Faith Rewarded

Kurt —  June 11, 2009

LAKERS
In the end, it’s about faith. Faith in yourself. Faith in your teammates. Faith to persevere. Faith that you will bounce back after adversity. Faith that when the game is on the line and in overtime you will execute.

It’s about faith rewarded.

The Lakers did execute when it mattered, and Orlando was 1 of 7 in the OT. The Lakers played through the fouls on them, the fact they got zero free throws in the fourth quarter and overtime. Orlando complains about the calls they didn’t get. The Lakers had faith in what they could do. They had faith in their experience. Faith that the hard lessons learned last Finals and beyond would carry them through.

Their faith was rewarded.

There is the faith in Fisher that, frankly, many of us Laker fans are guilty of having lost. But not Phil Jackson. From that first game before Halloween, we fans begged Derek Fisher to stop taking so many pull up jumpers in transition (PUJITs), but he had faith and hit a huge one with a Finals game on the line. We called for someone else to get his minutes. Zephid said it better than I could:

This game is proof as to why we keep the faith in our players. This game is proof as to why we don’t bury our own guys; we don’t throw our own guys under the bus. Because our faith is rewarded. Everyone under the sun was calling for Phil to bench Fisher and play more Shannon Brown (myself included). Tell me, does anyone honestly believe that anyone outside of Bryant could have made those two shots other than Fisher? Through all his struggles, all the 1-8, 1-7 shooting games, our coaching staff kept the faith in Fisher. Even when he was getting crushed by Deron Williams, Aaron Brooks, Chauncey Billups, and Rafer Alston, the coaching still kept calling his number, sending him in during crunch time, sending him to battle when the games were on the line. And for their faith, they were rewarded with the most crucial victory of the season, delivered to us by one and only Derek FIsher. This is the stuff of legends; the stuff that only becomes more endearing when you’ve lived through his struggles as we all have.

Now our faith, and the tribulations it has gone through, is on the doorstep of being rewarded with a championship.

Kurt

Posts

165 responses to Faith Rewarded

  1. I missed the first half working late, but to see how we clawed back and then won with the refs trying to hand Orlando a win…well, that made it all worthwhile. What made it even better was having my 7 year old son watching right along with me. We were both at the SBC center when Fisher hit the .4 shot – tonight’s game trumps it – BIG time. Time to get the champagne on ice. Another title is ours!!!

    To Snoopy, Darius, Warren, Mimsy, Joel, Wondahbop and of course, Kurt – thank you. I found this forum last season shortly after Bynum was injured and I don’t think I will ever leave. Being a Laker fan in San Antonio is tough, but this site makes me feel welcome. This is more than a blog – it is a Laker lifeline. I can’t wait to have my son, my wife and I fully celebrate a Laker title together. That game was about the Laker spirit.

  2. It’s funny that SVG is so upset about the ‘experience’ question. If the difference isn’t experience, the doesn’t it mean that the difference is the Lakers are just better? And doesn’t it mean that the Magic and their 23-year old star aren’t going to get any better than second place?

  3. Experience has proved to matter, they have won 2 of the 3 close games now. I am not even totally convienced that the Lakers are the better team, but it is their experience over the Magic that will probably get them the title.

  4. Most impressive stat: 7-0 in games after a loss. The sign of a champion.

  5. “He just has supreme confidence and I think those shots at the end of the game are actually easier for him than the other ones.”

    -Kobe on Fisher

    What a thrilling victory, I always had faith we’d find a way to win, and we did – my hats off to everyone, with the early foul trouble and playing 12 players in the first half, tremendous resilience. Proud of every member of the organization, even with Kobe shooting 11-31 we find a way to win. Absolutely remarkable.

  6. I believe Bill Simmons is currently preparing a story on how biased the officiating was in favor of the Lakers down the stretch in regulation and overtime.

    :)

  7. Like I said, there’s a reason why Fisher has been starting even through his troubles. I was probably the happiest person in Busby’s tonight when D-Fish showed us why he’s in there.

    One mo.

  8. Fisher came alive last series and I think when people realized Phil was not going to abandon him for Farmar or Brown the calls to bench him died down a bit.

    I still say our playoffs run got legs with the flagrant to level Scola in the Rockets series. That was a hockey style statement play: it was outside the rules, correctly called, and nobody got injured so there was no kharma penalty. Shortest guy on the court (and probably the most expendable guy in that series) played enforcer and look where we are now.

    Stan Van Gundy needs to rethink his views on life if he thinks any of our other guards would have taken and knocked down the regulation 3 pointer. With nearly 7 seconds left on the clock when it left his hand, Brown and even Jordan would have dribbled that out and waited for Kobe or Odom to come down the floor. That’s experience and accountability you don’t get from young players. Write it down, Stan.

    PS – On a side note, we laker fans consistently seem to go to other blogs and tell people to chillax when other fans complain about laker favoritism in the calls. Some of you guys may feel like we got jobbed tonight in 3 of the 4 quarters, but try and exercise some composure. Medium highs, medium lows.

  9. Coffee is for Closers June 11, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    F YES! I was at Lucky Strikes in Torrance – not a great sports bar btw. But by the end of the night, we had that dead place f’ng rockin! God Yes, thank you for making me a Laker fan!

    What an abundunce of riches being a Laker fan, tonight was a robert horry flashback coutesy of D-Fish.

    They’ll be more time to break down what happened, but this is the time to savor the blessing of being a diehard Laker Fan.

    Sweet dreams my friends…

  10. Trevor Ariza was HUGE. He has a quiet swagger to him when he gets it on.

    That Kobe rebound from Dwight was in my opinion the play of the game…other than Fisher’s three pointers of course. That really fired up our team.

  11. Coffee is for Closers June 11, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    Will, I will say this, i’ve really grown to like SVG during this series, but that comment just does’t wash, and i’m sure he knows it. Its like Laurence Tanner says, “never underestimate the heart of a champion!”.

  12. Does Fisher’s regulation three remind anyone else of the Jordan-Grant-Paxson three in the 1993 Finals?

    What struck me most about that play, ironically, was this excerpt from Brian Shaw’s interview prior to the game:

    “Kobe likes to, if he’s scoring on a play, or he likes to make the pass for the assist of the score. A lot of times from our perspective as a coaching staff, we would like him to make the pass that would lead to the pass. You know? That’s still evolving. You see the double team is coming, now hit the open guy and let him hit the next open guy and score, but he likes to be the one to either deliver the shot or deliver the pass that’s going to lead to the basket.”

    Jordan played the part of the decoy to perfection in those last few seconds in Phoenix, and Kobe did the exact same tonight.

    The play, I thought was so similar, except Ariza wasn’t in a position to score like Grant was. But in both plays, Jackson clearly exercised the option of using his best player as the decoy – in fact, I think managing to convince both Bryant and Jordan to commit to the plan just might be Phil’s most impressive accomplishment in both of these plays. And we should definitely give credit to Kobe tonight for allowing the play to develop, instead of rushing to put his stamp on these Finals (9-26 shooting at that point be damned).

  13. btw not to hijack this Fisher appreciation thread, but you guys should watch steve nash’s bit on Dave Letterman — really funny stuff.

  14. j. d. hastings June 11, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    Jon Barry: Pietrus’s foul was Pau’s fault
    http://espn.go.com/nba/recap?gameId=290611019

  15. j. d. hastings June 11, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Later Stu Scott asks Barry how, as a shooter, he handled going 0-5 in a game before stepping up to hit a clutch play. When did Jon Barry hit a clutch play again? Why is he on a podium with Magic Johnson again? This is causing my hair to fall out.

    Sorry, I know I should be focusing on Fisher, but this is pent up…

  16. The Magic are going to be seeing that smile on Derek’s face in their nightmares.

  17. P.S.: “Kobe can’t win a championship without Shaq” is now at the funeral parlor being embalmed, if you want to get in on the final viewing. The funeral is expected on Sunday.

  18. Right because getting the easy basket with 4 seconds left to go up 3 possessions is a crime. Because nobody has ever come back from being down 2 possessions with 4 seconds left to win a game…. oh wait, pretty sure Reggie Miller or T-Mac have done that.

    The game was still happening, if Pietrus had gotten there and made any kind of a play on the ball, he fouls him and we go on with our lives. But Barry seems to be implying that Pau was trying to upstage the magic on their home court… the game wasn’t over, I’ll take that nail in the coffin.

    Be in the vicinity of the ball when you foul, please.

  19. Tonight’s game is going to get #2 up in the rafters at Staples. No, he doesn’t have the gaudy stats, but he is the steadying influence that blends together the uber-talent of Kobe and Paus with the lunch pail role players such as himself. Fisher King indeed!

  20. Cayucos Surfer June 11, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    Yeah, what is Jon Barry smoking? It’s a finals game. I don’t care how many you’re up, its a close game, put the ball in the hole. No excuse to double fist a guy in the back. I don’t know what’s more surprising, that he said that, or that nobody argued at all.

  21. Does anyone else agree that the Lakers are about to win a championship….and….they havent reached their maximum potential with Bynum not 100 percent and the inconsistency of the bench…especially Sasha who shot the ball badly all season?

  22. Just to add to the Jon Barry hate, I also disagree with his statement of how Pietrus’s foul was Pau’s fault. In the regular season, yes you dribble it out. But this is the finals. You don’t dribble it out because a) anything can happen and b) you want to make a statement. Who cares if the other team thinks it’s showboating. There’s a championship on the line. LOVED Pau’s anger after he got fouled. His soft label was removed during these playoffs, but now it’s been burned to pieces.

  23. PeanutButterSpread June 11, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    I will admit, I lost faith. I let Chicken Little get into my head and panicked.

    I really thought there was no way the Lakers would win, not down by three and putting Dwight at the free throw line.

    There was just no way the Lakers could win, not when I thought it was a must-win game, not after their 12-point comeback and especially not with the Refs favoring the Magic like crazy.

    I really thought the Lakers would lose.

    But as fate would have it, or is that experience, Dwight missed the two in the clutch and Derek Fisher, the D-FISH, knocked down the three to send the game into OT.

    But HUGE shout out to Trevor Ariza for his fabulous 3rd quarter.

    I think this game shows more than anything, we need to resign both TA and LO.

    AND Note to Jon Barry:

    No one deserves to get pushed in the back while in the air.

    As a basketball player he should know that. Then again, he lost to the Lakers too, so he’s just bitter.

  24. so ESPN has a glitch and a video of fish and kobe post game sends you to this very funny picture:

    http://a.espncdn.com/photo/2009/0611/nba_g_kobehoward11_576.jpg

  25. How about :
    “Kobe cant win a championship without Fisher ? ” – he has to win one without Fisher to prove himself.

  26. I wasn’t going to post this, but now I will… (it’s simply incredible what a good bottle of wine can do):

    last summer, I declared 2009, potentially, the year of the trifecta. My wife was pregnant, I was volunteering for the obama campaign, and I’m a longtime (10 plus years) lakers season ticket holder. If all three of these disparate possibilities could coalesce in one calendar year… well…

    it’s june, 2009. my daughter is here and she kicks a**. obama is president. and we are one game from destiny.

    long live fish! long live the trifecta!

  27. Of course I thought we were going to lose. I didn’t give up hope until about 40 seconds left when we were down 5 with the Magic putting up a shot.

    Moreover the offense looked bad, going too Kobe-centric.

    But I wanted to call out one play (out of many wonderful moments) which hasn’t gotten much love here, and that’s what happened next. The Lakers grab the rebound, Kobe races downcourt and attacks the lane, he spins off one player and out of the corner of his whirling eye sees Pau running the lane behind him.

    I’ve watched this play about five times now and I still don’t see how Kobe knows he’s there… it must be instinct and expectation combined with experience to interpret a blurry purple jersey. Pau has had a pretty poor game on O up till now, but he’s still plugging away making the right play, running the floor. So, Kobe keeps spinning and delivers a velvet spin pass to the trailer Pau who dunks it.

    This play seemed innocuous at the time, but it brought the game to one possession with 30+ sec on the clock, so the Lakers will have a shot if they can get a stop. It still seemed like a futile gesture at the time, but it was the right basketball play and it made it possible for the Howard misses and Fisher 3 to happen.

    It reminds me of something subtle at the end of Game 3. After the Lakers missed a bunch of 3s at the last few seconds, they did toss in a 2 to pull within 1 with a couple of seconds left. Game over, right? But Kobe was still racing around trying to pressure the inbounds pass and was frustrated because the rest of the team had given up and wasn’t making the right basketball play. Lewis catches the inbound, game over. Today the team made the right play to be in position to pull out the miracle.

    On 0.4 vs 4.6. This was a much much bigger and better play. Besides the fact that it’s in the Finals, 0.4 was, frankly, a lucky shot. There wasn’t much for him to do but catch and heave. For 4.6, he had to survey the court, ignore the fact he had bricked his first 5 3-pointers and say, hell, we aren’t getting a better look than this and they’ll probably foul us anyway, stop and pop from way behind the arc. If he misses 0.4, no one will blame him. For 4.6, he stepped up and said I am taking the blame for this, make or miss.

    I was also quite moved by his comments on how the coaching staff and team has trusted him. On some mathematical level it might have been more effective on average to have Brown or Farmar take his starting spot, but these are proud human beings here, not video game sprites or fantasy basketball trading cards. And as I argued before (hey I’m so rarely right I have to note it when it happens), Phil would never drop Fish because he believes too much that coaching is about building character which shines through in crunch time and that Fish is the character leader of the Lakers. And today Fish made Phil look good.

  28. IN FISH WE TRUST!!!!

    Can’t say it enough…

    Check these out!

    http://www.zazzle.com/in_fish_we_trust_tshirt-235304808022846115

  29. What’s that noise we hear?

    a Ring!

    Huge plays by Fish, great burst by Ariza, solid composure by Kobe and Pau. Thank you Lakers, thank you for this elation, thank you for this joy! One more to make it four, finish them!

  30. end it in 5 please. and i agree, we’re winning this title with our center not even playing 50% to his potential and our bench needing some tweaking.

    this laker team can get really scary for 3-4 more years.

    i hope kobe does the seemingly unthinkable and sign a cheaper contract to guarantee t.a. and l.o plus some eager talented beaver in the fa list not for show but even if it’s just adding cement to his maverick image then so be it.

    i digressed, hats off to d-fish. phil’s faith, everybody’s faith rewarded. hey, maybe God’s been seeing purple and gold on his horizon. anyway, i say end it in 5 and bury last year for good riddance with a loud statement game.

  31. Didn’t Rajon Rondo say about wanting to see President Obama this year by repeating? Well, I guess the Lakers are going to be the ones to see the President. Anyway, Joe (#3), the best team is the one that wins 4. Kurt has stressed this over and over again. Just one more.

  32. I do not think enough has been made of Kobe’s mental games on Dwight. There is no denying that both of them have become friends after the Olympics. Both players have confirmed this. D-Ho even began to look up to Kobe after the Team USA experience, not to mention the fact that D12 was a big admirer of Kobe even before last year. The internet is full of videos of Howard admiring Bryant’s play.

    At the beginning of this season, both players stayed in touch and communicated with one another. Young Howard was obviously very excited by the fact that Kobe was cool with him and gave him advice and encouragement.

    Even before the beginning of the finals, Dwight mentioned a few times his friendship with Kobe. And I think this is were Kobe’s mental games (a la Jordan, do not really wanna compare the two as players though) began.

    Young Howard thought Kobe was gonna Kobe the friend from the summer and throughout the season. But Kobe does not really have friends on the court from the opposing team. Howard is not yet mature enough to understand the stakes and mental strength needed in the finals.

    Then Kobe began his mental decomposition of Howard. Avoiding friendly hug at the beginning of the game (instead settling for a fist check like he would with any other player). From that moment you can see that Howard was surprised Kobe did not show emotions and friendship. As the game moved along, Kobe got downright medieval on Howard’s ass. Constantly bodying him up when he could, smacking him for hard fouls and talking trash at all times. During the defining play of the game, Kobe snatched a rebound out of Howard’s hands and got fouled by Dwight. Dwight came over to talk it over and Kobe just said something like “Shut up and play b***”. That was the final nail in the coffin… Howard proceeded to miss all but one of his shots and all but one of his free throws since then.

    Fish, Ariza, Pau were all great in their right. But Kobe did the most important damage by completely tearing apart the psyche of the opposing team’s best player.

    There is an interesting article by Chris Sheridan on D-Ho’s mental state at the moment. Worth a read!

    But my point is, Kobe was more efficient and deadly than his box score shows

  33. Question for Birdman – you said in the previous “game chat” thread that you were in Orlando for Game 4. Can you please describe the crowd and your experience there, particularly in the 4th Q and OT? Thanks.

  34. I feel really happy for Fish. The guy gives his all every game and I’m glad he’s being rewarded by cementing his place in Lakers history. He has always been a stand-up character that comes through when you need him.

    Congrats man

  35. No doubt, one of the best clutch performances of all time. Here it is, hours later and I’m still thinking of it. Derek Fisher is the man!!! Hands down. Superman had kryptonite on the free throw line and showed the world, bottom line, HE’S NOT READY! I can’t believe it. Game. Set. Match. Lakers. Period.

  36. PeanutButterSpread June 12, 2009 at 3:08 am

    Question:

    After this game, will the Lakers retire #2?

  37. 33,

    Hey Scot,

    Sorry for the late reply.
    The crowd was so energetic throughout the game (although they were pretty much booing and quiet when LA made their run) and guys around me were saying “Kobe tell me how does my [profane] tastes”, “[profane] you, Kobrick!”, and every hating they could have possibly say.

    I was there cheering for LA, but I was wearing blue because I can, and I can’t help but kind of just cheer by raising my fists and clapping because they might get angry at me or something.

    But during the fourth quarter before Howard was missing his two free throws, they kind of told me, “Hey Laker dude, you’re sorry ass team lost tonight”.

    About 1 minute after Howard missed his FTs and LA called time, they were like “what the heck Superman? F*ck that, an F*ck this, etc”. So LA was down by 3 and Tiger Woods was down on his seat, I knew what was going to happen: Kobe will be the decoy in this play and Fish will run down and shoot.

    And the exact thing happened.
    I know I’ve seen better games than this, but I can’t explain what I had just felt, I just shouted at the top of my lungs and said “YEAAAAAHHHHHH!!!”.
    And the Magic fans around me can’t believe what just happened. I saw Tiger look back to me, probably surprised how stupid I was shouting in the huddle of Magic maniacs.

    So, we go into the OT, and everybody was just tensed. Rashard shoots the three, and suddenly my eardrum broke, it was loud as hell. But after that event, the noise was going down and down and down as Kobe made two straight Js and the dudes who just said “Kobe [profane]” said: My God. It’s hurting my eye. This guy has no respect whatsoever”
    So, after a few tense moments, Kobe was posting down low, and I sensed he was not going to shoot this, somebody will (like Ariza or Fisher, but not Kobe).
    And he did, he passed to Fish and the fans around were silent as hell as the ball swished perfectly through the net, after regaining consciousness in 2 seconds, some were starting to say “foul! foul!” and some were just hanging their heads, their “we’re tied 2-2″ body language seemed gone. And after Gasol dunked the ball on the next ensuing Laker possession, others covered their faces and the guys who were just shouting at me we’re sitting in disbelief.

    After the buzzer sounded, after Kobe patted Woods on the chest, I said, “Tiger! Tiger!” and I motioned my hand like Undertaker will, and he smiled, he knows what I just said, it’s all over. :D

  38. Scot, my comment is in moderation (my reply to your answer).

  39. I just want to say:

    Thanks Pau for making this Lakers a championship team.

    You f****** rule!!!

  40. To me, this win ranks up there with some of the most enjoyable and memorable wins — Fisher’s .4 against the Spurs; Kings game 5 in ’02; Portland game 7 in 2000; even back to game 7 of the ’88 finals. Be honest, when Turk hit that floater to put them up 5 (and by the way, keep your tongue in your mouth Hedo, you just missed 3 out of 4 foul shots) did it feel like the Lakers were going to win? And when Dwight is at the line, if he hits just one, the game is over. Even down 3, I didn’t like their chances. Credit PJ for electing to take the ball at the end of the court, and two quick passes from Kobe and Ariza to set up Fish in the open court.

    What a win! Lastly, I was thinking it would be nice to win the championship at Staples, but you know what? Screw it, let’s take Game 5 and rally have some reason for the confetti to come down.

  41. Hey Mamula,
    What’s the link to the article by Chris Sheridan on Dwight Howard? Thanks.

  42. onelove,

    I think this is the article mamula refers to:
    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/playoffs/2009/columns/story?columnist=sheridan_chris&page=magicgame4l-090612

    As for the game, I keep thinking happy thoughts and I’m completely distracted at work this morning.

    Fish has always been a terrific “character guy” as Phil says. He’s articulate, thoughtful, and comes across as modest, hard working, and composed.
    Fisher got a lot of knocks (and rightly so) for his poor shooting and defense throughout the year, but I’ve never heard anyone knock him for attitude, composure, or leadership.

    So my question is: Why wouldn’t the Lakers want to retire his jersey and keep him associated with the team? He is a Laker legend – not on the scale of West, Kareem, Baylor, etc… but he has been an iconic Laker.

  43. @26 thinking the same thing, wife pregnant with my boy, bought a house, and lakers get #15!!! this is the year!

    btw there should be no complaints from magic fans about the refs, lakers were fouled so many times in the 4th without a call, like kobe being fouled by pietrus late in the game on a jumper (even Mark Jackson called this out). At least kobe recognized he wasn’t going to get the calls and passed out of the double teams.

  44. PeanutButterSpread, I say HELL YES. And not just on the legs of this one performance. Remember him coming back from injury way back when and suddenly he was a sharpshooter? I remember Popovich saying, “What happened? Derek Fisher happened.” He totally destroyed the Spurs for a whole series that year with a multitude of bombs. That was a coming out party if there ever was one. And how many clutch plays? In all 4 championships of the decade (presuming a disaster doesn’t happen to the Lakers). I think, yes, if you are the starting point guard on 4 championship teams, you deserve to have your jersey retired.

  45. After a gritty game 4 performance by Kobe in OT against Indiana in the 2000 finals to put the 3-1 chokehold on them, the Lakers seriously mailed in game 5 before winning at home in 6.

    My question: What do you want to see?The best road team in the NBA this year win a championship on the road? Or the boys winning it all at home? Obviously, one more win is the only goal. Winning is never guarenteed (though it sure seems to be here), so every opportunity must be taken and fought hard for. Go for the jugular! Thoughts?

  46. Apricot and Mamula, really great posts.

    Regarding Kobe’s assist to Pau – yes, that was one of the biggest plays of the game but it was forgotten. Kobe showed everyone that the game wasn’t over, and he did it with a beautiful assist, not a pull up 3 in transition.

    Then, he followed it up by ensuring Dwight Howard would not get another three point play. That’s the way you play with intelligence and passion. He sent a clear message to Dwight and the rest of the Magic that you’re not going to beat us – you’re going to have to rip it away from us. The big difference in Kobe’s game versus Tuesday was that he made plays on both ends. He made critical shots – missed a couple as well – but made the right passes and defensive plays, even if they didn’t always end in assists or blocks or steals for Kobe’s box score.

    I live in NY so I don’t have the same “win the ring on your home floor” sentiment as others might have. I’d much rather see the grandest statement of them all on Sunday. Let’s win the ring in game 5 and put the league on notice for 2009-10.

  47. Not to get too philosophical, but I wanted to point one other thing out besides the need to have faith, and that is…

    One play can entirely change the outcome of the game. It can come at the buzzer (or with 4.6 left), but it doesn’t have to be at the end. And it doesn’t have to be by a superstar, it can even be by a bench player.

    Brown’s dunk over birdman completely changed the complexion of that game and the next, and Ariza’s steal and breakaway dunk early in the 3rd qtr did that last night.

    No matter how you’re playing at the moment, no matter how the team is playing at the moment, always remember to play hard. All it takes sometimes is one play by one player to get everyone else going.

  48. The fish who saved the lakers is back!

  49. Contrast Phil’s faith with SVG. What happened to Courtney Lee? What happened to Alston? Reddick had a good stretch (seriously, I just typed that?), but then he disappeared too? Of course, if Fish doesn’t nail that three, then SVG is a genius!

    Fish with a huuuuuuge PUJIT!!!! Now I feel bad for complaining all season long.

  50. Fish is on AM570 right now.

  51. In 5-6 hours KLAC will have their podcasts updated with the Derek Fisher interview with Dan Patrick. Here is the link: http://www.570klac.com/pages/podcasting/

  52. Who was it that was sitting courtside that Kobe went over and hugged after the final buzzer? Was it D-Wade?

  53. Actually, I see that KLAC already has up interviews that took place less than an hour ago, so they probably will have the interview up fairly soon. It is just finishing up as I post this.

  54. #32, Mamula,

    Very observant… and that is a great point on Kobe’s ability to get in people’s heads. Contrast that with the series against Denver, where there also was a lot made of the close friendship between Kobe and Carmelo Anthony, and how close they became during the Olympics. Whenever Melo was asked about it before or during the series he just grinned and said, “Friends? What friend? I don’t even know him this week,” knowing very well that Kobe was taking the same approach. They greeted each other with hugs before each game, and then they played hard, uncompromising, and without a hint of friendship while on the court.

    Melo has been in the series long enough that Kobe couldn’t get in his head the way you suggest he’s done with Howard… for all his faults, Carmelo Anthony has become a lot more of a professional than he used to be, he’s matured. He knows that when you’re on the court, in jerseys of different color, then all off-court ties and friendships are suspended. And he knows that when the game is over, what happened on the court will stay there, and we are friends again.

    Sorry for the ramblings. Um… insert mandatory “Fisher is awesome and we love him!” statement here. :)

    About Fisher: Does anyone else expect him to retire after this season? As he often jokes about in interviews, he is 34 years old, which for an NBA player is very close to retirement age. What better way to go out than by getting your fourth ring? If he does retire, I really hope the Lakers front office realizes what a resource he is and keeps him on as an assistant coach or mentor for the younger players, they way they have with Kareeem. Fisher’s intelligence, work ethic, and character, are all of them qualities that you can’t have too much of on any team.

    Birdman, it sounds like you had a good time at the game! You’re going to the next one too, right? :)

  55. birdman, that is a truly awesome experience you described! i remember you said the day before game 4, lakers were undefeated in this playoffs when you attend the games

    you must be their lucky charm!

  56. Wow, between this game, the .4 shot and the game in Utah where he returned from dealing with his daughter’s eye cancer Willis Reed-style to lead the Jazz to an OT win, Derek Fisher has had an unreal career. Seems like it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

  57. Read my piece on Fisher, pretty please:

    http://antwonomous.blogspot.com/2009/06/derek-fisher-comes-through-fittingly.html

    Thanks

    P.S. Kobe haters are being read their last rites right about now.

  58. …and that is why I love Derek Fisher. He knows how to win. I’m not putting anything past this team, but it’s going to be hard to close on the other team’s floor. I’m still going to drive out to my parents’ house Sunday for the chance to watch a championship with my dad, but I’ve got a feeling I’ll be driving out there Tuesday night as well. I hope I’m wrong.

  59. Birdman…

    The same thing (minus Tiger) happened in my living room here in San Antonio. I was watching with three spurs fans (Thus Laker haters) and I had to endure all the clapping in my face the first half… all the time saying “it’s not the fourth quarter yet” and I sat quietly as the Lakers came back in the third… somehow knowing not to celebrate too soon, the 4th was still coming.. Then with Howard at the line I suffered through more “poking” …”Kobe this Kobe that” Then he missed both… And the stage was set… I’m sure my whole neighborhood heard the “BAM” that came from my mouth the instant Fish hit the 3… AND being that is was MY living room and MY DVR…. I calmly rewind…. I relive… in front of those 3 laker haters…. another “BAM”!!! This one louder than the first (because… I could warm up!) Then came overtime. They pelted me when Orlando hit that first 3, but after that it was all me, and the DVR… punishing those haters.

    Oh the joy in watching them file out after the game….knowing they had experienced the 0.4… And now this…

  60. Look at all the adversity they overcame – the whole front line in foul trouble in the 1st, 16 to 0 free throws in the 4th, down 12 at the half, down 5 with 30 seconds left …

    One big mistake by SVG – when the Lakers take it out of bounds with 11 seconds left at three quarter court, the Magic were clearly suprised as they had been expecting them to take it out at half court. WHY NO TIME OUT? He had 2 time outs left (at least).

    I have a theory: SVG loves media attention (never mind quoting Popovitch in pregame). In game 2, he sets up the Courtney Lee lob beautifully, they run a play to see how the Lakers will react. They take another time out and run a beautiful counter to almost win the game. Everybody says it was brilliant. So SVG, wanting to appear brilliant again if need be, wanted to save his time outs just in case he needed another inbounds miracle play – which they did try with the two time out sequence – and so he doesn’t take the time out to get his defense set.

    Entirely possible, or maybe he just blew it.

  61. Somehow the site was not working for me yesterday, and I didn’t get to revel with you all in the glorious moments. But it’s back up for me now. I didn’t think the expression was literal, but I ended up having a smile on my face to sleep and another one to wake.

    Love it love it love it

    How about faith to triumph after a foul-riddened and offensively stagnant first half? It looked like the Magic were going to blow it wide open for the first 2 quarters. We managed to contain the damage. It looked like we didn’t have any answers for them. 3rd quarter, complete turnaround.

  62. Coffee is For Closers June 12, 2009 at 9:52 am

    Thanks Birdman for the 1st person testimonial – loved it!

    The Lakers showed unbelievable championship metal last night. No matter that the refs sent the Magic to the free throw line 17-0 in the 4th, they let nothing dissuade them from the goal, the prize. The perservered and just kept comming, and stayed poised. I think that’s the ulitimate compliment to PJ. They say teams take on the personality of their coach, and when the margin between winning and losing is so paper thin, the Lakers had the big edge in mental toughness and it made all the difference.

  63. How funny that Nick Anderson was involved in the pregame intro for the Magic …

  64. Another good Kelly Dwyer article, this time about something I haven’t seen a lot of others write about today: The great defense played by both teams.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Behind-the-Box-Score-where-the-Lakers-put-the-h;_ylt=Aj_ErzqmzUu5JkLqfUEN_py8vLYF?urn=nba,169825

  65. I’m one of the guys that owes Fish an apology.

    I’ve been frustrated with his shooting and inability to stay in front of fast point guards during these playoffs. I forgot that what makes Fisher special is the intangibles, his ability to make the huge play at the most momentum changing time. Whether it is drawing a charge or hitting a clutch, dagger three pointer, the word “scrappy” is what defines Derek Fisher.

    So Fish, if you’re out there, my apologies. Phil was right (as usual) and I was very wrong.

    As for officiating, Orlando had this game absolutely gift wrapped for them. Lakers couldn’t buy a free throw and part of the reason Kobe shot so badly (not all the reason, but a big part) was that he got hammered with no call on repeated attempts. Granted, Orlando played great defense on Kobe, but that’s a lot easier to do when you’re allowed to mug a guy.

    No, the Lakers stole this game away DESPITE the officiating not BECAUSE OF the officiating. At the end of the day, when you shoot 17 free throws in the 4th quarter to ZERO by the opposing team, your team cannot blame your loss on officiating.

    Magic fans know, deep down, that their team has nobody to blame but themselves for this loss.

  66. That was one of the most tense, thrilling, satisfying Laker games I have ever seen, going back 30+ years.

    We won despite some extremely dubious officiating. I really admire how the Lakers just manned up and took the game anyway, no one was going to give it to them.

    Also mention must be made of J. Barry’s barely concealed disgust and frustration during the postgame analysis. For him to sort-of-excuse Pietrus’ cheap shot by criticizing Pau for dunking the ball is ridiculous – it was still a two-possession game at that point and it’s overtime in the NBA Finals, you play hard till the buzzer in a close game like that.

    It felt good to see Magic sitting right next to Barry with that big smile on his face.

    7-0 following a loss in these playoffs, very impressive.

  67. I’ve seen a few whines about kobe’s elbow to Nelson and I think it’s out there. Nelson is basically belly to belly with Kobe. Kobe has a right to move his arms in that situation and Nelson put himself at risk being there. Otherwise, everybody should defend everybody else by just standing belly to belly with people so they have no room to do anything. Of all the games for the Magic to complain about officiating, this ain’t the one.

    Having said that, I feel for Magic fans. My young teenage cousin has grown up out there and we may have to agree never to speak of this series again. Curiously, his dad, my uncle, has lived in either Colorado or Orlando for the last 25 years, and used to be the loudest “Shaq will never win a ring” guys I’d ever met in the 90s (Their family actually lived next to Nick Anderson, who had loud parties featuring Mr. O’Neal, so there was some specific beef I’ve never had explained to me in full). Anyways, he called me after game 2 of the Denver series while I was still seething to point out how he had 2 teams hat could possibly win… And it’s looking like both are going down to the Lakers.

    I am completely rambling aren’t I?

    Anyways, considering the parallels to last year’s series, I feel for Magic fans. Doesn’t mean they should blame anything on officials, but I feel them.

  68. Also, I thought the Lakers played phenomenal defense in overtime. The Magic had exactly one field goal in five minutes, which came on their first possession, a crazy 3 in the corner from Lewis that was actually a very good defensive series.

    I know Kobe gets some heat for his shot selection, but you just can’t overlook the two buckets he made immediately following that 3 – they were great shots, under control, and they took all the momentum away from Lewis’ shot right away.

  69. Mimsy/#55:

    I, too, have wondered the same thing about D-Fish after this year, about whether he may decide hang ‘em up if the Lakers win it all. Before last night, I thought the odds were pretty good. Now, I think the odds are even higher, because he just hit two shots that will go down in Laker history.

  70. I wanted to bring this thought over from last post, but for all the flak Kobe is bound to take for his offensive struggles, I thought tonight was a first-team all defensive performance from him. After our entire frontcourt was essentially lost for the 1st half, he went to war defensively in the paint – aggressively fronting Lewis to deny the easy catch, boxing out Howard, stripping the ball from him in the paint, crashing the glass – huge effort that was really, really needed in such a close game. Even the last play when he had to switch onto Howard in the post, he was able to fight and push him out further away from the hoop to deter the easy catch that never came. How many other shooting guards in this league are that comfortable in the paint defensively?

    Also, I want to disagree with SVG – despite how he spins that a lack of Finals experience isn’t what’s killing his team, you have to think it is, right? In such a close series where it really hinges on a couple of key plays, we’ve made them and they’ve shot themselves in the foot. Like Kurt said, we have faith in our experiences last year, and they don’t.

  71. Look at the article on pietrus’ flagrant:

    No suspension? That’s ok.
    No fine? What?

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/playoffs/2009/news/story?id=4253869

  72. Great behind-the-scenes look at Phil, from Eric Neel (the only Laker fan over at ESPN it seems):

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/eticket/story?page=090612/phil

  73. Not Charlie Rosen June 12, 2009 at 10:29 am

    It was before game 5 at Denver that I posted here something like, “You know, at some point, Fisher is going to have a brilliant game, hit some critical 3′s, and we’re all going to come back here talking about how wise Phil is to stick with him, that’s why he’s on the bench and we’re not, yadda yadda yadda.”

    I love, love, love eating crow like this.

  74. No fine for Pietrus’s flagrant? He made two fists and hit Gasol in the back with them. How does that not deserve a fine? If he just pushed him with open hands than, not getting a fine would be ok. But he hit him with closed fists.

  75. I went to game 4 and it was fantastic. There were tons of laker fans in the house. Great game, one of the best this playoffs. 1 more to go. Part of me wants them to close it out in la to see the trophy celebration but it the NBA you never want to give your oponent a chance if you cab close it out.

  76. Hey Laker fans,

    I am NOT trying to stir the pot here. I posed this question to Magic fans as well. I am, to preface, a Magic fan and unlike MANY people in my current residential state of Arizona, I am NOT a Laker hater. I am happy that the Magic are, at least for most of the games, putting up a fight and I can’t NOT respect the excellent play of Bryant, Fisher, Odom and. . .well. . .Gasol (more on that in a minute).

    With that recent LeBron sillyness (not shaking hands, etc) I am just curious. . .and I guess I’m setting myself up here and looking like a sore loser (which I am trying not to be). . .but I’m curious, from a Lakers’ fans perspective, how you feel about the way the Lakers are closing out some of the games.

    Examples: hitting a three pointer at the 4th quarter buzzer in Game 1 when up by 22 and going for the ‘rub it in’ slam with 2 seconds left with a 5 point lead. Yes, Pietrus’ hikeeba chop was not ENTIRELY justified so I am not defending it. . .but from a fan of the winning team: did that rub you the wrong way even though you were winning? Did you say ‘the more we can pound these guys the better?’ Or was it. . .’it is what it is’.

    In a 3-1 hole I look like I’m crying about anything but I was raised thinking. . .’if you won, you won. You don’t rub it in’. That’s because, growing up in Florida, we’d watch Steve Spurrier throw Hail Mary touchdowns against Wake Fores/Duke (whoever sucked at football) and win 85-3 just to rub it in.

    I suspect some serious answers and I expect some ‘quit whining Magic loser’ but. . .I was just curious. Was it classless or is it the way it is? Eitherway, on a whole, just so I can observe SOME objectivity, I just wanted to say I am looking for some viewpoints. . .not trying to stir the pot.

  77. Mimsy, Brian, I don’t like the idea of Fisher retiring after this year. I guess I hadn’t thought about it. It would be a good way to go out, but I hope he doesn’t do it. We need him. I hope we can resign Ariza and Odom because if we can keep this team together we won’t be done after this year. I still want a rematch with the Celtics. I won’t be happy until the Lakers pass them for all-time championships. I’m going to enjoy what seems now like an inevitable championship, but I’m already thinking about next year.

  78. That Eric Neel piece on P{hil Jackson made me think: Given all the things we said about Philk Jackson on this blog earlier in the post-season, maybe we owe him an apology too?

    The difference between a solid title contender and a true champion is the willingness and more importantly the ability to do whatever it takes to win. Perhaps we should have remembered that you don’t win 9 rings without knowing what you’re doing, and that even though he doesn’t always make sense, he does want to win this series as much or more as anyone else, and he’ll do whatever he can to make that happen.

    Yes, I’m primarily calling myself out here, but I remember several other posters (no names ;) ) who strongly questioned Phils’ competence and coaching ability. Maybe we need to eat some crow for that as well.

    Sorry I doubted you coach.

  79. Apricot – Great, great point about the differences between 0.4 and 4.6. It takes a lot more faith, confidence, strength–whatever you want to call it–to shoot that 4.6 shot than it does to take the 0.4 shot. Same reason Farmar is so good at shooting right before halftime.

    0.4 was an amazing thing for fans, but this was Fisher’s greatest moment.

  80. @77 Will

    I don’t think it was classless. I think the Magic were up by 5 with under a minute left in regulation & the ball…and they ended up going to OT. In the finals, no margin lead is safe at any time. Crazy things can happen. Take every opportunity. It wasn’t like the Lakers were up by 20 & making that play. It was only 5. Four point plays, flagrants, techs…anything can happen in seconds, and with the way the game has been officiated lately, you just never know.

    I don’t think you are whining. I also don’t think it was classless by Pau…got to ensure the victory. Period.

  81. Mimsy, there is a reason one of the links on this site is “anything by Eric Neel.” He is a fantastic, smart writer with a great perspective. (And, it turns out, a fan of this site.)

  82. This is why it’s so hard to ‘rate’ Fisher as a player. Objectively we all know he’s slow, undersized, streaky, a poor finisher, takes some questionable shots, and doesn’t run the smoothest fast break. But how do you put a value on the cojones it took to knock down those 3s when the team needed it most?

    79

    I think we’ve questioned just about everyone on the Lakers staff at some point this season (I know I have). That’s what the forum is for, to allow us play armchair coach/GM/point guard from the safety of our computers. :P

  83. #77, Will,

    Think of it this way: It’s the last round of the heavy weight championship. The champion is staggering… losing on points, can’t get his hands up, and there’s only a few seconds left on the clock. Do you go for the knockout, or do you do the classy thing and just wait out the clock?

    My answer is: That depends on how you want him to feel going into the rematch in three months.

    It’s not about “rubbing it in”, it’s about making a statement. It’s a part of the mental game, it’s about sending a message to the Magic players and coaching staff. And from that point of view I don’t think it’s poor sportsmanship at all. It’s the smart thing to do, it drive home over and over the point that if you want to win this, you have take it from us, and that will not be easy.

    They’re just sending a message.

  84. Some people are hammering Kobe for his poor shooting, etc. in the Finals. Now, I’m not a huge proponent of the MJ/Kobe comparisons, but look at MJ’s statline from the 1998 finals compared to Kobe’s this year:

    MJ ‘98: 33.5 pts/4 reb/2.3 ast/42% shooting

    Kobe ‘09: 33.0 pts/5.5 reb/8.0 ast/42% shooting

    I’m just sayin’….

  85. 77 Will:
    Its been said by others above your post, but…
    When Pau was throwing it down the game was by no means over. It was only a two possession game with way more than 2 seconds left. The surest way to make a basket is to throw it down. This is not “rubbing it in”

  86. You know, I’ve never embraced Phil Jackson. I think it’s because I hated those Bulls teams so much, but he obviously knows what he is doing. I am happy to have him. Much has been made of that Blazers comeback in I don’t remember what year, but I do remember this: during the timeout when we were down 15 in the fourth, Phil Jackson told the team something to the effect of forget about Shaq. We can’t get the ball to him so forget about him. We know we went on to win that game and the series. Great players did the work, but we don’t win that game without a coach smart enough to scrap everything we’d done all year to win a game. Yes, he’s always had superstars on his teams, but a lot of superstars have failed to win a championship, or win more than one. The guy must know what he is doing.

  87. @Mimsy and Jane,

    I never though about it that way (and that’s probably where the bias comes in, I guess). Thanks for those great points. I was really expecting to get slaughtered on here for the statement. haha.

  88. Will,
    Just a note on that game 1 3ptr. It was Powell who shot it – the first 3ptr in his career I think – and the shot clock was at 1sec, with 2-3 seconds left in the game. Normally a team will cast up a shot at that point in the game to at least use up as much of the clock as possible and, if they miss, to use up even more clock.

    Powell may be able to his the 18ftr from the elbow consistently, but not a 3. Therefore, I wouldn’t really take offense if I were the Magic.

  89. No matter how you feel about Pau’s dunk, there’s no way or reason a two-fisted tomahawk to the shoulder is justified. One is a 10000000% legal basketball play, the other looked like a knife-less attempt to make the OJ hall of fame. No matter what a guy says to you, you don’t risk beer bottles being thrown on the court by breaking an imaginary chair over his head.

  90. Btw, I don’t know how many of you have started frequenting Dex’s blog since Reed linked to it (it’s fantastic), but he posted this first on June 3rd, and again yesterday:

    http://k24-8.blogspot.com/2009/06/poem-for-game-day-in-honor-of-derek.html

    It gave me a lump in my throat after last night.

  91. @Will: I don’t think Pau was rubbing it in or sending a message or any such thing. He’s a center. You give him the ball when he’s standing open next to the basket, he’s going to dunk it. Players go on adrenaline and aren’t always thinking. Just ask Jameer Nelson what he was thinking backing away from Fisher.

    Now if he goes for a monster dunk and screams and thumps his chest then yeah that’s uncalled for.

  92. Will, I think Jane and Mimsy have alrady addressed your question – but I will lend my support to them. It was only a 5 point lead. That’s only two buckets (and I thought there was something like 6 seconds left).

    At 8- 10 points I can see your point.

    The three in game 1 – probably unnecessary.

    One other point on Gasol. I wonder if he was pissed off. He got clubbed in the face. He (Lakers) sure wasn’t getting any love from the officials last night in the 4th and OT. That too could have played into it.

  93. Will I too have to agree with MImsy. Pau’s dunk was hardly rubbing it in. He was probably expecting the Magic to foul so he went up for the dunk when he found himself under the basket with the ball. If it was a 10 pt game, then maybe it could be called rubbing it in.

  94. I agree. No justification for what he did. I know he was probably frustrated with losing the game, but this wasn’t a game in December. This was an NBA Finals game. Regardless of the score at the time, or time left, you score if you get an open look. I’ll forgive the guy, but it was the wrong move.

  95. Will/#77:

    It’s a fair question. What I think it does is illustrate the difference between the Finals and the regular season. I would have killed Powell for taking that 3 if that would have been some game in January. But this is the Finals. He doesn’t know if he’ll ever get back, or if he’ll get another minute in the series, so I don’t fault him for taking that shot. Besides, since the shot clock was expiring he didn’t violate the unwritten rule about dribbling out the clock. His stat line was either going to show a missed (or made) FG, or a turnover.

    As for Pau’s dunk – nothing comes close to justifying Pietrus’ foul. Nothing. He basically hit Pau in the back with two closed fists while Pau was in the air. I’m of the mind that he should have at least been fined. Aside from that, it was a 5 pt game at the time. Sure, it’s unlikely that you’re going to lose a 5 pt lead with 5 seconds left, but it’s not impossible. Better to leave no doubt.

  96. The Dude Abides June 12, 2009 at 11:51 am

    77. Will, to add to the other replies: we are the ones who can see the clock wind down on our TV sets, but the players are the ones playing out the game. The final play of the game started with over 20 seconds left on the Magic’s final possession and a 5-pt lead for the Lakers, the Magic missed the shot, the Lakers rebounded, then tried to play keepaway as long as possible and let the clock run down until the inevitable Magic foul. The players are not clock-watching at that point, because if you take your eye off the ball, you might miss it being passed to you. So, the Magicians were about to foul Ariza, he passed to Pau under the basket, and Pau took the shot instead of waiting to be fouled and having to shoot FTs.

    Rodney Rogers won a game in the 1990s with nine points on three 3-pointers in the final ten seconds with his team down by eight. Reggie Miller won an Eastern Conference Finals game against the Knicks with his team down by six with eight seconds left. He hit a three, then stole the inbounds pass and dribbled out past the 3-point line and hit another three at the buzzer and the Pacers won in OT. You can’t take any chances on missing FTs, so you take the dunk when it’s offered to you. It’s not piling on at all, it’s about winning.

  97. To Will (#77):

    Counter question to answer your question. How badly would the Magic have liked to have 2 extra points, in the last 2 seconds of the fourth quarter.

    Competing hard until the buzzer sounds is respectful. It shows that you take your opponent seriously, are not underestimating their will and ability to fight back.

    Pietrus displayed nothing short of angry frustration, and took it out on Gasol’s unprotected back. He crossed the line from competing into retaliating.

    That the league has not fined or suspended him merely adds another note to the cacophony of asinine “judgments” handed down by the league. (See also: Rondo’s Right Hook to Miller)

    Between the officiating, and I use the term loosely, and the lack of consistent enforcement of the “tone” the league wishes to set, the league is hurting itself with it’s fan base.

    Imagine, if you will, Kobe doing that to Turkoglu at the end of the game. The howls for Kobe’s suspension would deafen the eastern seaboard.

    Further imagine Ron Artest committing that foul. There would be demands for his expulsion.

    Either way, Gasol showed tremendous restraint in not retaliating himself.

    Perhaps our favorite Spaniard knows that Revenge is best enjoyed by admiring your Championship Ring.

  98. Never justified Pietrus’ foul. . .never would, never will. I wouldn’t mind a wrap up but the double-fisted hammer shot is a bit much!

  99. Kurt, someone told me I should return the favor of posting a link to my Fish article on here by posting a link to FB&G. I would, but no one reads my site, that’s why I had to post the link in the first place. Every Lakers fan with access to a mousepad has read yours, which is why I posted it here. Keep bringing that Lakers-centric analysis, you have the best team-oriented blog out there.

  100. On a different note: How close are the Lakers to winning this thing?

    Well if you allow me to take a nice little quasi-scientific approach, I’d estimate their chances as follows:

    Game 5: Chance of winning 50%
    Game 6: Chance of winning 70%
    Game 7: Chance of winning 70%
    (Arbitrary you say? Oh pleaseee!)

    Hence their chance of winning is:
    1- (.5 * .3 * .3) = .955
    (I’m very the proud of the fact that I’m using the american decimal system for your viewing pleasure;))

    So anyway, it’s hereby official:
    We have a 95,5 percent chance of raising the trophy!

  101. More for Will…

    Echoing others–the Pau dunk at the end was non rubbing-it-in or poor sportsmanship. The game was a 2 possession game with time on the clock–and this is the Finals, you can’t assume that the other team’s going to fold with 10 seconds left.

    Moreover, the Magic hadn’t conceded the game. Immediately before Ariza made the pass to Pau, it appeared that Magic defenders were racing in to foul Ariza and send him to the line–they still wanted another shot at the ball. Great head’s up play by Ariza to burn clock, extend the lead, and put the game on ice by feeding Gasol for the dunk.

    The poor sportsmanship came out in Pietrus’s ugly, cheapshot.

  102. Amazing win last night for the Lakers. I’ve been a fan my whole life and it was just thrilling. Gutsy play all around.

    @Will #77: I think Josh Powell’s 3 in Game 1 was a little absurd, but I’m also sure he didn’t expect to make it. Since the shot clock was ahead of the game clock, the Lakers had to do something. Sasha probably should have shot it with about 3 seconds left, but it hardly matters.

    Last night was very different: ask Reggie Miller or Tracy McGrady whether 5 points can be overcome in 2 seconds. Pau did the right thing to put the game out of reach. Pietrus’s foul was just stupid and risky and unnecessary. I don’t want him suspended because then everybody will cry foul, so to speak, on the Lakers winning game 5 when he isn’t there to guard Kobe, but no fine is RIDICULOUS.

    @85 Lalla: thanks for that. That’s fantastic stuff. Kobe is tired – anybody can see that in that wide-open 3 he missed (he was probably surprised he had that much space and thought about it too much) – but he gave it all every play. Can’t ask for more. And those two quick scores to erase Lewis’s 3 at the start of OT were huge.

  103. A lovely column arguing that this is Kobe’s best postseason ever:
    http://thepaintedarea.blogspot.com/2009/06/kobe-bryants-best-playoffs-ever.html

  104. Cayucos Surfer June 12, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Am i reading this correctly? From ESPN:

    “That non-call against Kobe and another, when the Magic managed to get Bryant switched onto Howard for the final play of regulation but Bryant practically mugged Howard to keep him from breaking toward the basket, were two more of the myriad subchapters to the story of this incredible game — episodes that prompted all manner of questions that Pietrus repeatedly answered with three words: “He’s Kobe Bryant.”

    So after a ridiculous and almost unheard of 17-0 FT count in the final quarter.. it’s somehow the Lakers that received help from the officials?

  105. Assuming we take care of business and win one more game, there are 2 HUGE differences that turned this Finals around for us.

    1) I watched old Laker highlights on YouTube during halftime of Game 4 to get pumped up. I watched old Worthy, Cooper and 2001 highlights before Games 1 & 2 (both wins), but didn’t watch old Laker clips during Game 3 (a loss). Thankfully, last night I remembered to watch Laker clips on YouTube of Rick Fox and the 2000 game 7 comeback vs. Portland, which was clearly key to our 3rd quarter comeback in Game 4

    2) Why are we not talking about Josh Powell for Finals MVP? Without his 2nd quarter jumper last night, we don’t even make it to OT, and let’s not forget the valuable rest time he gave Gasol and Odom. What do you all think? :) :)

  106. Also, although I agree the 17-0 disparity in FTs in the 4th was a little absurd, the Lakers were playing really aggressive D and got into the penalty early. Once there (around the 8:00 mark), every foul goes to the line.

    The travesty is not the 17 but the 0. Orlando did get called for fewer fouls than any other team this season, but seriously… zero is just abominable.

    The Lakers pulled it out anyway. No excuses needed.

  107. Quote from cavsblog.com

    “But they didn’t go in, and now Kobe’s about to win the most important ring of his career. You know what? Good for him. Sometimes the breaks are going to go your way, and when that happens you should just be grateful. And all of a sudden the Gasol feed, the Fisher pass, and the hard foul on Howard become the plays that needed to be made for the Lakers to pull it out. He didn’t do everything, he wasn’t perfect, and a lot of times he wasn’t even good, but somehow, some way, he did enough.”

  108. You know the guy who goes to Vegas every month and spends a few grand at the tables? He comes to work the next Monday strung out from a weekend burnt on both ends. He subsists on canned fish and crackers for a few days just to get to his next paycheck. Every few months he comes back from Vegas and can eat normally. Once or twice a year he comes back from Vegas and takes you with a few buddies out to a steak dinner on his winnings. Granted Fish earned a steak dinner on the biggest stage but damn, I don’t know how rational a response it is we are making in considering Phil’s strategy as brilliant. You can gamble on marginally effective veterans and look smarter then anyone else when they hit a few shots in critical stages but it’s not as if Fish might not have made Phil look like an even bigger genius if he’d hit some of these shots last year too. Fish hit the shots. I am fully taken up in the joy of this journey and seeing Fish’s smile is a thing of beauty. That won’t keep me from thinking that the Lakers have options on the bench that might have put the game in position to not require something semi-miraculous from Fish. I will be very pleased if Fish retires after earning a ring this week and that the Lakers will have some money freed up to get Sessions or some other such player who’ll be effective (at least at stopping dribble penetration from the 1), and at a higher level, for years to come. That said, I’ll enjoy the rest of this season. I’m already running out of things to do that keep me from accomplishing other tasks in the day and I am not looking forward to that gap between the end of the Finals and the opening of training camp.

    I am definitely happy trading this ending to the season for last year’s even if we did have the Redeem Team to look forward to.

    BTW, Obama won the office in 2008 and I relate his presidency with 2008 and the team that won it that year.

  109. 101. I’m no master of statistics, but I think for that formula to hold true, the three events would all have to be independent of each other. Even accepting your %s as gospel, it’s a stretch to say whatever the Magic would need to pull off to win games 5 & 6 would bear no influence (or predictive value) re: game 7.

    106. fair enough, but I was thinking inauguration. Just as the pregnancy was last summer, but the birth was 2009. If it’s a stretch, hey, it’s worth it (at least to me)…

    Final thought on the Pau dunk– I think a C dunking in that situation is completely a different animal even than a guard throwing it down, as the guard would have the skills presumably to handle the ball and race it away from the basket whereas Pau would have been looking at free throws. Comparing Pau’s dunk to, say, the Josh Howard under the leg disaster in the Atlanta series underscores this idea. In terms of the Powell game 1 three, it’s common for the refs to tell a player ‘you’ve got to shoot’ in that situation. Doesn’t mean the player can’t decide to take the turnover instead, but Powell shooting a 3… well, I’m sure he was stunned when it went it.

  110. Furthering my goal of not getting a single ounce of work done today (aka not billing a single .1 to any file), I hereby present a link to Bill Simmons’ retro-diary for the 4th Q/OT in Game 4:
    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/090612&sportCat=nba

    You won’t believe it – hell, I scarcely believed it myself, but it’s a pretty fair summation. Including these nuggets:

    “1:14 (4th): Kobe waves his teammates away, goes one-on-five, drives into the lane and draws a block on Nelson. No free throws because Orlando isn’t even in the penalty yet. Why? Because the Magic have been getting every call for four quarters. (See Laker fans? And you thought I wouldn’t mention this.) In fact, over a 16:53 stretch from the fourth quarter until the last three seconds of overtime, Orlando attempted 18 free throws and L.A. attempted zero. Zero!!!! How is that possible? That stat alone makes me wonder if Game 4 was more of a “greatest comeback” than a “greatest choke.” But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.”

    “1:57 (OT): Just a yucky extended sequence here: Steal by the Lakers (another bad Orlando possession); missed floater by Kobe (rectangle offense again); Hedo passes up a wide-open 3 (even the Mr. Clutch of Turkey looks nervous now); Howard misses a 4-footer in traffic; offensive rebound by Orlando; Lewis misses a drive (superb defense by L.A.); Howard yanks Gasol’s jersey on the rebound and somehow doesn’t get whistled (SFTHLDFC Scoreboard: Lakers 2, Orlando 0); and Kobe airballs a contested jumper that looked like a Pietrus touch foul (SFTHLDFC Scoreboard: Lakers 3, Orlando 0). Let’s edit that last two minutes from the ESPN Classic replay. I never want to see it again.”

    “1:27 (OT): Hedo misses a runner but Orlando gets bailed out by a putrid loose ball foul on Fisher, who lightly shoved Howard on the rebound as Howard was shoving Gasol to the ground. (SFTHLDFC Scoreboard: Lakers 4, Orlando 0.) Terrible. Come on. Of course, Howard makes one of two. (Fifteen FT misses for Orlando to this point. Staggering.) Tie game.”

    “0:31 (OT): Kobe bricks a fallaway jumper in traffic with 17 guys on him; unfortunately for the Magic, Nelson hooks Gasol’s arm while boxing him out for the rebound. Laker ball. That’s followed by Kobe trying to post up Pietrus on the high post, Nelson coming over to double-team him, Kobe swinging around and nailing Nelson with a Macho Man Savage-esque elbow to the face (no call), Nelson going down in a heap (SFTHLDFC Scoreboard: Lakers 4, Orlando 1), Kobe finding Fisher at the top of the key … bang!!!!! Lakers by three. It’s like Robert Horry is controlling Fisher’s character in a video game right now. By the way, that was the Buckner Error. The Game 6 circle is complete.

    You know what? I’d be more angry about the no-call on the elbow if the Lakers hadn’t gotten screwed by calls all game. With that said … that was like the Jordan/Russell shove in that an illegal play should have been called (and wasn’t), and that play partially decided the game. Which always sucks. On the other hand, Fisher made the two biggest shots of this game and nobody on Orlando stepped up. Howard’s last field goal came at the 11:12 mark of the third quarter. Orlando made one field goal in the last 6:30 of the game (including OT). Turkoglu went scoreless in the last 6:30. Lewis scored six points and missed eight of 10 shots. The free-throw disparity was so obnoxious that Orlando missed as many freebies as L.A. made. Did the Magic do anything to WIN this game? No. The Lakers fought for it and they deserved it. Period.

    (Eddie from L.A. summed this up nicely: “Derek Fisher to Laker fans is what Dave Roberts is to Red Sox fans. I cannot describe him in any other way that you can understand what he means to us.” Got it. Well-said.)”

    This might be the fairest article towards the Lakers that I’ve read yet from Mr. BS (and I’m actually a big fan of his – I just take what he says about the Lakers with a grain of salt). He’s a little hard on Kobe at certain points, but frankly, he was right about the criticism (although he does omit that Jordan shot pretty poorly during some of the Finals, as was pointed out earlier in the comments).

  111. *in*

  112. well, here it is:
    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/090612&sportCat=nba

    my apologies if this has already been observed; but it’s obvious from this that BS does indeed read this blog!

  113. Echoing that faith theme, let’s not overlook that Bynum’s defense on Howard was a key part of the third quarter run.

  114. Never once did I doubt Derek Fisher and demand that he be replaced in the lineup by Brown or Farmar. Fisher is a rarity in this world, a man with honor and faith (look up)!

    Now if we can find a good backup next season, so that we can preserve Fisher’s legs until the playoff he will do the same thing next year.

    Today, is Fisher’s day! To show my appreciation for him I’ll order the Derek Fisher for dinner (that’s fish at any place that I decide to have supper)! We should all make a run on the fish market today by ordering fish for dinner!

  115. j.d. Hastings June 12, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    You know, Earth had a good run. I’ll miss her now that the apocalypse is apparently coming soon:

    Bill Simmons: “1:14: Kobe waves his teammates away, goes one-on-five, drives into the lane and draws a block on Nelson. No free throws because Orlando isn’t even in the penalty yet. Why? Because the Magic have been getting every call for four quarters. (See Laker fans? And you thought I wouldn’t mention this.) In fact, over a 16:53 stretch from the fourth quarter until the last three seconds of overtime, Orlando attempted 18 free throws and L.A. attempted zero. Zero!!!! How is that possible? That stat alone makes me wonder if Game 4 was more of a “greatest comeback” than a “greatest choke.” But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.”

  116. New Bill Simmons story up and it’s really quite enjoyable, he’s quite a funny guy when not bashing the Lakers!

  117. you know the officiating is bad when even bill simmons acknowledges we were getting burned

  118. Simmons even calls the Ariza trade to the Lakers last season one of the secretly dumbest trades of the decade.

  119. Irony = Bill S is the only guy who is talking about the free throw disparity.

    Could one of the more level headed posters on this blog talk me out of the sense that the officials were trying to keep the Magic in the game?

  120. @77 – Will

    As others have mentioned, Josh Powell was the one who hit the 3-pointer in Game 1 and he had up to that point 3 career 3-point attempts with no makes. The shot clock would have ended before the game clock so he could have either shot it or taken the turnover. So if you’re going to shoot it, you might as well try to make it, right? As others have said, he’s been a career journeyman and who knows if he’ll have the chance again in the Finals? I’m sure he was surprised it went in.

    I don’t it consider it classless the same way I don’t consider Dwight Howard’s 3-point attempt at the end of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals classless. Remember, the Magic were up 23 on Cleveland and Howard shot a 3-pointer before the buzzer and missed. It this case though, the Magic got the ball back with 8 seconds so he didn’t need to shoot the ball. No big deal. Although I did read some comments from Cavs fans that used Howard’s shot as justification for Lebron and Mo Williams to walk off the court without shaking anyone’s hands.

  121. You know the officiating was bad when Bill Simmons is complaining about the Lakers getting jobbed…

  122. lil’ pau: You’re right of course, and hence the “quasi” part;)

    Although if I had to venture a guess about the percentage, I’d go with something in that region.

  123. Will, I know everyone else has already responded, but I’ll toss in my two cents. I think you took too much of a beating for asking a legitimate question. Personally, I say in the NBA Finals you do whatever it takes to ensure victory and send a message, but you asked a legitimate question.

  124. You know, Earth had a good run. I’ll miss her now that the apocalypse is apparently coming soon:

    Don’t worry, we’re not quite there yet… when the Clippers make a run for the Conference championship, then we can start worrying!

  125. SEE!! I told you guys you would warm up to Simmons when all the cards were on the table and the lakers were getting jobbed instead.

    This is an olive branch. Embrace it.

  126. btw, I don’t know if it has been linked yet, but I really liked 20secondtimeout’s game recap. Good Friedman stuff.

  127. Sorry for the triple post, but I expect on PTI For Mike Wilbon to go and on about how this was a major chokejob (he was on the Dan Patrick show today saying as much)…sigh.

    So it’s refreshing for Simmons to admit we took it, it wasn’t given up. It’s been THAT kind of a finals: dogs and cats living together, enemies becoming allies, mass hysteria.

  128. You know, I’m a little bit offended whenever the Magic play the Superman theme song for Dwight Howard. He’s an amazing rebounder, but he’s got no shot. Shaq didn’t have much of a shot, but he’s got four rings. Win four rings and then call yourself Superman. Until then, Dwight, you aren’t.

  129. Could one of the more level headed posters on this blog talk me out of the sense that the officials were trying to keep the Magic in the game?

    I’m not sure I’m among the most level-headed posters here, but I’ll give it a shot.

    First off the crowd was loud and probably intimidating, and a certain home court advantage is to be expected. That’s why teams fight so hard for home court for the playoffs, because it does matter.

    Second, if they were trying to keep the Magic in the game they were not doing a very good job of it. The way Howard was shooting free throws, a string of no-calls would have helped him and his team a lot more.

    Third and most importantly, anyone who has ever worked in Customer Service knows that the key to stalling and weaseling out of doing anything more than the bare minimum for a customer is to not be caught doing it. By the inconsistency, the complete lack of fouls called on the Magic in an entire quarter, and by almost fouling Bynum out for having the audacity to glare at Howard, the refs drew attention to themselves. If they want to be able to control the outcome of the game, the last thing they should want is close scrutiny by anyone.

    Also, calling fouls on the Lakers just as they were getting into a rhythm would have broken up their defense, made it harder for them to focus on offense, and would probably have caused more problems in the 4th quarter than never hearing a whistle. Consistent non-calls can be adjusted to, and the Lakers adjusted.

    So here’s my theory: If the refs were trying to control the outcome of the game they did it in a backwards and very stupid and ineffective way. It is far more likely that there was nothing rigged or fixed about last night’s officiating at all. They’re just that incompetent.

  130. I love Derek Fisher. He has impeccable character and is an incredible leader. There is no one else that I would rather see taking a fourth quarter shot at the buzzer (except maybe Kobe). However, he has clearly been a starter on this team for too long. On the average night against an average opponent he can no longer defend his position. In these playoffs I can think of countless games where his defense has hurt the team.

    I am not trying to make a case for benching Fisher. To the contrary, if used properly he is still a formidable asset (as evidenced last night). But in my opinion we are still about 1 year overdue (perhaps more) for a change in starting point guard position. I would start Jordan next year an bring Derek off the bench when his veteran skills are needed most. What do you think?

  131. Ray

    Does that mean all of San Diego owes the world an apology for taking the name L.T. from its rightful owner?

    Also the shock and awe at people’s response to perspective. Too many built Simmons up as the “professional Laker hater.” It turns out, they were wrong.

  132. j.d. Hastings June 12, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    126- What if the Arizona Cardinals or Tampa Bay Devil Rays make it to a championship round in their respective sports?

  133. j.d. Hastings June 12, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    130, 131- nobody even seems remotely bothered by the fact that both Kenyon and Kevin Martin are referred to as “K-Mart.” And Andre Iguodala stole the “A.I.” name from Iverson IN THE TOWN THAT IVERSON MADE HIS NAME. Nickname bigamy is sadly par for the course these days.

  134. 87. Ray Sharpe, I hated those Bulls teams too. But all is forgiven, Phil!

    I was really struck at halftime, and we can laugh about this now, by the difference in the Wired segments between the coaches. SVG was upbeat talking about keeping effort up, etc. The Laker locker room looked down, maybe pissed at themselves, and Phil ambles out and I wait for him to say something inspirational. Instead, he says calmly, so calmly that he’s deep into old-fogey-mumbling territory, “We had some trouble in that first half, staying aggressive… and I think we’re playing some things wrong…” and he starts to roll film and the segment ends. And I think to myself, what the heck was that, do you really call that a Wired segment?? But in retrospect, it did capture the locker room vibe. Tired, pissed and Phil being dead calm.

    And amazingly enough, whatever adjustments he suggested seemed to work (probably along the lines of swarming Lewis and Turk and passing out of paint traffic to open shooters).

    During the Bulls years I bitterly thought they got straight-up lucky by all the times they won in last minute situations (and not just because of Jordan/Pippen).

    Then during the Shaq-Kobe days, after the Portland comeback and a raft of other apparently lucky wins in the last seconds, I thought, you know maybe there is something to this coaching for calm execution.

    And today, I am pretty much convinced. If you look at Phil’s teams, they just win an improbable proportion of “lucky” games.

    My theory is this. Most playoff series are close and most teams have “lucky” chances to win. They “turn on a trifle” as Phil has been saying. Yesterday, if Fish misses the 3, you could say the Magic were lucky that Kobe missed the open 3 and that they got so many more FTs. You often need luck to win, but most games do have some luck there for the grasping by the calm and prepared.

    So I think I’ll go meditate before Game 5 because this series is giving my heart problems.

  135. “Too many built Simmons up as the “professional Laker hater.” It turns out, they were wrong.”

    Ray, Let’s not get crazy here. Simmons refers to HIMSELF as a professional Laker hater, and one article where he doesn’t completely disparage them does not change that. He still is what he is. And he know’s when he’s licked, too. It’s just a concession of reality…nothing more.

  136. *oops, I mean Ben, not Ray…my bad!! (My comment is in moderation, that will make sense later…)

  137. Why start Jordan instead of Shannon Brown you say? Because if Phil allows him to be aggressive, his speed will add an offensive and defensive dimension to this team that will make us unstoppable.

  138. Ben, I didn’t mean to come across as condescending, I get a little carried away sometimes. I really mean no disrespect to Dwight Howard, and I definitely respect Ladanian Thomlinson, but to answer your question, yes I think there is only one LT and one Superman. Fairly or unfairly, history ultimately judges a player by his rings. Memory fades, but the ring is what people remember.

  139. Thanks, Birdman, for your great eyewitness report. Kobe talks about how he gets more of a thrill silencing a hostile crowd on the road than generating cheers at home. Sounds like you got a similar thrill sitting in the quieted Orlando crowd after being scorned for most of the game.

    As a Lakers season ticket holder, I feel the slightest bit torn because it would be awesome to see in person the team go for a championship at home. But the Lakers fanatic in me always kicks in when I’m watching on TV, and I have no doubt I’ll be screaming for the boys to finish the job in Orlando and not further tempt fate. There are too many variables that can occur — injuries, suspensions, illness — for us not to want to root to end the series on Sunday night.

    That being said, it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if Orlando wins on Sunday. This series has paralleled last season’s Finals eerily: home team wins first three games, and then the road team secures a stunning come-back win in game four. Remember how the Lakers, despite the body blow in Game 4 last year, won game 5 at home because no home team wants to see the road team lifting the golden ball “in their house.” We’ll see if history repeats itself or whether the Lakers make their own kind of history on Sunday.

  140. Apricot, I totally agree. I’ll probably never be able to embrace Phil Jackson, I really hate those Bulls teams so much that I can’t think rationally. I’m definitely glad that he is coaching the Lakers. You make a very good point. The Bulls seemed to get a lot of lucky wins, but the Lakers also seem to get a lot of lucky wins. It’s got to come down to coaching. There’s definitely something to be said for his calming influence. Honestly, I don’t know how he does it. I’m screaming at my television and he’s sitting there calmly on the bench, waiting for it to ride out. He’s definitely smarter than me.

  141. Mimsy,
    That was the most innovative defense of “the officials were not trying to throw the game to Orlando” charge (#131) that I have ever seen in any game. Congratulations!

  142. What can I say, I have a twisted mind… Thanks, glad you enjoyed it. :)

  143. I always use the SportsGuy moniker for Tomlinson- LDT.

    Its just wrong to steal someone else’s nickname.

  144. j.d. Hastings June 12, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    145, PJ- aren’t YOU stealing Phil Jackson’s monicker??? [Insert accusing soap opera cliffhanger music here]

  145. khjohn, I am not a proponent of giving a basketball player a position, I think that a position is earned during the off season and during training camp. If Farmar is ready to be a starter Fisher could never stop him, and PJ would be smart enough to recognize that a changing of the guard was in order.
    Luke Walton (by the way, he has been playing well off the bench in limited minutes) knew when it was best for the team for him to hand Ariza his position, right? The same will happen when Farmar wrenches the position from Fisher.

    Fisher will not retire until the Lakers are secure at the point position, that’s one of the reasons he returned to the Lakers in the first place.

    Fisher wears the number 4; he hit a 3pt shot against the Spurs with .04 on the clock; he sends the game into OT with 4.6 seconds on the clock; does anyone else see a pattern of the ’4′?

  146. New post up, a bunch of links and thoughts.

  147. Mimsy, I do appreciate the effort. I am not yet sold though. I can see 17- 4 or something like that. I understand the reality of home court advantage, etc.

    But I see Howard with 1 foul at half. And then the 4th plus overtime. And then I ask if it is in the league’s best interest to keep Howard in the game and keep the series close…..

    Would they be so blatantly obvious about it? I doubt it. I suspect your charge of incompetence is the accurate one. I am wondering if maybe there is a ‘groupthink’ mentality that takes over and the refs start picking on a player or team or favoring a team and that leads to something like this.

    I say all of this knowing that the Lakers have often been the beneficiaries of suspect officiating. I hate complaining about refs. So I felt like it could be discussed now after a victory and not be sour grapes.

    Anyway, it was great win.

  148. On ref conspiracies. Sure, some refs probably use their position for personal profit. But I think it is not possible that the league is manipulating the outcomes of individual games. First, to conceal such a broad conspiracy is practically impossible. (The refs would have to be compensated or threatened and there would be some kind of trail… and some ref along the way would blow the whistle. Someone credible, not desperate like Donaghy.) Second, such a revelation would severely damage the league for not much gain. Third, the dominance of the small-market Spurs over this decade discredits any such theory.

  149. Pietrus was never known for dirty play because he’s never been on a good team until now. Now his true colors are exposed when the stakes are higher. If he did that on the playground he’d be more than fined that’s for sure. The NBA is soft and biased. But this just adds more pressure on the Magic to win game 5. They know they choked and lost their cool. They are ready to be stepped on for good. They’ll need to watch Leroy Smith over the summer since experience is not important according to SVG http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koGD6XnAsNs&feature=player_embedded

    I think Will just needs to live with the way the game was called and played and move on. If we got some calls against Boston last year we could have possibly won last year. But since this is the Lakers we are all of sudden put under the microscope for a dunk in a 5pt game or a 3ptr w/ time running out on the shot clock. Please, you obviously need to check yourself. The Lakers are a class organization. 30 NBA Finals appearances. We are not the Denver Thuggets.

  150. 147:

    nice theory, except Fish wears #2… :)

  151. @wilzuvsteel

    I wasn’t complaining about the Magic losing: I was just asking thoughts on that type of play and in general my mind has been changed on the plays by the thoughts of those here.

    I don’t need to ‘check myself’ because I haven’t said one thing disrespectful about your organization. I was curious about some single plays that were made. I will never question greatness and if we (Magic) lose this series its because the better team one: fair and square. I will never cry conspiracy.

    My concern was the state of ‘class’ in the NBA, I ‘thought’ the plays were a bit much BUT my opinion has changed. I’ve moved on. Whoever brought up Howard’s three in Game 6 of ECF: that was a great point. I suppose that’s where my bias comes in a bit. Didn’t even think to look at MY guys though I never defended Pietrus.

    Anyways, thanks for the positive responses.

    –Humbled Magic Fan

  152. better team ‘won’ I should say. . .haha

  153. Will, I’ll repeat what I said before. I don’t think you were out of line for asking a legitimate question. I’ll say this much, win or lose, the NBA season is going to be over in less than a week. I’m going to miss it.

  154. Actually, I’m not a Laker fan by default because I’m a Denver fan first but I appreciate Kobe’s game.
    My job makes it easy for me to go around places since that’s what I do.

    Anyways, I’ll stay here till Monday and Lakers will win in the road.

    If I have known I was a good luck charm of the Los Angeles Lakers I would have attended 82 games in the regular season. ;)

    My record is somewhere in the mid-40s and it’s still sad to see Gina’s unbeatable record go as well.

  155. I will too. . .as a Magic fan I’ve only had the chance to make it this far twice. The first time I was twelve going on thirteen. Now I’m a few weeks from 27 and I’m holding my little girl. Very odd.

    Pau Gasol made my little girl cry. Maybe that’s why I took umbrage with the dunk. Haha. Kidding

  156. Boy, I hope that was a joke, Will. I hate to think that Gasol made your girl cry. The fact is the Magic aren’t going away. They’ve had a great run, beating the Celtics and the Cavs, and should be applauded for it. I’m not the only one who thinks Dwight Howard needs to develop some posts moves, but I think we forget how young he still is. He looks like a man. He rebounds and plays defense like a man, but he’s really still just a kid. I don’t want to think about trying to stop him once he develops.

  157. All Kobe haters eat this:
    Jordan stats in NBA Finals:
    1995-96
    G:6 MIN: 42.0 FG% .415 3%.316 FT% .836 RB: 5.3 A: 4.2 ST: 1.7 BL: 0.17 TO: 3.0 PPG: 27.3
    1996-97
    G: 6 MIN:42.7 FG%.456 3%.320 FT%.764 RB:7.0 A:6.0 ST:1.2 BL. 0.83 ST 2.2 TO. 2.3 PPG 32.3
    1997-98
    G: 6 MIN 41.7 FG% .427 3%.308 FT%.814 RB 4.0 A: 2.3 ST 1.8 BL 0.67 TO 1.7 PPG 33.5
    Where’s love for Kobe?

  158. 159,
    ummmm…. Jordan was 34,35, and 36. Show MJ’s stats in the finals when he was 28,29, and 30. Thanks.

    Zephid,
    Your post was interesting because in it you proved yourself wrong. Fisher did kill us like you said throughout the entire playoffs and he did hit two gigantic clutch shots that most likely will clinch the Lakers 15th championship. But the smart question to ask is would the Lakers be down by 3 with 10 seconds left in the game if Fisher didn’t go 0-5 on open threes and let Alston destroy him in the 1st half and Nelson drive by him at will in the 4th setting up open shooters and Dwight Howard dunks? Its the classic baseball quote… “I never liked them guys who drive in 2 runs and let in 3.” Fisher let in 3 runs and drove in 2 at the end of the game. But I am very thankful for the 2.

  159. Aaron,
    I hear what you’re saying that Jordan was older than Kobe during those Finals – and although Jordan (born Feb 1963) was actually 33, 34, and 35 in those seasons, I still see your point. However you’re also forgetting that while Kobe is only 30 right now, he came into the league at a much younger age and probably has the same if not more games/minutes under his belt right now as MJ did during those series. So, to me, it’s not the big a jump to compare those stats at those ages (especially when you consider that MJ did take a full season and a half off to play baseball).

  160. I would never want to correct you… But in the finals (at the end of the season) he was 34,35, and 36. Kobe played at age 29 last year in the finals. I don’t think his wear and tare puts more than 4 years on him. But… he still is the 3rd best player in my estimation of all time. He is a hell of a ball player. But please don’t compare him to Jordan… its not fair to kobe. Cause your comparing him to the best player of all time. A freak of nature like Lebron. If I had to pick a players mind and soul to put in a basketball player it would be Kobe’s. He is the smartest player I have ever seen play (although his confidence does make him hold the ball and force up shots too often) and I feel he is the most competitive. He is my favorite player of all time. People talk about Jordan… and that makes me laugh. After all the stories about him partying in Vegas and late night before playoff games. That never helps your performance. Congrats on a great season… but I want more rings out of this group. At least 3 more or they have under achieved. Unless of course Lebron gets another all star to play with him. Then I would accept Lakers loss’ in the Finals to the Cavs. I only hope Bynum is 100% next year and because two huge clutch shots doesn’t make me forget he gave us very little this post season, I hope Fisher gets benched. And of course we need to resign both Ariza and Odom. See you next year. And thanks for all you do here on the forum.

  161. How old was michael jordan when he won his last ch…

    Michael Jordan won his last championship in 1999 at the age of 36. He retired for several years after that season.
    http://www.chacha.com/question/how-old-was-michael-jord

  162. Aaron,
    I only respond now, in the midst of me celebrating, to make sure that the facts on this are right. MJ was 35 when he won his last title. The Finals were played in June 1998 (he was born in Feb 1963). He retired for the second time, after his last championship, in Jan 1999 before the start of the lockout season. After being drafted in 1984 and through the 1998 season, he played 12 and a half seasons and not the full 14 seasons (due to his retirement after the Bulls’ first three peat and flirtation with baseball). This past season was Kobe’s 13th full season. So, as I was saying earlier, it’s not that big a jump to compare the effectiveness of these two great players at those stages of their careers as they had essentially played the same number of seasons and had just as many NBA miles on their legs.

  163. fair enough… my mistake