'Just embarrassing, man': Why Mavs-Suns blowout was the worst TV since 'Seinfeld' finale

·4 min read

What’s worse than awful?

Brutal? Pathetic? Sad? Miserable? Execrable?

Yeah, let’s go with execrable.

That pretty well describes the play of the Phoenix Suns in the deciding Game 7 of their series with the Dallas Mavericks Sunday. The Mavs blew out the Suns 123-90 — “and it wasn’t that close,” TNT’s Charles Barkley pointed out afterwards — ending it for the Suns after they won a team-record 64 games in the regular season.

But they only won three in the best-of-seven series.

It was terrible TV, the biggest small-screen letdown for something everyone thought would be great since the finale of “Seinfeld.”

And that’s saying something.

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Charles Barkley was in shock. Kevin Harlan compared it to a video game

“I’m in shock,” Barkley, the former Suns great, said during the TNT studio halftime show. “Nobody saw this coming. … This is just embarrassing, man.”

It was. At one point Kevin Harlan, who called the game with Reggie Miller for TNT, compared it to a video game.

“I’m looking at that score, 70-32,” he said. “It’s like playing a (NBA) 2K game, right? I can’t even begin to figure it out.”

Neither could the Suns.

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It was surreal. The broadcast, at least, reflected that. A blowout is when broadcast teams really earn their keep. It’s easy to make an exciting game sound worth watching. When a team suffers a mystifying collapse like the Suns did Sunday, that’s a different story.

Harlan is a first-rate play-by-play announcer. Miller is fairly pedestrian, but they keep things moving along all right.

“Dallas is on an unimaginable 33-5 run!” Harlan said at one point. His description was accurate.

“This is an old-fashioned, take-you-behind-the-woodshed kind of beat-down,” Miller said.

Also accurate. Ernie Johnson, the fantastic host of the TNT studio show, informed viewers after the game that the 57-27 Dallas lead at the half was the biggest lead in the history of NBA Game 7s.

Truly, at some point it became about watching history. How bad could it get? At one point it seemed like it might get to a 50-point lead for Dallas. This was like some alternative universe in which the Suns reverted to the godawful days of a few seasons ago, when they were one of the worst teams in the league.

“Footprint Center,” Johnson said. “Dallas left their footprint all over” the Suns, he would have said, had Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal hadn’t interrupted him, as is their wont.

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Shaquille O'Neal was diplomatic about the Suns' blowout loss

O’Neal, for his part, was diplomatic.

“I’m going to blame it on just one of those nights,” he said.

The game was bad enough that eventually the TNT studio crew talked about what good shows “Bonanza” and “The Big Valley” were.

That’s just sad.

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Truly, it really is a sad end for what looked like a great season for the Suns. After going up 2-0 against the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals last season, only to lose four games in a row — the Bucks got blown out by the Boston Celtics in their own Game 7 Sunday — this was supposed to be a season of redemption. So now what? Next year?

This year was supposed to be next year last year, if that makes sense. This, truly, is the kind of loss that is so ugly, so damaging, it can leave scars. When you have what is supposedly the best team in the NBA and you simply don’t show up, how do you go forward with confidence? How do you watch with confidence?

There are much, much worse things going on in the world right now, obviously. Sports is supposed to be a temporary reprieve from all that. If you are a Suns’ fan, this was not.

Reach Goodykoontz at bill.goodykoontz@arizonarepublic.com. Facebook: facebook.com/GoodyOnFilm. Twitter: @goodyk. Subscribe to the weekly movies newsletter.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Why the Dallas Mavericks-Phoenix Suns blowout was 'embarrassing' TV