Spurs Fans Should Be Thanking Brent Barry

Because just maybe that non-call against his team, and his teammates stoic refusal to blame the refs, might galvanize a little public support for his team.

Up until now, all I heard on talk radio was how much they can’t stand the Spurs, how Tim Duncan is a whiner, how Manu Ginobili is a flopper, how Bruce Bowen is dirty, et cetera.

Now that the Lakers are up 3-1 on a controversial play involving a last-second shot that didn’t involve Kobe Bryant, the fickle winds of public opinion are starting to blow the other way.

Every wannabe analyst (including me!) had to wonder if the referees would’ve called it a foul had it been Kobe shooting the ball for the Lakers rather than Brent Barry for the Spurs.

Unfortunately, though, many fans followed up with this point:

If only Brent Barry could’ve SOLD the foul, the referee would’ve HAD to call it, and the Spurs would’ve won.

No, no, no.

This is a fine point, but it bears repeating.

“Selling” a foul is just a euphemism for flopping.

And though some might feel otherwise, the ultimate goal for a basketball player should always be the same for a basketball team — to put the ball through the basket more times than your opponents.

Spurs fans who criticize Barry for not pulling a Ginobili on that play are missing a crucial truth that might not be evident if you haven’t actually played the game of basketball:

Knocking down the shot and selling the foul are mutually exclusive. You can’t do both. Selling a foul in the hopes of getting a continuation call (in this case, three free-throws) is usually the desperate ploy of a player who has no actual chance of making the shot in the first place.

But Brent Barry, up to that point, had hit several from downtown. In the split second he had to decide, Barry decided to man up and attempt the shot, rather than just flailing his hands and throwing the basketball somewhere in the vicinity of the hoop, hoping to bait the refs into making a foul call.

So the sad irony is that by actually trying to win the game conventionally, Barry opened himself to the petulant criticism of the fans who blame him for the loss.

If the Spurs can somehow come back from this loss and win the series, it will be very satisfying — and I’m not just saying that because I hate the Lakers.

Most likely they won’t, though. Kobe and Co. will probably close this out in either five or six games.

But either way, these San Antonio Spurs will still be holding their heads high, and not just because the organization has four titles to its credit.

It’s because they understand a time-honored axiom.

It’s really not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.

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