It’s been a week since the Lakers beat the Celtics in an epic game 7 to capture franchise title number 16, just one behind Boston’s all-time 17 NBA championships. Back to that in a few paragraphs.
And with Lakers head coach Phil Jackson leaning towards retirement because of health issues, the rest of the league is getting ready for next season with today’s draft that’ll, most likely, see Kentucky point guard John Wall chosen first with the top overall pick by the Washington Wizards.
Funny how the Zen Master is THE DOMINO. When he falls, so will free agents, including LeBron James.
Here’s why. Jackson’s health could prevent him from returning to the Lakers Bench next season and end any talks of a fourth, three-peat. Waiting in the wings is former Lakers guard Byron Scott.
Scott won three championships with the “Showtime Lakers” in the 1980s and covets the Lakers coaching job. He’ll always be “family” when it comes to the Lakers and his good friends Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Dr. Jerry Buss. Scott guided the New Jersey Nets to two straight NBA finals. He’s won Coach of the Year honors with the Nets and New Orleans Hornets.
Scott’s one of the hottest coaching commodities with prime jobs like the Cleveland Cavaliers bench spot open. With Michigan St. coach Tom Izzo deciding to decline the Cavs offer, Scott’s the prime target in Cleveland. The job’s his if he wants it. He’s decided to wait to see what Jackson decides next week. If the Lakers job is available, Scott will want it. That’s assuming one of Jackson’s current assistants, namely former Lakers guard Brian Shaw, isn’t promoted to the top spot.
Mega-free agent LeBron James could be persuaded to remain with the Cavaliers if they hire Byron Scott. LeBron likes the fact Scott’s been a part of seven NBA finals either as a player or coach. Scott commands respect among players for the simple fact he IS one.
So, it’s up to Jackson. If he comes back for the fourth, three-peat, Scott’s headed to Cleveland with the good possibility LeBron stays. Jackson retires, Scott’s on the Lakers bench with Cleveland back at square one and LeBron entertaining offers from the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, New Jersey and the L.A. Clippers.
…………and there go those dominoes……………
So, with all this on the NBA horizon, gives me a good moment to reflect on last week’s championship game between the NBA’s two most storied franchises.
That was, truly, the best pro basketball game I’ve seen in some time. If nothing else but for the simple fact that it was a game 7 showdown between the Boston Celtics and the, now, two-time defending World Champion Los Angeles Lakers.
It helped they have that finals history going against each other for all the marbles for the 12th time and extending to a game 7 in five of those with the Celtics taking the first four prior to last Thursday’s break-through for the repeat championship by the Lakers at Staples Center, 83-79.
As good as the game was between the two Finals rivals, there’s still no way the series should’ve gone the distance. The Lakers, clearly, were the better team even without 7-foot center Andrew Bynum at full strength. Should’ve been done in five.
Speaking of game five, and backing up my point, the Celtics held the Lakers to 39% shooting for the game while themselves filling it up at a 56% clip, yet were fortunate to come away with a 92-86 win. Same deal in game four.
Down 3-2 and facing elimination, the Lakers just smeared the Celtics in game six at Staples, 89-67. Huge turning point. Celtics lost center Kendrick Perkins to torn knee ligaments early in the first quarter with game 7 looming.
So, that set up the deciding game with Perkins missing from the Celtics line-up and Bynum really ineffective at this point although he did average nine points and seven boards in the series. Pretty good for a guy playing with a knee tear. By the way, for all you Celtic fans who claim an 18th title didn’t happen because Perkins went down, it can be argued had Bynum been 100%, the Lakers might’ve swept the Celtics.
This series was all about the defense and you’ve got to give it up to both Celtics coach Doc Rivers and Jackson for making the proper adjustments to go for the championship. Game 7 looked more like an NCAA elite eight battle with both teams playing text-book defense. Couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
For three quarters, the Celtics, with that “nothing to lose so let’s go for it” attitude, looked as if they were going to script another disastrous game 7 ending for the Lakers at home against Boston.
The Big 4 of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen , Rajon Rondo and company, were playing championship defense triple-teaming Kobe Bryant and holding the Lakers to 29% shooting from the field in the first half alone.
Problem for the Celtics, the Lakers dominated the boards. Bryant himself had 15. So, although they couldn’t score, the Lakers got plenty of second-chance opportunities they converted keeping them in the game.
After opening a 13-point third quarter lead, the Celtics looked golden. But the old guys ran out of gas and the Lakers took over. While they made their run to take the lead spear-headed by Pau Gasol, the “help, or weak side defense” looked like Duke’s trying to stave off Butler for the championship.
If you’re a Boston fan, you hated it, which is understandable. If you’re Lakers fan you, obviously, loved it. If you’re a basketball junkie, you had to have been impressed by it for the simple fact they usually don’t play like that in an NBA game.
Plenty were complaining because of the lack of offense in the game. That’s what happens when both teams play good defense adjusting on the fly and one team dominates the glass. Remember what coaching icon Pat Riley likes to say.
Either way, it was like watching a nail-biter of a Super Bowl. Congratulations to both the Lakers and Celtics for playing a game 7 for the ages.
Along with NFL Training Camp hold-outs, here’s another rite of Summer, the Clippers are on the clock!
Who is Al-Farouq Aminu? Well, “The Chief Has Arrived”. That’s what Al-Farouq means. And, apparently, he IS “The King”. He descends from a line of Nigerian Kings. Take that, LeBron!
Yeah. But can THIS King go left?
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