It has been an incredible past 36 hours. The emails from people coming out of the woodworks, the giddyness, the over the top celebrations, the champagne toast, the twelve near heart attacks and strokes I survived. Once again, I LOVE LIFE!!! Birds are singing. The sun is smiling (it’s that sun from the Raisin Bran commercial). There is much joy.
First I have to say thank you to everyone that played their role in the grand victory. My three friends that came over to watch the game and sat in their assigned seats. Myself for avoiding the color green all week long. The trio of haters Khalid Salaam, Tiki Barber, and Lang Whitaker, who provided the Giants with the disrespect that fuels their engine. Brett Favre for that hanging hot air balloon of a throw at the beginning of overtime.
And the GIANTS players… too many to point out. Antonio Pierce making a tackle with one arm while being blocked by two guys, Plaxico Burress for playing hurt all year and coming up huge and having the best game of his life in the biggest game of his life, Brandon Jacobs for faking the Lambeau Leap (which would have killed several people if actually completed), the young secondary, the hustle of special teams…
Coach Coughlin who should have been fired after losing the team last season. Who gave a shaky kicker who had already blown the trip to the Super Bowl twice in the past half hour – a chance to kick from a distance where no man had succeeded in Green Bay in the playoffs. I was emotionally devastated when Lawrence Tynes missed the kick at the end of regulation. I collapsed in a heap on the floor. I was numb. We were right there and the Superbowl was taken from us by a kicker. A kicker!
And then… he lined up for the 47 yarder which he had no right to make. I still can’t believe they let him kick it. There was much rejoicing in the house of Rubenstein.
The stunner though… ELI MANNING. I have a signed framed photo of Al Pacino as Tony Montana. Yesterday I removed the photo and replaced it with the cover of the NYPost. SUPERMANN. That’s right, Eli gets Tony Montana respect! To quote my friend’s friend “WE SUPERMANNING THESE (insert word Isiah uses to call females).
Eli has transformed like Optimus Prime in the past month. No… scratch that, he’s like MEGATRON. A monster beast! The change in Eli Manning over the past month has been, I mean there are no words.
Which NBA player does Eli’s transformation remind me of? How about Rasheed Wallace! No, I haven’t lost it, although I am giddy. Remember, when Sheed was with Portland, people would say look at his skill and size, he should be 25 and 10 every night. But he just wasn’t interested. Rasheed wanted to play ball, take over the game when he needed to, but he never felt the pressure to be a big NBA savior whom the universe revolves around. He refused to play the other NBA superstar games like making a big show of his charity work or smiling in their goofy Space Jam as real life poses. He was written off as someone who just didn’t get it. Then he goes to Detroit and bam, everything that was Rasheed’s way becomes the way of a winning unselfish basketball player. He was right, everyone else was wrong. He did it his way.
Rewind to last summer. I saw an old college friend at a bachelor party, and we had the Giants conversation. He stood up for Eli when I was running through the usual insults. The next time I saw the guy, it was when he had tickets for the Giants-Pats game (OH MY GOD IT WAS A SUPERBOWL PREVIEW!!!) and I asked how he felt about Eli. He had come to my realm of darkness, the land of hatred. We got to the game expecting interceptions and awkwardness. He threw one, but young Eli grew up a lot that night, and he’s been a different person ever since.
So now, since I work for a basketball magazine’s website, how does it apply to the NBA? I am a firm believer in the “Everything happens for a reason” field of logic. Now I believe that the despair of the Knicks only exists to make the Giants run for greatness even more impressive. They could stop showing Knicks games on TV and nobody would care. Did they play yesterday? Against the Celtics? Was there a physical altercation on Dr. King’s birthday holiday once again? Who cares. All I know is that there were NY Giants at the Knicks game. MSG actually mattered for a few hours yesterday only because it was the land of Giants.
But the real lesson of the Giants for NBA teams is this… You never know. You just never know. Right now, obviously the wheels have fallen off for the Miami Heat, but if you go back to preseason some people thought they could win their division. Nobody thought Portland would be relevant once Greg Oden got hurt, and now they are one of the great stories of the season. Brandon Roy was considered a rookie of the year by default, and we all expected the sophomores to lose to the rooks by 90 points at All-Star next month. And now Brandon Roy is seriously an MVP candidate. I guess the whole point of making predictions is to set yourself up to be shocked when something unexpected happens. It’s a lot to ask to have something crazy happen the year after an 8th seed beats a 67 win #1 seed, but you really never know.