The NBA Finals Minutemen, featuring Brian Cardinal

Sure, the Mavericks might have saved their chances of winning a championship with their improbable rally from a 15 point deficit to tie the NBA Finals at 1-1, but perhaps more notable was the unlikely Game 2 presence of Brian Cardinal. In the second quarter, Rick Carlisle went all the way to the end of the bench to bring Cardinal in for Brendan Haywood. Cardinal went on to log one minute and wasted no time by aggressively face guarding Mike Bibby on a three point attempt. Odds are, Cardinal's brief performance didn't impress Carlisle enough to give him anymore playing time in the series. If that's the case, Cardinal finds himself on a rather eclectic list of players who have played one career minute in the NBA Finals since 1999:

Michael Doleac - The 6'11" Utah product played one minute for Miami in their 2006 match-up with the Mavericks. His other Finals contributions include chest bumping Dwyane Wade a lot and laughing at all of Jason Kapono's jokes on the bench, even the one's that were clearly over the line.

Tamar Slay - Some fun facts about Tamar Slay: His middle name is Ulysses. He was an original Charlotte Bobcat. He played in Israel in 2005, and was possibly mistaken for Tamir "The Jewish Jordan" Goodman. And he played one minute for the Nets in their 2003 Finals match-up with the Spurs.

Steve Smith - Yes, that Steve Smith. Perhaps it's surprising to have a former All-Star on this list, but Steve could never get the Heat, Hawks, or Blazers over the hump while in his prime. He finally got his name on the board with the Spurs in 2003, playing a minute in the decisive Game 6 of the Finals and even managing a field goal attempt. Take that, Tamar Slay!

Mitch Richmond - The MVP of this list, Mitch paid his dues playing most of his career on losing teams in Sacramento and Washington after a promising start in Golden State as a member of Run TMC. In 2001, Mitch had enough and joined the Lakers to finally get himself a ring. Phil Jackson rewarded his service with a minute of action in Game 4 of their sweep against the Nets. It's fitting that the best player on this list is also the only one to score in his brief NBA Finals window, as Mitch made his only field goal attempt. Now, can anyone verify if that's actually him following me on twitter? (Sup @MitchRock2)

Rick Brunson - The definition of journeyman guard, Brunson played for eight teams in his nine year career, including multiple stints with the Knicks, Blazers, and Bulls. Brunson's 98-99 season with the Knicks was legendarily awful. In 17 games, he shot 29% from the field, 0% from 3, and 28% from the free throw line. However, he did average 3.4 steals per 36 minutes. This impressed Jeff Van Gundy enough to stick him into Game 3 of their Finals match-up with the Spurs for a minute, likely to give a short rest to the two headed point guard-beast that was Charlie Ward and Chris Childs.

I'm hoping that Rick Carlisle doesn't get an itchy substitution finger again for the remainder of the finals, or lets Ian Mahinmi get some playing time instead, so this post wasn't written for naught. But if so, Brian Cardinal could be in even more exclusive company, joining former New York Knick and Phoenix Sun Jerrod Mustaf as players who played 1 minute in an NBA Finals game twice!

For exclusive commentary on basketball and culture, check out more Negative Dunkalectics, follow @negativedunks on Twitter, and become our fan on Facebook.

The Final 7:14 of Game Two, In and Of the World

11:22 pm – Dwayne Wade hits a 3 pointer putting the Heat up 88-73. With 7:14 left in the game and a 15 point lead, the fans begin to celebrate by throwing their white hand-towels in the air. A man in a banana costume dances at half-court.

11:27 pm – Jason Terry hits a layup. Miami calls time out. 11 point game with 5:45 left.

11:29 pm – Melinda Dorsey is driving on Interstate 80 westbound through Iowa en route to Denver, Colorado. Her car is filled with most of her belongings. She was surprised she could fit them all in her Subaru hatchback. The pride she felt in the convenience of not needing a U-Haul quickly turned to anxiety over why, 29 years into her life, she hadn’t managed to accumulate enough things to fill a U-Haul, let alone a real home. Her new job starts on Monday, and her head is filled with regrets over leaving so suddenly and anticipation of the adventure that lay before her. Somewhere between regret and anticipation she clips the guard rail with the right side of the Subaru. The surprise causes her to jam the brake, sending the car into a spin. After what seemed like an eternity, during which she came to understand fully the idiom “life flashing before your eyes,” her car comes to a stop facing the wrong direction in the shoulder. She thinks about how lucky she is that there was hardly any other traffic on the road at this time of night. She stares ahead through the windshield that is now facing the wrong direction, and she thanks nobody in particular that she is alive. She cries.

11:30 pm – Miami comes out of the time out and gives the ball to Lebron James. He drives to the basket and misses the layup. Dallas gets the rebound and Terry gets fouled on the other end. He makes both free throws. 88-79 with 5:20 left.

11:34 pm – James comes off Marion to help on Dirk. Dirk dishes to Marion who drives. Lebron falls for the head fake. Marion lays it in. 88-81 with 4:10 left.

11:35 pm – Kidd hits a 3 after Chalmers and James get their signals crossed on a screen, leaving him open. No timeout from Miami. Heat brick their next shot. Terry hits a jumpshot on the other end. Heat cover Dirk leaving everyone else open. Timeout Miami. During the time out, the fans who didn’t leave after Wade’s 3 at 11:22 and the fans who aren’t staring at their phones are chanting “Let’s Go Heat!” 90-86 3:11 left.

11:36 pm – Gilbert Christensen walks out of the Gold Strike Casino in Tunica, Mississippi into the parking lot that faces out into a vast cotton field. He had been losing all night. He managed to pull the last $500 he could get off of a credit card advance around two hours ago. That was the money that would get him even, get him back to where he was when he walked in to the Gold Strike at 3:00 that afternoon, straight from work. It was pay day, so he was flush with $1,100. That went pretty quick. The other $3,000 he managed to lose over the course of the evening was mostly pulled off of credit cards. The $500 was the last of it, all they would allow him to take. He had no choice but to gamble it, he told himself, because all by itself it wouldn’t even cover the interest. He had to win it back. Since his patience was wearing thin, his body was aching from a full day’s labor and a full night’s stress and discomfort, and his nerves were already shot to Hell, he opted to play the $5 slots. At least then, he figured, his fate would be decided quickly. And so it was. As he stood in the parking lot, even the breeze rolling in feeling warm and muggy against his face, he realized there was nothing beneath him. He swore to the cotton field and to no one in particular that he would fix this. And he believed it more fully than anything he ever muttered out loud to himself ever before in his life. He even smiled.

11:37 pm – Bosh drives baseline and dribbles out of bounds. Turnover. Dirk hits a wide open jumpshot. 90-88 2:23 left.

11:39 pm – James misses 3 pointer. Wade rebounds. James misses another 3. Ball is headed out of bounds. Haslem jumps to save it, throws it high and long towards half court. Dallas gets the rebound, Dirk gets a layup. Tie game. 57.6 seconds left.

11:40 pm – Michael Lefferts is sitting in what passes these days for a church. It isn’t like the churches he grew up in and around, with wooden pews and stained glass and silent, pious parishioners. It’s more like some kind of rock show, with the worshippers all standing and dancing and arms in the air, palms facing forward. A band at what he guesses is the knave is playing some kind of Christian rock song, a choir accompanying them into tiny microphones. He is irritated; both with his friend for dragging him here on a Thursday night, and at himself for being talked in to it. He is 15 months without a cigarette, having quit a few months after Tina left him, one of those “get your life together” gestures that supposedly builds the confidence to tackle the fundamental personal problems but often just sucks up all the bandwidth on its own. He is 15 months without a cigarette but right now he would 100% light one up if it meant a temporary respite from this insanity. But the band finishes their song, the lights go dim, and the man who he guesses is the preacher comes out, his own tiny microphone in hand, and he tells the worshippers that he, too, was a sinner, and blah blah blah. It is the same thing Michael Lefferts had heard a million times before. And it makes Michael angry. He feels the heat of the blood filling his face. This is what you always do, he thinks to himself, this is your problem you know. Just then the preacher quotes Proverbs, and for some reason, Michael hears it. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” "No shit," Michael says out loud. He laughs when he realizes the error. “Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoils with the proud.” Michael isn’t so sure. “Be still,” the preacher quotes, only this time the entire congregation knowingly quotes along with him. The sound is booming. Michael is taken aback at just how many people are actually here. “Be still and know that I am God.” The command freezes him. “Be still.”

11:43 pm – Dirk is left wide open on the three point line. He looks like he expected to drive off a screen but nobody played over it. He seems surprised to be open so he chucks it. Swish. Miami calls time out. Dirk walks back to the sideline holding up three fingers. His teammates greet him with intense stares and chest punches. 93-90 Mavs, 26.7 seconds left.

11:44 pm – Chalmers left open and alone in the corner. Long pass across the court to him and he drains a 3. Tie game. 24.5 seconds left.

11:45 pm – Anna Bogdanov is lying awake in her hospital bed in Arlington, Texas. Her husband, Alex, is curled up asleep in the chair by the bed. She is still a little numb from the epidural, and the rest of her body is exhausted; physically, mentally, emotionally. For many months now she tried to imagine what this moment would feel like, and now that it is here she realizes that her imagination never had any shot at getting it right. Her son at her breast, his hand so tiny it barely qualifies as a hand, he opens and closes his fingers into a little fist against her chest. She whispers Alex’s name without looking over to notice that he doesn’t wake up. Neither of them are basketball fans. It is fair to say that neither Alex nor Anna have ever even watched a game before, at least not by choice. Alex never opens the sports page if he even opens the papers at all, his English good enough for conversation but not yet good enough for reading. She whispers to no one in particular, “I want to call him Dirk.”

11:47 pm – Dirk drives and nails a left-handed layup. 95-93 Dallas. 3.4 seconds left. Miami has no more timeouts. Wade gets ball to the three point line and throws it up. Way off. He flops to the floor feigning contact. There is no whistle. Everyone left in American Airlines Arena is still.

David Hill is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. He regretfully went to sleep shortly after the banana thing. You can follow him on twitter here.

For exclusive commentary on basketball and culture, check out more Negative Dunkalectics, follow @negativedunks on Twitter, and become our fan on Facebook.

Shooting At The Wrong Basket: An NBA Rulebook Investigation

In soccer, it's a common occurrence. In football, it resulted in an iconic moment for Jim Marshall. But in basketball, scoring a goal for your opponent is a rare and mostly unexamined feat. There is the occasional tip-in by a player fighting for a rebound, but those are understandable in the heat of battle. It's the more calculated instances that I'd like to dissect.

This may seem like an esoteric thing to focus on, but it was none other than the National Basketball Association who examined the possibility enough to enact the following rule change before the 1977-78 season:

• Any field goal that, in the opinion of the officials is intentionally scored in the wrong basket shall be disallowed.

A need to codify this scenario seems bizarre on the surface. Why would any player be motivated to shoot (and score, so lets take Ricky Davis out of the mix) at the wrong basket intentionally? Did it happen at some point in the previous season to raise some point shaving suspicions? If Spike Lee and John Turturro ever get around to making that Jack Molinas biopic, maybe we can find out if he pulled these type of shenanigans, but regardless, the rule was changed 23 years after his last NBA game played and three years after he got taken out by the mob.

Since I have no concrete evidence of why the NBA felt the need to take a hard stance on shooting at the wrong basket, I'll instead discuss the three instances I'm aware of where this rule could've been applied:

The first is a well known incident for Knicks fans that perhaps permanently soured Mike D'Antoni on Nate Robinson. Early in the 2009-10 season, the Knicks had a 2-9 record and appeared headed towards their ninth straight losing season. Tensions quickly reached the surface when with 0.5 seconds left in the first quarter of a game in New Jersey, the inbound pass went to Nate, who in typical Nate fashion, decided to shoot (and score) at the wrong basket.

To be fair, he waited until the buzzer sounded but D'Antoni felt it was too close for comfort and barked at him as he walked to the bench. Was D'Antoni more annoyed at Nate for not attempting a 75 footer at the buzzer (valid), or for possibly gifting 3 points to the Nets? If it was the latter, D'Antoni was obviously ignorant of the rule, but attention to details has never been his strong suit. Because the shot was clearly after the buzzer, the refs never had to make the (easy) judgment call that the shot was intentional, so unfortunately it was a missed opportunity for a rarely (if ever) applied ruling to be given.

The next instance involves a topical player, Shawn Marion, who almost dunked in the wrong basket during his rookie season. As we can see, Shawn figured out what was going on at the last second and pulled back, so no judgment could be made here either. But if he did in fact dunk it, it would've set up a scenario where he might have had to convince the refs he did it on purpose for them to disallow it! You can almost imagine Marion, youthfully wide-eyed, pleading to the referee, "I went to UNLV, we do that type of shit! Didn't you see that hot tub pic with Richie 'The Fixer' Perry and Anderson Hunt?"

The third instance is a fairly obscure one involving Chris Mills and Samaki Waker that is only documented in writing and in a video archive somewhere, per Hoopedia:

In 1999 in a Golden State Warriors' game against the Dallas Mavericks, Mills was playing for Golden State. After a jump ball, Mills attempted to make a basket, but on the wrong side of the court. He attempted to make a shot at the Dallas basket. Amazingly, his shot was blocked by Samaki Walker of the Mavericks.
This moment raises several questions. What was either player thinking? Would the shot have counted? Is goaltending in play? What ever happened to Samaki Walker? One day when the entire NBA video catalog is downloadable through our implanted brain-chips, we can finally get to the bottom of what happened here.

And we will also be able to point to the moment that brought this issue to the surface and codified it in the NBA's rule book. Until then, I will watch with bated breath hoping Shawn Marion doesn't make the same mistake when he takes on the Miami Heat in the Finals. But if he does, at least he can convince the refs it was done intentionally.

For exclusive commentary on basketball and culture, check out more Negative Dunkalectics, follow @negativedunks on Twitter, and become our fan on Facebook.