Lakers-Celtics, Chapter 12 Act 1.

What a fabulous time for basketball in the City of Angels……Los Angeles and Boston. Led by Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Phil Jackson the defending world champion Lakers are in the thick of their third straight NBA Finals and facing them, their arch rivals, KG, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics. INCREDIBLE!

63 champions in the history of “the Association” and these two teams have combined to win 32 of them. Boston has won 17 titles in 21 tries while the L.A./Minneapolis Lakers have earned 15 championships in a staggering 30 tries.

Think about it. The Lakers have represented the West in almost half of the finals while the Celtics have represented the East in a third of them. INCREDIBLE!

This is the 12th time these franchises have clashed head-to-head for the title with the Celtics winning a lop-sided nine of the first eleven including the one two seasons ago.

Lakers came out with purpose in game one of the 12th installment, their 31st finals appearance, at Staples Center in Los Angeles Thursday night beating the Celtics, 102-89.

The Lakers had everything going especially on the defensive end looking like the Celtics usually do……………STRAIGHT UP, PHYSICAL!

Meanwhile, the Celtics looked old, beat up and just plain tired.

The Lakers out-rebounded the Celtics, 42-31. The Lakers limited the Celtics to one for 10 from the three-point line and took the all-important “second chance points” category, 16-0. Quite uncharacteristic of the Celtics.

Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant led everyone with 30 points. Pau Gasol had 23 points to go along with 14 rebounds. Finals “rookie” Ron Artest had 15 points but gave Celtics forward Paul Pierce fits on the defensive end. Pierce did have 24 points but those were mostly in garbage time. Same goes for Kevin Garnett. He had 16 for Boston but looked like his knees were smarting and was completely out-played by Gasol.

OK. Remember, it’s just game one. In four other meetings between the two teams in the finals, the Lakers have taken the first game only to see the Celtics come back to win three of their 17 championships.

You can bet the Celtics will play more like themselves come game two Sunday back at Staples. They’re champions and Celtic Pride is quite a force when summoned.

Expect game two to be much closer and much more physical on both ends. Expect the Lakers to get a hard-fought win and a two-zero series lead going into Boston for the middle three games of the series next week. ENJOY!

“Bloop Singles”

  • God bless “The Wizard of Westwood“, 99-year old John R. Wooden.
  • The former UCLA Basktball Coach who led the Bruins to 10 NCAA Championships lies in grave condition. Talk about a man who lived by “carpe diem“.
  • Considering freshmen couldn’t play when Wooden coached and he practically had to change his roster every three years, Wooden is the greatest coach in team sports history.
  • Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success” is a blue print for, not only sports, but life in general.
  • As a sports fan who was raised in Los Angeles loving the Los Angeles Rams, Lakers, Kings and Dodgers, is it wrong that my favorite baseball player is New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter? As a fan mind you, I CAN’T STAND THE YANKEES!
  • LeBron may be known as “King James.” But Kobe Bryant’s “The Lord of the Rings.”
  • “King James” might be the reigning two-time NBA MVP, “Kid Kobe” is STILL the best basketball player on the planet.

Protest All You Want. But, Understand Those References.

courtesy: L.A. Times

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t even discuss politics and sports together. But, when the two are combined, shoved in your face, slandering the greatest country on Earth in the process, I can’t help but discuss the issues surrounding their collision.

Stems from Senate Bill 1070 passed by the Arizona Legislature earlier this month. The intent, as it is written in the bill itself, is to discourage and deter the unlawful entry and presence of aliens and economic activity by persons unlawfully present in the United States.

The Bill itself is a Federal one and has been in existence since the days of FDR. The Bill is administered, among other instances, when you are stopped for a traffic violation and the police officer requests you provide your license, registration and proof of insurance.

The Bill is in place to protect American Citizens and Foreign Citizens of ALL Nationalities who are in the United States LEGALLY.

Here’s where the passing of SB 1070 by the Arizona Legislature intersected with sports.

The Phoenix Suns wore alternate “Los Suns” jerseys for game two of their western conference semi-final series against the San Antonio Spurs, which happened to fall on Cinco de Mayo. According to Suns owner Ron Sarver, his team donned those jerseys in protest of the Bill to, in his words,

Honor our Latino community and the diversity of our league, the state of Arizona, and our nation.

No problem with that whatsoever.

Later, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson was asked about the Suns’ manner of protesting the Bill. Jackson responded by saying:

Am I crazy, or am I the only one that heard when the legislators said that `we just took United States immigration law and adapted it to our state?’

The same reporter followed up his comment by saying that Arizona had “usurped the federal law.” Jackson replied with:

It’s not usurping, they just copied it, is what they said they did, the legislators. Then they give it some teeth to be able to enforce it.

Nowhere did he say he agreed with Arizona’s legislation.  However, coach Jackson’s statements didn’t make the Mexican American Political Association and Southern California Immigration Coalition very happy prompting Nativo Lopez, the president of these groups, to say:

We are not happy with the position that Phil Jackson took. We want to call on Jackson and the Lakers to put on their Los Lakers jerseys, especially considering the tremendous support that the Lakers have enjoyed from the communities specifically targeted by the misguided and racist Arizona law.

Nothing wrong with Lopez’ statement and request after Jackson’s comments and in protest of SB 1070.

The L.A. City Council voted 13-1 to boycott Arizona products citing that Arizona’s Immigration Law is reminiscent of what the NAZIS did in Europe during the 1930s and 40s. Understand California’s Immigration Law is more stringent than Arizona’s.

In a statement prior to Monday‘s Lakers playoff game against the Suns, Coach Jackson said he wasn’t choosing sides in the matter and applauded the right of all peaceful groups to protest.

Move to Monday’s NBA Western Conference Finals opener in Los Angeles between Jackson’s Lakers and Sarver’s Suns. A protest was staged against SB 1070 and Jackson outside Staples Center with some protesters waving inverted American Flags with Swastikas on them. Previous protests against SB 1070 also accused the members of Arizona’s Legislators of being NAZIS because they passed the Bill.

Comparing the Arizona Legislature’s passing of SB 1070 to NAZI Germany IS A PROBLEM. To do this is OUT OF LINE.

Understanding the inhumanities the NAZIS orchestrated in Europe during the middle of the 20th Century and comparing those NAZI inhumanities to a Federal Bill designed to PROTECT LEGAL CITIZENS OF THIS COUNTRY, BE IT FOREIGNERS OR AMERICANS, is IGNORANT, INSULTING TO THOSE WHO SUFFERED NAZI ATROCITIES and DEMEANS THOSE ATROCITIES COMMITTED BY THE NAZIS.

I challenge all those who have the audacity to make such a comparison to visit the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles and experience NAZI atrocities through its collection of photographic and material evidence.

Maybe then they will understand the comparison IS out of line. Here’s a head start.

Between 1933-45, NAZI Germany illegally invaded every Continental European Country in Adolf  Hitler‘s quest to rule the world.

In the process, Hitler illegally revoked every Jews citizenship, stealing their possessions and right to live. Six-million Jews and those that “collaborated” with them (some five-million non-Jews including Christians and Catholics) were all part of his Final Solution to systematically exterminate the Jewish Race from existence. Those 11-million humans were MURDERED.

Among the atrocities to innocent men, women and children, Jews and their “collaborators” were executed by firing squads who shot them in the back after forcing them to dig their own graves. They were asphyxiated in trucks minus ventilation breathing in the exhaust from pipes in the truck. They were herded in cattle-cars to concentration camps where they were enslaved and experimented on in horrible ways which included being submerged in freezing water to determine how long it took to die in such conditions. Unmentionable surgical procedures were performed without anesthetics. Unspeakable torture was performed until death resulted.

Their skin was used to construct lamp-shades. Their flesh used to make soap and candle-wax. Their hair used to make pillows. Their teeth extracted to profit from gold fillings. Their possessions sold.

And the Final Solution, some were sent into Gas Chambers disguised as showers for mass extermination with their lifeless corpses cremated in ovens to “get rid of any evidence of wrong-doing.”

Entire families were wiped off the face of the Earth.

So, these questions have to be asked of those who’ve made the out of line comparison between the Atrocities of NAZI Germany and the Arizona Legislature‘s passing of SB 1070.

Where does SB 1070 read Legal Citizens will be stripped of that legal citizenship? Where does it say Illegal Persons will be herded, enslaved and experimented on in horrific ways resulting in certain death? Where does it say those Illegal Persons spared of those horrors will be gassed in chambers disguised as showers until they are dead and then, to get rid of any evidence of wrong-doing, cremated in ovens the size of apartment complexes? Where in SB 1070 does it read the intent of this Bill is to perform Genocide on a race of people?

Fact is, IT DOESN’T SAY ANY OF THIS!

Those groups frustrated, angry and in disagreement by the passing of a Bill designed to protect, in a legal, peaceful and humane manner, the LEGAL, TAX-PAYING CITIZENS of its States and Country against ILLEGALS who come here to manipulate the system, have every right to do so.

That’s what makes the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA THE GREATEST COUNTRY ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH. That’s why people from all over legally, and SOME ILLEGALLY, ENTER THIS COUNTRY. America provides them Freedoms they don’t have in their country of origin.

But to protest disagreements by waving inverted American Flags adorned with Swastikas and to compare Arizona’s Immigration Law to NAZI IDEALS is way off base and, honestly, those protesting in this manner should be escorted out of this country never allowed to return.

They should try that in their country of origin. Odds are they’d get thrown in jail.

U.S. Citizens in the Latino Community, go right ahead and protest all you want. That’s your constitutional right as legal residents in this country.

L.A. City Council Members, go ahead and vote to boycott Arizona products because they passed an immigration bill you believe to be unconstitutional even though it‘s been Federal Law for decades. That’s your constitutional right.

So, in defending your constitutional rights, PLEASE be mindful of comparisons used to make your point in protest because your ignorance and lack of knowledge of events, such as the NAZI ATROCITIES, you used only works to damage your credibility and that of your cause.

Remember, knowledge is power. Ignorance is just what it is.

And how about leaving ignorant and intelligent protests out of sports (especially the ignorant ones)  unless they’re about sports.

LeBron May Be “King James,” But Kobe IS “The Lord of the Rings”

Individual stats don’t mean a thing here. I could throw them down. But why? You already know them, can find them on many assorted web sites and they speak for themselves.

No doubt that at the moment LeBron James is the most talented basketball player in the world. As he should be. He’s been in the league seven years and he’s only 25. LeBron, the two-time reigning NBA MVP, is “The King of the Court.”

We are ALL WITNESS to the ONE.

Reminds me of a story.

Not too long ago in the “Hoops Kingdom,” there once was a little prince Los Angeleno’s affectionately called “Kid Kobe.” Like LBJ, Kid Kobe entered the “joust” at the tender age of 18 years old. The little prince took his lumps.

Then, under the huge wing of “The Big Aristotle” and a wise wizard, “The Zen Master,” he learned and matured.

The three, along with their merry men, formed a magical “Triangle” that conquered the kingdom for three straight years and they all became “Lords of the Rings.”

Until the political power-struggle between the trio during the fourth attempt, where they relinquished the kingdom to the “Mad Men from the Motor City” who were guided by the powerful “Larry the Nomad.”

Aristotle left for greener everglades in the “Land of the Sun, Sea and Damsels with Blue Hair.” Zen did as well, riding his motorized stallion to his lair in the North. Kid Kobe was crowned Sole Ruler of the “City of Angels.”

The going was tough for the young and hungry ruler. Many changes occurred at his triangular table. He soon realized “the needs of the many, out-weigh the needs of the one.” He threatened to leave his kingdom to try and conquer another if he couldn’t surround himself with Knights worthy to become “Lords.”

Seeing the unrest, and at the behest of “The Doctor,” the Zen Master returned from the North to reunite with his Young Ruler. Oddly enough, the Ruler HAD knights worthy surrounding him all along. The “Power of the Triangle” was what made the Ruler and his Knights a fabulous show for all times. However, as valiantly as they battled, “The Angeleno’s” could not climb out of the “Valley of the Sun.” The ruler pleaded for help.

During the middle of the next attempt, a “Spanish Conqueror,” majestic among his people and ruler of his court, was summoned. The new trio and their band of merry men began to steamroll through the Western Civilization, which included “setting the army from the valley of the sun.”  The, now, experienced Ruler was happy again and loaded with knights to again take his rightful place atop the whole hoops kingdom.

Alas, in his quest, the Ruler and his army were stopped by the “Green Leprechauns” from the East who, at the expense of The Angeleno’s, added rings to their not so hidden treasures.

The Ambitious Ruler vowed he would regain the ring. In the next attempt, his 30th year on this Earth, The Angeleno’s ascended to the top of the Hoops Kingdom.

The Ruler was “Lord of the Rings” once again. And they lived………………

Of course, the story was about Kobe Bryant and the World Champion Los Angeles Lakers. What drives “Kid Kobe” is winning. In the Kobe Era, the Lakers have won four rings in six attempts. Kobe’s got one league Most Valuable Player Award and one Finals MVP. The difference, the Four Rings.

At the moment, for “King James” it’s about individual stats. Two league MVP’s. Zero for one in the Finals.

Brings me to this. The Cleveland Cavaliers have assembled a team around LeBron that’s absolutely good enough to win a World Championship. After two straight bad losses in the Eastern Conference Semi’s to the Boston Celtics it looks as if he seems to lack two skills Kobe’s mastered. LeBron’s not a facilitator, meaning he still doesn’t know how to bring out the immense talents of his teammates, especially when he’s having an off night. Also, LeBron’s clearly not the closer Kobe is. He can, but not consistently, go for the jugular and put an opponent away the way Kobe can.

In the Cavaliers 32-point game five loss to the Celtics, Lebron was so not in the loop, he looked more like the 12th man off the bench. Subsequently, his teammates, who are programmed to defer to LeBron, looked so lost it appeared they had never played basketball before that particular game. Except for four-time world champion Shaquille O’Neal who is playing consistently well in these playoffs.

Sure, you’ve got to give plenty of the blame for the Cavs horrendous play on King James. But, I think Cleveland head coach Mike Brown has to take plenty of heat because the rest of the team seems lost when LeBron is having an “off night.”

Says plenty about Lakers coach Phil Jackson. He won his ten rings, and is on his way to battling for number 11, because all his players are big parts of any game-plan. Kobe’s the focal point as Michael Jordan was with the  Chicago Bulls. But the rest of the team, which is ten deep, understand they have to contribute, even when Kobe has an “off night,” if the Lakers are to win.

At the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, both LeBron and Kobe were part of the Gold Medal winning Team USA. Who was the absolute leader of that team? Kobe.

Realize LeBron’s just 25 while Kobe’s now 31. “King James” will have his moments and championships. Realize the Cavaliers, despite that tank-job losing to the Celtics 120-88, are still alive. Free agent to be “King James” can still conquer the court and get a ring this year.

However, I think it’s way pre-mature that people have passed the “Best Player on the Planet Torch” from Kobe to LeBron. For one reason and one reason only.

LeBron may be “King James”. But Kobe IS “The Lord of the Rings.”

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