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ARE THE LAKERS THAT GOOD or IS THE NBA THAT BAD?

 

Coach PHIL JACKSON did a masterful job of getting the two superstars to play together and have the remaining players accept being ROLE PLAYERS.

Shaquille O'Neal attacks - NBA NBA photo - Rocky Widner

 

 

James Loving - National Radio Text Service

 

The smoke has cleared and the dust has settled. The Los Angles Lakers have won the NBA Championship. Their fans celebrated by trashing and burning police cars and business.'

 

Wednesday June 21, 2000

 

The Lakers won the championship by default. As poor as this team is there was NO COMPETITION in the NBA's post MICHAEL JORDAN era. WHY THE NBA IS THAT BAD.

The Los Angeles Lakers winning the title brought to mind are they the WORST team to have ever won an NBA Championship? Well OK there were teams in the early 50's this Lakers team could possibly defeat in a NBA Championship series but who else?

The Lakers are a poor excuse for a championship team. They won with just TWO PLAYERS, KOBE BRYANT and SHAQUILLE O'NEAL. The remainder of the elderly veteran squad filled in admirably but they weren't an overpowering threat as a total team. It basically was street/school-yard two-man basketball play of Bryant and O'Neal. It was like nobody on the opposition yelled out "They're playing two!" Thus they got away with it. I wonder if the opposition called picks?

Coach PHIL JACKSON did a masterful job of getting the two superstars to play together and have the remaining players accept being ROLE PLAYERS. That includes all-star malcontent reported soon to be ex-Laker GLEN RICE.

Managing the egos of mega millionaire players is a feat in itself and Action Jackson did it. Jackson does maintain some respect since his six NBA coaching championship rings with the Chicago Bulls commanded him a five year $30 million contract. His other championship ring as a player with the 1973 New York Knicks proves that he can do it and not just talk about it [what it takes to win]. He now owns EIGHT NBA championship rings. Excuse me I have to find a place to bow to the great old Zen Man.

Throughout the season O'Neal was shown favoritism by the referees. During the playoffs he spent enough time in the paint without being called for a three-second violation that HE SHOULD HAVE PAID RENT. If you were to charge him for renting the space he took up he would be paying BIG, BIG RENT or SUPER BIG if you will. Permitting him stay in the paint is like giving him the Boardwalk and Park Place in a Monopoly game.

The NBA teams seemed to be in such awe of O'Neal's physical presence that they permitted him to do whatever he wished. He was like Sea Worlds SHAMU the whale jumping out of the water to catch a fish. NOBODY TRIED TO STOP HIM. It was as if the players were afraid of getting hurt by challenging him. HE HAD A FEAST and the rest of the NBA starved. It was tuna for him minnow's for them. It was like watching a matador in this case the NBA players waiving his/their cape at a the bull O'Neal and they let him go by. OLE, OLE.

In the fourth game of the finals 5-11, 182 pound (1,80/82,6) TRAVIS BEST hammered the 7-1, 315 lb (2,16/142,9) O'Neal to the ground the way he should have been hammered throughout the year. He gave the Shaq Man a bit of good, old time NBA love.

That was typical old time NBA basketball when men were men and boys stayed at home and watched the games on television. It related to the days when DAVID didn't give a damn about GOLIATH.

Now the boys are playing in the NBA and wanting to be seen on TV playing highlight reel selfish showtime, look at me(!) HI MOM (!), basketball. These highlight reel slam dunking tactics are more closely related to ballet NOT basketball. It's pretty to watch BUT WHAT HAPPENED TO THE GAME?

Former coaching great JOHN WOODEN mentioned during an interview at a playoff game that the players today are far superior with their INDIVIDUAL TALENT but they are lacking in team play.

With the recent rule changes a player can barely put hands on another player. The game is now favoring sweetness and youth and pretty boy highlight reel play. It's as if the NBA is sending out checks for STYLE POINTS. I thought style points were in FIGURE SKATING. Perhaps I'm wrong.

The physically dominating 28 year-old O'Neal has NO challengers to his combination of physical strength, quickness, youth and talent. Patrick Ewing 38, on August 5 , and Hakeem Olajuwon 37, are at the end of their brilliant careers. They are aged and physically beaten up from many NBA wars. David Robinson will be 35, August 6 was never a physically imposing player and he is in his declining years of productivity. Dikembe Mutombo 34, lacks O'Neal's quickness. But hey. O'Neal's unique combination of quickness and strength is unrivaled by any player who has ever played the position. There may have been centers as strong but NOT as quick.

Portland's Arvydas Sabonis 35, has the body mass and talent to compete with O'Neal but he's now too old and physically beaten up from knee operations and most importantly TOO SLOW. When he was a young player he could match O'Neal PLUS he's a much better shooter and passer. But hey that was then and this is now.

Alonzo Mourning 30 is a power forward playing at the center position by default. WHY? THERE ARE FEW or NO CENTERS IN THE LEAGUE. Vlade Divac 32, is not strong enough to deal with O'Neal but who is? Thus O'Neal and the Lakers win by default AKA NO COMPETITION IN A WEAK talent depleted league with no centers. It's O'Neal's time to shine. It really is becoming his NBA WORLD. Alas he is becoming what he has been touting The Man from "TWISM" (This World Is Mine).

The NBA promoted the Lakers to death. They were celebrated as being the best in the league. Ugh!!!! By the way the referees supported the team it appears they made it happen.

The league is overweight with 29 franchises and declining attendance. The NBA's TV highlights have so much showbiz sizzle they forgot THE STEAK that steak is the game of TEAM basketball. The superstar salaries have PRICED OUT the average fan that would like to take his family to a game. The salary cap means most teams can only afford TWO star players that DEMAND big salaries. It's not unusual to see a star players ask for a contract of $70 to over a $100 million. The remainder of what's left under the team cap, (PEANUTS if you will) is dispersed among the MINIONS (or supporting cast) of the team.

A drafted star player usually receives a three-year contract. After the second year, if successful, the star or his agent greedily ask for a raise and negotiate for a contract extension. They like to ask for ALL OF THE MONEY left under the salary cap. It seems the attitude is: TO HELL WITH THE REST OF THE TEAM.

If the team denies the request it is usually left with a malcontent player who is trying to selfishly bolster his stats to become more attractive as a free agent.

What is one of the main reasons the NBA is bad or not as good s it used to be? Star players make so much money it may cause resentment to the remainder of the team. The stars want not only to be the highest paid on the squad but in the league. Sometimes this ego is massaged by making the player the highest paid in the league at his position. In many cases the star makes so much money that the lowly paid coach HAS NO or little CONTROL of the STARS EGO and that helps deflate team moral.

With the leagues focus on marketing and the protection of its marquee players they are far removed from real basketball and too much into a show business Disneyland type environment. They seem to be one step away from having Disney purchasing a franchise so the players then could wave into the TV cameras yelling "Hi MOM" and "We Love This Game" while wearing MICKEY MOUSE EARS or GOOFY (the dog) MASKS. Ohhhh my!!!

But hey the Lakers have won and lets give them credit even though there was NO COMPETITION. They proved they were not shackled after all with O'Neals abundant talent and poor leadership leaves the Lakers Shaq-Keld. Jackson changed all that and so did Shaq, he grew up under Jackson's tutelage.

The Portland Trail Blazers were the league's MOST TALENTED team in the league. Their problem was they got conference finals jitters and CHOKED and lost a 15 point lead going into the final quarter of game seven of the Western finals. The Lakers having choked so much in the playoffs in the past recognized the opportunity and to their credit, seized it. That was a win the Lakers got by default which led to their NBA finals appearance against an overmatched and VERY SLENDER Indiana Pacer team.

 

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