Still Buzzing

Kurt —  June 12, 2009

Finals
It’s a good day to be a Lakers fan.

A few things have piled up in my brain and in my inbox that I just wanted to get out there, so here come the bullet points (as I’m to lazy to weave a narrative today).

• I loved the way the Lakers defended Rashard Lewis in this game. They swarmed him. You can pretty much always take one guy from the other team out of the equation (you could even do it with MJ and you can with Kobe, it’s just that the price is very high because it opens up other players when you have to triple team). The Lakers took out Lewis and did what they could on Hedo. The mobile Lakers bigs continue to slow Howard. The Lakers bet that Alston and Lee could not beat them — but Lewis was not going to. And he didn’t. Credit Gasol and Odom for a great job on him as the primary guys.

• Derek Fisher after the game:

Not of us can continue at times to just expect that Kobe is going to save us. We have to be willing to take blame, responsibility, accountability, and when things go well as well as bad. I felt bad because Pau was kicking it out to me for some wide open threes that I was missing, and I promised him that I was not going to miss those shots anymore, even though Kobe was the guy to pass it to me, the last one I hit, I thanked Pau for warming up my elbow because the ones I was missing early, I wasn’t supposed to miss.

• Phil Jackson on Trevor Ariza:

Trevor is a player that we thought was a developing player as we got him. I mean, this is a young guy that obviously we felt came out of college early in hopes of getting drafted and ended up in New York and never got fully developed as a player in college or in the pros because he didn’t stay in one organization long enough to do that. We thought that his ability to develop as a player was going to be key. This is the year that he’s really shown that development as a player.

• Eric Neel is my favorite sports feature writer walking the planet, a guy who crafts words but more importantly gets the details and their relationship to the big picture. Then can relate it. That is no easy task.

All of that is a long-winded way of saying if you read one thing today make it his feature on Phil Jackson today.

I’m thinking this cat has stayed true to his school on this stuff, talking about energy, connectedness, intuition and not being a stranger to the moment as you’ve imagined it, from the jump, for two decades now.

At what point do we stop thinking of him as the eccentric? Will 10 rings do the trick? At what point do we consider the possibility, in earnest, with nary a wink or a nod, that the guy might be on to something? That over and above the X’s and O’s (which pretty much everyone knows cold anyway), in this era, in conjunction with truly elite talents such as Michael, Scottie, Shaq, Kobe and Gasol, at this level of competition, Jackson might be practicing just the sort of alchemy and philosophical framing that makes the difference between a team’s being good and being great, between simply making the playoffs and making the playoffs your plaything.

• The volume of great writing on the Lakers has been impressive. All season long I love reading the LA Times Lakers Blog, Mike Trudell over at Lakers.com, Silver Screen and Roll, Eric Pincus and more than I can list. Check them out.

• Normally at this point in a playoff series, I have worked up a good hatred for the other team. Easy to do with the Celtics. It was easy to do with Denver. Houston got there. But I really just can’t do it for Orlando. They have these great community stories about the guy helping in the locker room, the girl signing the national anthem. I just like Dwight and Hedo. Van Gundy is fun to watch as a coach and smart. They play hard. Their bloggers are good reads. I just can’t hate them like I should. If they can keep this squad together, they may well get a title in the next three years. And I would be fine with that (as long as it’s not at our expense).

• Re: The officiating. The next game Bennett Salvatore refs well will be the first. But it’s not a conspiracy for one team and against the other bad, it’s an equal-opportunity bad. It’s inconsistent. But if you’re a champion you play through it and make your plays. Simply put, you don’t let them decide it, you decide it. The Lakers did that.

Kurt

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51 responses to Still Buzzing

  1. PeanutButterSpread June 12, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    I can’t stand Hedo. Couldn’t stand him from the Sacramento days, can’t stand him now.

    But the other players, I actually like. Dwight, Lee, Lewis, etc.

    Not to start thinking about next year already, but:

    I think Orlando will have a slightly difficult time getting back to the finals next year only because I’m thinking they’ll still have to contend with Boston and Cleveland … not saying they’re better or worse, just that, those three are the top in the East. It’ll be a dog fight for either of those three to get back to the Finals.

    In the West, I’d say there are the Nuggets and the Rockets (possibly the Blazers) who can come close to challenging the Lakers like Boston-Cleveland-Orlando will challenge each other in the East.

  2. Love what Fisher said about accountability and not just hoping Kobe saves the day. Hopefully that is the mindset that he instills in the rest of the players, and that would be the greatest…errr second greatest gift he would give the Lakers.

    Kobe was giving me a heart attack the whole game. I know we’ve accepted the whole “Catch-22″ with Kobe. He takes ridiculously difficult shots and he makes some and is able to get you that close to a team at the end. With the nature of those difficult shots is that they are low percentage shots and more likely than not they miss. It really shows that Kobe wants to brand his game onto the game’s cow side. Part of that is just wanting to win so badly to taste victory after starting at the bottom of the mountain as he likes to say. Part of it is his teammates’ inability to create. Instead they rely on looks based upon the double, triple, and kitchen sink defense that other teams instill. The final part is the deep down desire that I know Kobe has to develop his legacy. He’s always been intrigued with being the alpha dog, and winning. That is what separates the pantheon from the mortals. Kobe is going to do it this year but it will be a result of his team coming together. Kobe has done so much to bring us to this place and enable this team to win it all. The team played excellent defense on Howard and Rashard Lewis. Everyone got on Kobe’s army and went all out last night. It wasn’t our best game potential wise, but it was the one with a whole lot of effort. As a fan, that is all you can ask for win or lose. Thank you Lakers

  3. Amen on that last point, Kurt. I was screaming “How can you call that?!?!” at my TV about calls that went AGAINST the Magic. That’s when you know the officiating is terrible.

  4. Actually, I think the story about the guy with the spinal disorder helping in the locker room was for the Nuggets. There was a nice feature thought about the autistic kid who spoke his first words after watching the Magic play, so I can’t really hate the Magic either – good organization. We still gotta beat ‘em, but I can’t loathe them like I do the Celtics and the Kings.

  5. Travis (3:23 p.m.): I don’t think it’s him wanting to be the alpha dog for the ego thing as much as it’s a control thing. Understand that Kobe does things one-on-N so well, and he *knows* that he does them so well, that he feels comfortable doing them. He feels in control when he does them. In the early post-Shaq years, the moment he passed the ball out, I suspect he felt he lost that control. And so he couldn’t wait to get it back or, just as often, he decided not to pass it out after all.

    I think one main way that he’s matured is that he’s learned not only that he’s got to pass it out, but that his teammates have to know what to do with it once they get the ball, and he has to know that they know it. And what better way than for him to say it out loud. In other words, I think he’s learned that he can’t just ask for hustle. They want to hustle. But they need direction, too, and it has to come from him. Because otherwise I don’t think he’ll trust it enough when the time comes–not even if it comes from Phil, at least not only from Phil.

  6. PBS, you forgot to mention Chicago :)

    They had a run with Boston that required composure, execution and maturity, and for a team as young as they are, they did very well. When they get a bit older and have learned a bit more, and have come together fully as a team, they’re going to be dangerous.

  7. Shivers and near tears is best way that I can describe last night. To know that we were on the other side of a Game 4 collapse last year, only to prevail in similar fashion this year is beyond magical. Speaks to the benefit of experience and readiness to answer the call when the moment comes. So happy for Fish, Pau and Ariza (not to mention, Phil/Kobe, whose trust in their teammates was vindicated last night).

    Also, a mea culpa from Bill Simmons/ESPN on Game 4: So what’s the final verdict? I’m going with a 55/45 split: 55 percent “gutty/gritty comeback” by the Lakers, and 45 percent “monumental, colossal choke job that was almost bigger than all of us” by the Magic. Just remember to credit the Lakers, a slightly flawed team that showed a lot more toughness than many of us (including me) thought they had. They are going to win the 2009 NBA title. And that’s that.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/090612&sportCat=nba

  8. Kehn, I think you may be right. I’ll change the post.

  9. Coffee is For Closers June 12, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    I too got a little exasperated with Kobe the last 5 minutes of regulation (until that unbelievably sweet feed to pau inside of a minute). He was in full one on everyone mode prior to that.

    I think its sort of a byproduct of kobe’s supreme self confidence. Its part of what makes him the best, but at times, keeps the team from operating at prime efficiency. Its hard to pass the ball off to a teammate at a crucial juncture of the game if you’re certain (in your mind) you’re going to make the next shot.

    On another note, I’ve heard a lot of whinning today about the non-call on kobe’s elbow to nelson that led to fisher’s crucial 3 pointer in OT, but i’m wondering how that really should have been called. To me, Nelson has didn’t have position established, so its not a charge, and the elbow wasn’t intentional. I actually think nelson could have been called a foul for not having established position.

  10. On the topic of Orlando’s contender chances next year that PBS mentioned (#1), the direction Boston is rumored to be taking is interesting:

    http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/draft2009/insider/columns/story?columnist=ford_chad&page=DraftBuzz-090612

    Ford asserts that Ainge is really high on Tyreke Evans and may be willing to trade Ray Allen to get a top five pick. Of these teams, Washington seems to be the best fit for Allen, as Washington fills up a huge hole at the two, gets the veteran player they need to push them forward, and are able to dump a load of bad contracts (Etan Thomas and Mike James chief among them) on Boston. Memphis and OKC don’t have salary cap issues and Allen is going to monumentally unhappy in both cities.

    It’s an interesting move, but it strikes one as preparing for the future rather than trying to win now. As much as Allen disappeared for stretches in the playoffs, he’s still a cold-blooded shooter, and Evans may or not pan out this year as well as Boston needs to get them over the hump. He definitely is a good player with an NBA body (and a huge 6’11” wingspan), great scoring instincts, and good ball-handling skills, but it remains to be seen whether he can temper his tendency to overdribble, dominate the ball, and take bad shots in the NBA.

    That said, Orlando will almost certainly lose Turkoglu due to tax concerns (unless Detroit passes on him, which is unlikely) and Cleveland is liable to have a spotty frontcourt with Varajeo opting out and Wallace thinking about retiring.

  11. Upon reflection, it felt like a game the Lakers let slip out of their hands, then somehow slipped back into them.

  12. “Re: The officiating. The next game Bennett Salvatore refs well will be the first.”-Kurt

    Made my day.

    : )

    Awesome shot.

  13. Coffee is For Closers June 12, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    The only saving grace for the NBA and their choice of Finals officials is that they finally left Dick “hey, 70 is the new 60″ Bavetta out of the Finals rotation.

    Its funny, I think Stern has so stubbornly defended his refs that he ignores the obvious – that he’s got a problem that needs correcting.

  14. The Dude Abides June 12, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    Sigh…I now read tweets from Shaq and Simmons.
    http://twitter.com/the_real_shaq
    twitter.com/sportsguy33

    Guess who wrote this one:
    “If others can smell you, u gotta be able to smell yourself Pfffffffffffff I farted Aggggh Can u smell dat Lol”

    The guy will never change.

  15. Yeah, I can’t hate the Magic yet either. Except Hedo. That guy will always be a Sac King to me, which taints him for life. (Of course, he would be fantastic in the tri, but that’s another story).

    My legs are still shaky from last night. A little background: I’m a little too emotionally involved with this team. I have been since I was 8. I’m now 36. Over the years I have lost remote controls and TVs (from launching the former into the latter), pieces of furniture, and even girlfriends to the Purple (well, Forum Blue) and Gold.

    So about 6 years ago, after my first kid was born, my wife sat me down and had a talk with me about not scaring the children when I was watching a game. Since then, I’ve gotten somewhat better at controlling my frustrations, but the main thing I did was start watching the games on my Tivo after everyone else in the house was asleep. Now I can still rant and rave, I just do so quietly. Plus, I can watch a game in about an hour fifteen/an hour and a half since I skip through commercials, half-time, etc.

    But while that adjustment made life easier on those around me, it didn’t do much for the knots in my stomach that would form during a close game – especially a playoff game. So over Christmas we got a recumbent bike, and I started riding it during games as a way to a) get some exercise, and b) channel some of that nervous energy that seems to consume me when I watch the team.

    And it worked. Very well. Pedaling through my frustrations was far better for me than clenching my remote or launching a pillow. As would make sense, I have noted that I unconsciously pedal harder when I’m more nervous/irritated. I can usually tell in looking at the odometer afterward how close the game was and how into it I was. In a normal game, I’ll hit around 20-22 miles. Last night, I almost fell over when I got up after the game, and I wasn’t sure why. Then I looked down at the odometer and saw that I had pedaled 30.2 miles. ;)

  16. Yeah… following Shaq’s twitter probably means you have too much free time. Scroll down more, I can’t make heads or tails out of about 90% of the stuff he says. To be fair though, a lot of that is the twitter format, which is geared towards horrendous/illegible shorthand spelling and meaningless observations.

    I think you should read this:

    http://www.theonion.com/content/news/nation_desperately_seeks?utm_source=a-section

  17. j.d. Hastings June 12, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    From an insider post by Chad Ford
    http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/draft2009/insider/columns/story?columnist=ford_chad&page=DraftBuzz-090612

    The Celtics are supposedly shopping Rondo and/or Ray Allen for a top 5 pick to take Tyreke Evans.

    There is an absolutely hilarious paragraph in the discussion about this:

    “The Celtics could trade Allen to Memphis for a combination of Darko Milicic, Greg Buckner and Marko Jaric. That could save the Grizzlies a little money now and a lot of money next year … but that seems like a stretch. The Grizzlies don’t need Allen and I’m sure he wouldn’t be thrilled to play there.”

    Yeah. The GRIZZLIES would buck at that trade (even with the draft pick).

    IF the Celts know that KG will never be the same, I can understand moving Allen and maybe Pierce to clear space and start rebuilding. But no way in hell do they give up Rondo. He is the backbone they rebuild around. What’s the point of trading him to rebuild around Allen and Pierce?

    I’m just going to use this article to torment my Boston friends and otherwise disregard it.

  18. The Dude Abides June 12, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    The Onion is great. Their book “Our Dumb World” (or something similar) is the funniest book I’ve read in the past ten years.

  19. Kurt. What happened to my earlier comment. #13

  20. Everything is good here in Orlando!
    My family went to Disneyland and I think I just saw a couple of familiar faces here.
    I’ll be staying here till Monday and I would just like to thank you guys for having me here.
    I would like to be an official “Lakers fan”, but I guess the bad blood still flows through my veins, how could I forget that you beat my Nuggets twice in a row? :)

  21. Travis Y. Well said. If you only looked at the first half of each game in the this NBA finals you would think that Kobe is having historic success on the way to his first MVP. However, if you just look at the second halves of these games it is clearly a different story. His shooting is off, his defensive rotations are slower and his decision making in the clutch has been suspect. So why is there such an uncharacteristic difference in Kobe’s game early vs late in these finals?

    The answer is clearly fatigue. Regardless of what Kobe says verbally his body and his game are revealing the truth. He needs more rest. Especially in the second half of championship games. We should stop expecting Kobe to carry our team in the fourth quarter if he doesn’t get rest in the third quarter.

    All year long we have been touted as having the deepest and most talented team in the league (I still think this is true). On Sunday Phil should use this depth of talent to give Kobe a rest at the end of the third quarter and including 2 minutes into the fourth.

    If Phil gets Kobe some rest in the second half of these games (even if he doesn’t want to come out) we will see the return of the closer.

    In addition, we should not make the mistake of waiting until the fourth quarter to rest Kobe. This will not allow Kobe enough time to rest or to work himself into the flow of the game before he is needed to make critical plays. Pat Riley always rested Magic with 2 or three minutes left in the third quarter and returned him with plenty of time to impact the game.

  22. Win or lose, one thing the Lakers must address before the fall is their outside shooting – or lack thereof.

    There’s been so much talk about abandoning the triangle, seeing so much of the high screen and roll with Pau and Kobe, and so on.

    Well a key component of the triangle is spacing, and what good does it do the offense if there’s an open guy on the wing or corner whom the defense knows won’t make many shots? He’s not a threat, so they pack the inside and so much for the edge the triangle is supposed to bring.

    Fish isn’t consistent anymore, Radmanovich is gone, and that leaves… who?

    I’m wondering if anyone close to practices can get insight on Sasha: in his first few years he was a deadeye in practice, but missed in the games. Last year he was clutch in games too, but this year not so much. Makes me wonder if he’s lost his touch altogether this year (in practice and in the games), or if he’s just reverted to in-game nerves?

    If he’s still shooting well at 11 a.m., there’s hope he can regain his form once he overcomes whatever mental block he’s developed. If he’s not shooting well in practice or games, there’s another issue altogether.

    Whether it’s Sasha, Brown or someone else, let’s hope Mitch can find someone to extend the D next season.

    But before that, let’s see L.A. get one more win.

  23. 16 yeah I can’t understand that, but I’m all for the C’s screwing themselves……anyways enough of those guys. 1 more baby 1 more

  24. Kurt. was there a problem with my previous comment. Was it out of line? Please give me some feedback so I will know in the future.

  25. Gratz on the win. After, last night’s heart breaking loss, its hard to see Orlando coming back and winning three in a row.

    I wonder who the MVP will be. It will probably be Kobe even though he probably doesn’t deserve it based upon his performance thus far. I would probably go with Pau as the MVP. He has played excellent defense on Howard and he averages of 19.9 and 7.8 while shooting 59%. Kobe’s line: 33 ppg on 42.5% shooting, 8 assists/game 3.5 TO’s/game.

  26. @Birdman,

    Think of it this way: Wouldn’t you rather your Nuggets lost to the Champions, the best team in the league, than to anyone else?

  27. @Birdman–

    moreover, with a Lakers victory, you can make a case that Den would have beaten the Magic as well…

    you’ve been a great contributor to this site and my experience through the last 2 rounds.

  28. birdman, DisneyLAND is in LA/Anehiem…I think you mean your family went to disneyWORLD. (which is actually awesomer)
    but ours is pretty cool too, especially if you’re a Los Angeles Angles of Anehiem fan, (seriously, I think that’s what they’re called).
    speaking of baseball, usually after the NBA finals, I go into a sports funk, all we have is baseball. but this year…??? aren’t the Dodgers making a pretty serious run? and without Manny?
    might be a good year for LA Sports.
    and Birdman, always welcome!

  29. Ainge hasn’t made a good personnel decision since they won the ring. That Grizzly trade wouldn’t surprise me a bit.

  30. Mimsy,

    My ears heard, but chose not to listen ;p
    But I guess you’re right.

    lil’ pau,
    I don’t think Denver would have beaten Orlando, they have pretty much the same style, but the matchup problems the Magic present are just so heavy and loaded.
    But considering I’m a Rockies fan, I’ll take it in 7 had they been the WCF Champions.

  31. Birdman, it’s been good having you here, and I hope to see you here next season as well. Nothing wrong with liking another team as long as they’re not playing yours; I personally normally root for the Magic. I feel the exact same way Kurt does, I just can’t hate or dislike this team at all. Hedo’s one of my favorite non-Laker players, Dwight is Dwight, Shard’s a soft-spoken guy, SVG is a great coach (if annoying) – just a good overall team.

    BCR – Thanks for sharing that, I don’t have Insider. That’s a really, really interesting topic, I’d say more but I think it’d get too much into trade speculation. Looks like Ainge may not believe in the current group enough; I personally think they’re 1 solid role player away from another great title run. Especially if Cleveland changes their lineup, because the Cavs are the team that matches up best with them.

    It does look like the Magic value Turk over the luxury tax, though:


    Magic President and chief executive officer Bob Vander Weide told FanHouse that ownership likely would approve paying the luxury tax for the first time if it means keeping the nucleus of this team together.

    “We’ve always avoided the tax, but winning has a crazy effect on people,” Vander Weide said. “The [DeVos] family (which owns the team) is having fun right now. I don’t think anyone has a willingness to stay in tax for 10 years, but to go in for a few years to ride this out, I don’t think that’s threatening to our family short term.”

    Shard’s done so much for them, but even a few million less on that contract would have been well-spent elsewhere. They’re basically locked into the team they have, unless Otis gets the better of someone in a trade.

  32. @birdman: WE are your family. Search your feelings, you know it is true. Come join us on the Dark Side. Together, we will rule the NBA fandom.

    @khjohn: yeah I also think Kobe is breaking down. He can still get into his incredible zones but he just can’t sustain them like he used to be able to do. And he’s just too proud and stubborn to admit the fatigue is getting to him so he continues to push more than his body can deliver. I think one goal for the coaching staff next season must be to reduce his minutes. (And Pau’s too. It’s pretty incredible that a big man like Pau can lead the team in minutes. Yet Pau seems to be holding up okay. That is one fit dude!)

  33. Though I hate to admit it, Evans going to Boston would be great for his development as a defensive player. He has the physical tools, but if he gets stuck in a 07 Durant-like situation, he’ll be overwhelmed and wont’ be able to work on the defensive end. But on the Celts he’ll have less of an offensive burden, KG and Pierce will force him to put in the effort defensively, and he’ll be well coached under Thibodeau. Developmentally, it could be great for him as a player.

  34. 22 Chris, did you forget Ariza?

    And Fish isn’t that consistent, but he has been shooting well this series. Plus, to pick on his lack of shooting after last night is just bad timing.

  35. Regarding Kobe’s fatigue, I’d like to see two things. One, more of a facilitator role in the first half. These past two games, he’s needed to be aggressive in the first quarter to make up for the rest of the team’s performance (or lack thereof). If we can do a better job of getting Pau established early, along with more shots for Trevor and Derek, Kobe will be able to preserve his energy.

    Secondly, I wonder if Kobe is making in-game adjustments as well as he did earlier in the year. Maybe he is and the fatigue is still getting him. From my perspective, he’s not make the right adjustments in the 4th quarter, such as getting to better positions on the floor, relying more on his bread-and-butter moves, and even adjusting the mechanics of his shot. When he has to work the entire half court through a series of double-teams and pick & rolls, he’s going to be exhausted. Someone get that man in the post or on the elbow.

  36. -Brian Tung

    I do agree with your point about Kobe desiring to be in control. He is one of those guys that you know that is good at his job and has excelled for a long period of time. The only thing is, he’s just entering the downward spiral of his optimal efficiency. The new “effectiveness” that he experiences is new to him, and he won’t back down his way, until someone seizes the reins and earns Kobe’s respect.

    -Thanks for the props khjohn.

    I agree Kobe has done a great job at times, but often is doing too much and becomes a detriment to the Lakers towards part of the end of games. Whether that is bad shot selection, lack of passing, or slow defensive rotations. I’m glad the rest of the team has been stepping up to help out instead of just putting their head between their legs. It appears that everyone is just contributing as much as possible and like Coach Jackson’s Knicks all 10 players are making a contribution.

  37. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQA4w1qwfFc

    It almost hurts to watch that. I guess this is the reason they stopped calling back NBA legends to play in the All-Star game.

  38. Yes, Kobe seems clearly fatigued and he is hogging the ball, but let’s not go crazy. The man is clearly, to this point, the Finals MVP.

    He is the engine that makes the team go. Most of the Laker offense came from the Magic D collapsing on Kobe. (I sigh in relief every time they double team Kobe.) Indeed, the team could definitely stand to have less of the Rectangle Offense as Sports Guy calls it (four guys in a rectangle watch Kobe work).

    I think there is a good chance Game 5 we’ll see the full team offense. It’s a kind of bonus game that we don’t absolutely need and I think Kobe can let go enough to try to play the game to go away from defensive pressure, at least for a half.

    ps. What a great idea to exercise during the games. But do you just get fat again during the offseason?

  39. It truly is a fabulous day to be a Laker fan, though I can not help but feel for this Orlando team that could, by rights, be up 3-1… for all our grit, poise, determination (and a little luck), there were moments during this game when I thought…

    “Man, I would hate to be a Magic fan watching this game…”

    Seriously, a penny for Stan’s thoughts during the course of that game… Jameer Nelson had no place being on the floor for that game, let alone the last 15 or so minutes… I didn’t think Rafer was doing such a bad job? Nelson makes two or three entry passes, a drive and dish to Howard, and spends the rest of the time handing the ball off to Turkoglu at the top of the arc, rotating to a wing position and …. waits…. waits some more… with his hands by his sides, taking up court space… if I were a paying magic fan i would sit with my Tivo and a stop watch to time just how long Nelson stands around like this… it had to be a good chunk of time… hands down, a magic offense that was lauded for its precision and movement forgot how to move and make precise decisions, with Jameer being a primary culprit..

    … “Orlando players come out wearing black patches to honor the memory of the recently deceased, Rashard Lewis… wait, there he is! Im confused…” not only the funniest comment i have seen on a blog all series, but also an indictment on not only the magically disappearing man, but also on how over paid this supposed ‘superstar’ really is… good luck re-signing Turkoglu and Gortat, that decision to spend 100+ million on Lewis will haunt this franchise more than Howards free throws…

    ahhh…. its great to be a Laker fan… peace

    It was said in a Magic blog that SVG looks like he is coaching on hunches and feelings… its times like these that I admire Phil’s ability to read the game and make adjustments from there

  40. I saw the ‘jeanie vision’ from 6-7 and she says to PJ something about next year doing something, hmmm, the look he had after she said that was very interesting to me. I am and will keep enjoying this championship run this year, because we just do not know what the future has for us.

  41. PeanutButterSpread June 13, 2009 at 12:03 am

    Kenny Smith has some nice recollections about LO, Ron Artest, and Rafer Alston, back when they were still youngsters (btw, all four are from NY):

    “The funny thing is both Rafer and Lamar used to play on the same AAU basketball team that I sponsored when they were 11 years old. I’ll tell you the other two: Speedy Claxton and Ron Artest. These were 11-year-old kids.

    That kind of talent pool just doesn’t happen with that many kids that young, that good.

    Ron? Ron was very consistent. His behavior is very consistent. I used to say that some of the things he got praised for were going to be detrimental down the road. And the coaches back then didn’t understand what I meant. At the time, I was a young NBA player and on my sponsored team, my older brother Vincent coached.

    You could praise Ron’s intensity to a point. The coaches would say, “Ron’s the only one who cares if we lose or win.” The guys should care. There’s a fine line.

    They all used to see me and Kenny Anderson, the former New Jersey Nets point guard, working out in the gym and I knew what they were thinking: “We’re next.”

    But Lamar grew so quickly. In one year, he grew six, seven inches. He went from being a point guard to being a big guy.

    That’s why he has all those ball-handling skills. He did the same drills Kenny Anderson did. He plays like a 6-10 Kenny Anderson. They get to the rim the same way.

    I don’t think Lamar back then ate as much candy as he does now.

    I remember seeing Lamar coming back the next summer and I didn’t know it was the same guy because he had grown so much. I was sitting there watching the first quarter of the game and my brother was like, “That’s Lamar.” He had grown so quickly that I didn’t recognize him.

    We called Rafer “Penny Loafers.” He wasn’t yet “Skip to My Lou.”

    He got that nickname when I brought the team to Houston and my brother was coaching them. I said, “All right, you have to wear shoes to dinner.” And Rafer didn’t bring any shoes, he only brought sneakers. I sent him to the store because we were going to a nice restaurant. “You’ve gotta wear shoes.” He got penny loafers and he put the penny in there. It was pretty funny.”

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-kenny-smith-nba-finals13-2009jun13,0,7282656.story

    I love stories like this about a player’s childhood.

  42. Wow, as always it’s a real pleasure reading this blog.

    This is for Lala, at the end of the game, Kobe was talking to Boozer not Wade.

    I concur with Kurt, and think that Mimsy made a great point in the previous thread, the ref. is awful because they are awful not because any conspiracy. But it amazes me that they’re the best thing around in the best league in the world…

  43. Mimsy’s comment at #131 of the last thread should:
    1) Be read by all bloggers here
    2) Be sent to David Stern’s office – as homage to the general perception of his greatest problem with this game.

    Also, Kurt’s comment about Bennett S. is another gem.

  44. I know this is a old and tired subject, but as a basketball fan in general

    “So basically, I don’t know what to make of the 2009 Finals. It has nothing in common with anything that has ever happened before. My theory: because of the economy, nobody improved their team at the trading deadline and strengthened whatever holes they had, so we just ended up with a bunch of flawed contenders. Just one of those years.”

    from Simmons’ article makes me extremely angry. It’s one thing to put down one particular player that you clearly hate. But to build in some kind of insurance/excuse so that even if team LA wins they are automatically lesser champions? That’s a new low.

    I’m not someone who glorifies the past at the expense of not appreciating the work of modern players nor am I someone who detracts from the past while marveling at modern athleticism. The game continues to change but at the end of the day it’s the same story – the best players in basketball come together and compete. Any team that makes it through the grueling battles and prevails in the end as champions are deserving champions. To say anything less would be belittling all the other teams that they have competed against.

    Were last year champs deserving champions? Yes!!! Even if it came at the expense of one of my favorite teams I can admit that last year’s Boston was an excellent team of hungry vets. Surely deserving champs.

    But according to his logic, they were dogged down in two early round battles
    and then didn’t go 4-0 on a “weak” LA squad so I guess they’re lesser champions too?

    Also how can a league go from an awesome, competitive league that played the background role to making Boston an awe-inspiring champion to a watered down flawed lesser league in the course of a single year? Because of the economy? Give me a break. Because of the economy did 50 of the NBA’s best players go to play for the Chinese league? Did North Korea attack the US and wipe out half of the NBA?? It’s the same league with some solid rookie
    additions. Simmons is just reaching for a last straw

  45. Put up a new post on Legler’s comment (I think it was Legler) that Phil’s decision to bring the ball up the length of the court with 11 seconds left did the Magic a favor:

    http://thenullhypodermic.blogspot.com/2009/06/power-of-flexibility.html

    Not trying to poach readers (not that I could, anyway), but thought some of you might be interested.

  46. I’m suggesting to State Farm that they can the LeBron Kid n Play commercial (“I’m There” theme), and replace him with Fish.

    2001 regular season, 12 games to go, Lakers struggling and bickering. Fish returns from stress fracture and Lakers win last 12, sweep WC playoffs, and beat Sixers in 5. And I think he shoots something like 50% from 3 land in the playoffs. Fish, “I’m there”.

    2004 WC Finals, .04, “I’m there.”

    2009 Finals, 4 seconds, “I’m there.” O.T., “I’m there.”

    Celtics: I think Danny Ainge is acutely aware of the precipitious decline the Celtics endured in the 90s after holding on to an aging lineup too long. (Compounded by tragic deaths of Len Bias and Reggie Lewis).
    It’s better to pull that trigger a season or two too early, rather than a season too late.

  47. It’s interesting that Fisher’s fingerprints are all over our playoff run. We’ll come back to his two clutch baskets for years to come, but we’re less likely to remember his tenacious D on Deron Williams, his series changing flagrant on Scola, or his integral speech about embracing destiny. When Fisher slumps, it’s hard for fans to understand that his presence accounts for more than just scoring. Unfortunately no statistic exists for heart.

  48. People who only quote statistics – often John Hollinger – and say they don’t have to see the games to understand players strengths and weaknesses really don’t have a basic understanding of sports.

    It’s not only what people do, but when they do them.

    Fish: doesn’t need any explaination (2 for 7)

    Kobe: “shoots too much” doesn’t take into account when he shoots – when teammates are not hitting the broad side of the barn from the inside.

  49. New Post Up — Mark Jackson Bingo!

  50. Okay so it wasnt jus tme calling out a conspiracy Charley Rosen wrote this of the officiating, its nice to win a fixed game though…

    Referees
    Bennett Salvatore, Mike Callahan and Scott Foster — Collectively, these guys destroyed the possibility of either team’s establishing any kind of offensive rhythm with too many absurd calls and non-calls. If Howard could blatantly shove Gasol to the floor with impunity, and if Kobe could elbow Nelson in the face without a whistle, why were so many tickle fouls called?

    Blame the alarming lack of consistency on the fact that Callahan was the only exceptional ref on the floor.

    It also seemed that the refs’ incompetence drastically favored the home team. How else to explain the fact that during the last 17 minutes of the game, the Magic shot 19 free throws while the Lakers’ only two shots from the stripe resulted from Pietrus’ flagrant foul on Gasol?

  51. some of you may find this a good reason to hate on the Magic:

    http://www.edgeofsports.com/2009-06-08-429/index.html