Gimlet (gim•let): 1. A small tool with a screw point, grooved shank, and cross handle for boring holes
Gimlet-eyed: 1. Sharp-sighted; 2. Having a piercing stare
The Phoenix Suns cannot let a 2-0 hole get them down. It is ugly, yes, but they must, in fact, refuse to acknowledge that the is even a hole there. In fact, they should see right through it to the prize on the other side.
We have seen our worst enemy and it is not Tim Duncan or Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili or the myriad easy looks at the hoop they got. It’s not Bruce Bowen’s occasionally dirty defense or Michael Finley’s sudden rejuvenation. The real enemy is the Phoenix Suns themselves. This is true now. It has been true the last 3 years. And it will be true again if they do not face themselves down. It is Leandro Barbosa going 0-7. It is Shaquille O’Neal losing his man on the break for an easy 2. It is Steve Nash insisting on going behind the back in the lane because he is not taking the shots the Spurs give him. It is Boris Diaw, failing to convert 4 straight shots over mismatches in the lane. It’s Mike D’Antoni, not drawing up plays to get Nash or Stoudemire the ball when the game is on the line. (Via Hardwood Paroxysm.) It is Amare Stoudemire, not realizing that an MVP does more than score 30 points a night. Hell, ‘Nique did that and how many rings did he get?
You know who it’s not? Raja Bell going 2-7 and grabbing 5 rebounds. Those stats belie that fact that he plays his guts out every night and takes care of business. Some nights the shots fall and others they don’t, but he never forgets who he is and what he is supposed to do once he takes the court. Most importantly, I don’t think he forgets why he’s out there. He’s not there to beat the Spurs. Raja Bell has gimlet eyes. He doesn’t see Manu Ginobili or Tony Parker. He sees the ring on the other side of them.
Steve Nash has gimlet eyes but facilitates instead of dominates. Amare Stoudemire confuses gimlet eyes with with thundering, but ultimately meaningless dunks. Shaquille O’Neal has gimlet eyes, but no longer has the skills to carry a team. Barbosa never had them (let’s face this: The Suns have a Sixth Man, the Spurs have a Sixth Hombre.) Diaw can’t find them and D’Antoni can’t coach them.
The Spurs have them in spades. Pop knows what he is doing. His boys got ice in their veins. His boys got discipline. His boys got execution. What his boys don’t got is nerves. His boys don’t see their opponents and can’t be rattled by them. They see the gold and the glory that is past them and keep on marching.
And let me tell you, it does not do the Phoenix Suns a lick of good for Raja Bell to have gimlet eyes when the rest of them do not. Steve Nash will find his, if D’Antoni lets him. I don’t worry about him.
Amare Stoudemire, though, I call you out. You want to be MVP? You want to get your foot in that door? Then turn that 25 point first half into a 50 point game. Refuse to lose. Lead. This. Team. Realize that a final score is more important than a box score. Nash might be the quarterback, but it’s your turn to be the general. Nash says he is passing the torch to you . And when (or perhaps, if) you claim that torch, you have no choice but to lead your team from darkness of disappointment to the light of a championship or let it burn your hand off trying. Lead. This. Team. Kevin Garnett has them (and we could have had him!). You’ll have to pry a ring from his cold dead hand. You want your name mentioned with his? Be like him. Lead. This. Team.
Right now, the championship goes through San Antonio, and eventually through Boston. Make it go through you. You are gifted. Freakishly gifted. You’ve got the potential to be Karl Malone, Shawn Kemp and Charles Barkley rolled into one. And that’s great, if you don’t mind never winning a ring. But if you want to hold the Larry O’Brien, you’ve got to channel Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, and Magic Johnson. Contest everything; concede nothing. This is your series, STAT, your legacy. If averaging 30 a night is your goal, then do us all a favor and hang that "Mission Accomplished" banner already. But if being the best, if truly being Number 1 is your goal, then find your gimlet eyes and see through the highlights and the numbers to your destiny behind them. KG sees it this year. And as I said, you will have to pry that ring from his cold dead hand. My question is do you have it in you to make him or anyone else pry it from yours?