NBA commissioner David Stern said today that he is "absolutely tickled to death" that the Memphis Grizzlies, up three games to one on Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder, "probably believe they're going to advance out of this round."
"It's just the dearest thing," said Stern. "I almost want to pinch Marc Gasol's fat cheeks."
Despite Memphis looking like the clearly superior team through the first four games of the series, Stern says he has put out the order to his officials that "under no circumstances" are the Grizzlies to close out the series.
"Both Los Angeles teams lost in the first round, Brooklyn lost, Boston lost, Chicago is on the way out, the Knicks are losing. I can't lose all of those big markets and a star of Kevin Durant's caliber," said Stern. "I mean, let's be reasonable here. I didn't build this league to where it is by giving people NBA Finals featuring the Memphis Grizzlies and Indiana Pacers. Nobodies versus nobodies. Not a chance."
Stern said he expects the Grizzlies to take a lead early in Game 5 before "the Thunder begin shooting a large amount of free throws, thanks to Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Zach Randolph all experiencing some major foul problems."
The commissioner said he will be watching Game 5 very closely.
"I love when it dawns on the players what is happening," he said. "You can see it on their faces. They know. They know that no matter what they do, they're not destined to win. They look so sad. It's hilarious. It's my favorite part of this job."