Friday, June 18, 2010

The Morning After: NBA Finals Wrap-Up

And so. The Lakers, last night, won their 16th NBA championship against their hated rival, the Boston Celtics. Here are my thoughts on the game, post-game, and so called legacies.

  • First and foremost, a tip of the hat to the Lakers and their organization. Any time you can be the last one standing it's something to behold. And to be in the Finals for 3 straight years shows a commitment to excellence.
  • Last night, the Lakers defeated their most difficult opponent: themselves. I don't think any team in the league this season was as talented as LA from top to bottom. But Kobe played almost the whole season needing surgery on his finger & ankle. Good for him. In the game last night, although the defense was great from both sides, the game was there for LA all night. Despite Boston's great defense, LA pounded them on the offensive glass and were it not for LA missing so many free throws, probably due to nerves, this game would've looked a lot different with LA controlling it from start to finish.
  • Congrats to Ron Artest. I've always said that I wanted to see him & Lamar Odom do well, just based on the things that they've had to deal with in their lives outside of basketball. So shouts out to those two guys. The only thing that would've made it sweeter is if Stephon Marbury were on the team.
  • Ron Artest's post game interview goes in the interview Hall of Fame. Right up there with Allen Iverson's "Practice", Jim Mora's "Playoffs", and Denny Green's "They are who we thought they were". Athletes around the world should take note..This is how you do a postgame interview. UPDATE: Apparently, Ron didn't let it stop there. He gave TMZ this great quote: "Screw Disneyland, I'm going to Compton." HAHAHAAHAHA...My man wore his entire uniform out to dinner. And he took his WHOLE family out with him. Gotta love Ron. ANOTHER UPDATE: The Artest legend just keeps on growing. It has been confirmed that Ron Artest was actually running along side the Celtics team bus screaming "Queensbridge". They should name 3 streets in the neighborhood after Ron, because NOBODY big ups their burrough more than Ron.
  • Speaking of crazy ish, watching Rasheed Wallace play last night was frustrating. Because you saw that if he actually cared, he'd be a first ballot Hall of Famer. His post game is almost unstoppable. But after the game, both Doc Rivers & Ray Allen have confirmed that there were many tears shed in the Celtics' locker room. Well, apparently, Rasheed let his emotions get the best of him and stormed into the officials' locker room and had to be removed by security. Sheed said he just wanted to talk. WOW.
  • As far as Boston is concerned, this may be the end of what could've been a modern day Celtics dynasty. Father time & injuries derailed it. I still contend that had KG's wheel not gone bad on him last year, this would be the 3rd year in a row that the two teams met in the Finals. But then again, if IF was a 5th we'd all be effed up...So no need to speak in terms of hypotheticals. The best years of KG, Ray Allen, Rasheed, and maybe Paul Pierce are in the rear view mirrors at this point. But they put up a valiant effort to take what they had to a Game 7 in the Finals. And from all of that has emerged one more name to throw in the mix with the game's elite point guards.
  • That being said, let's not get caught up in the moment. The one thing I hate about the playoffs is the hyperbole from commentators. Rondo is not the best point guard in basketball. Chris Paul is. And if he weren't it would be Derron Williams..or Tony Paker..or Derrick Rose..and when did Jason Kidd retire? Rondo takes a back seat to all of them. And Pau Gasol the best big man in basketball? Are you kidding me? When did Dwight Howard stop playing? Even a withered Tim Duncan is still better. Chris Bosh's team is so irrelevant that he goes largely underappreciated. But give me a break with the Gasol being the best big man in the game. He may be the most skilled, but he benefits largely from playing on a great team. I haven't seen him deal with double teams consistently since he left Memphis.
  • There's an old saying that a dog can howl at the moon all night long, but if the moon barks/howls back, the dog becomes famous. Kobe, had his chance to be the moon last night. But he blew it. His longstanding strained relationship with Shaquille O'Neal is well documented, but Kobe could have and SHOULD have been the bigger man, but he had to rub this one in Shaq's face. Actually called him out by name. Somebody on his PR team needs to tell him that sometimes you can say the most by saying nothing at all. But then again, his PR team was responsible for this. Somebody should be fired.
  • And to kill this argument before it gets out of hand, Kobe is not Michael Jordan. There's only one Michael. As much as people think I hate Kobe, trust me when I tell you that my disdain for Jordan was exponentially greater. But I will give the devil his due. And Michael Jordan, Kobe is not. And he never will be. Not even close. A great player? Of course. The best of his generation? Absolutely. But compare and make cases as you may, what Michael was able to accomplish was not of this world.
  • I can't say this enough, let's not be prisoners of the moment. Just because someone is the best player that YOU'VE seen, doesn't mean that he's the best ever. For example, Shaquille O'Neal is by far the most dominant big man I've ever seen play, but I didn't see Wilt play, I didn't see Russell play, and I didn't get to watch Kareem in his prime. For that reason, I won't ever say that Shaq is the best to ever do it. He's just the best I've ever seen. And to counter the inevitable argument about those guys in the past just being better physically than their opponents, look at it this way. 20 years from now when everybody on the court has LeBron's size & skillset, because of the bigger, faster, stronger evolution of athletes, in fairness, you won't be able to discount what Kobe's doing today. You have to give him his just due.
  • And lastly, unless Kobe is retiring tomorrow, let's hold off on the talk about his legacy. It's unfair to compare his body of work before it's finished. Sure, it makes good water cooler talk, but nothing else beyond that. Let the man finish before we start trying to compare apples to apples.

And with it football season yet?