Was Simply Nasty

They call Antonio McDyess, McNice -- for his pleasant, courteous off-the-court demeanor and his overall reputation as a hard worker who doesn't grate on the officials. He's the anti-Sheed in that respect.

But there was absolutely nothing nice or pleasant about the manner in which McDyess snared a crucial offensive rebound late in the Pistons' 90-89 win in Game 4 of their series with the Orlando Magic. McDyess's grabbing of the carom -- a result of yet another missed shot by Rasheed Wallace, who missed plenty of them down the stretch -- enabled the Pistons to get one more chance with the clock having less than 20 ticks left in its arsenal. The Pistons were down, 89-88, and staring a 2-2 series tie square in the face. Their court general, Chauncey Billups, was styling in a beige suit, but of no use to the team, out with a hamstring injury. Sheed had gone cold.

Enter McDyess. They call Dwight Howard Superman in Orlando, but it was McDyess who earned that moniker, swooping in from nowhere like a super hero to grab Wallace's miss and keep the possession alive. It was one of the most impressive, clutch offensive rebounds I've seen in recent years. McDyess simply wanted it more, and he got it. Tayshaun Prince made the rebound count with his running baby hook, and now Detroit has a 3-1 stranglehold on the series.

McDyess's rebound, to me, is on par with Prince's block of Reggie Miller in the 2004 Eastern Finals. Both plays changed games, and McDyess's board just might have sealed the series for the Pistons. Certainly Prince's maniacal effort on Miller changed the tone of that series with the Pacers.

There's a time for nice; the playoffs aren't it

Yet McDyess's play hasn't gotten the notoriety it deserves. Prince's hook shot rightly was heralded, as was the team's overall play minus Billups. Even Howard's disappearing act (hey, he plays for a team called the Magic, after all) has gotten more ink than The Rebound by McNice. But no board there, and the Pistons probably don't win that game. Simple as that.

All of which would make it criminal and injust poetically if the Pistons can't somehow find a way to get McDyess his championship. He was brought here after the '04 title, and came within minutes of winning it all in 2005. Who can forget the image of McDyess sitting on the Pistons bench, in disbelief, after the team blew Game 5 of the conference semi-final to Cleveland in 2006? That was the famous drive-home-in-my-uniform experience that McDyess confessed to. The Pistons recovered to win that series, but that display was merely one example of how badly McDyess wants that ring. This was a guy who wasn't even supposed to be playing as much as five years ago, due to numerous knee injuries and surgeries. Yet here he is. And let's not forget his comeback from a broken nose after Game 3 in the Philadelphia series a couple weeks ago.

Antonio McDyess is a nice guy. But when that ring is there for the taking, like Wallace's missed shot in Game 4, don't be fooled: Dice knows that Nice doesn't cut it.

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