Monday, June 15, 2009

Why the Lakers beat Orlando

With all the talent in the NBA, it's still amazing that great teams can kick it up a notch come playoff time. As much as it pains me being an LA sports hater since the womb, the Lakers were definitely the best team and wholeheartedly deserved the championship. Here's why:
  1. Kobe - the highlight reel looked similar to Jordan in his heyday
  2. Kobe - he led his team, getting them all involved using their strengths and sheltering their weaknesses
  3. Phil Jackson - yes, he is the best coach because he created the environment where the players could flourish (Mike Brown, coach of Cleveland - take note)
  4. The support players - Gasol ran the floor and played great defense like he's never played, Odom played clutch minutes, Ariza was the hidden, unsung goldmine throughout the playoffs and Fisher was just Fisher when they needed him (reminded me of Horry nailing clutch 3's)
  5. They played a team that was two-dimensional. While Dwight Howard has amazing talent and they shut down the heavily favored Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Championship, they lived by the 3 and died by the 3. It showed in Game 5.
  6. And lastly, the Lakers played like a team. Just like Boston last year, the Lakers proved that great team defense is what wins championships.
So in closing this NBA season, even though it's the Lakers winning their 15th championship, it was great to see a TEAM win it all. And much congratulations to Phil Jackson! He has to be a hero and the envy basketball coaches around the world. I personally hope that he comes back for another year - just get rid of Luke Walton (sorry Bill - but he's just too slow and too small).

Monday, June 1, 2009

Why Cleveland lost to Orlando

As good as LeBron James is (and all the comparisons to Michael Jordan can stop until he wins a championship), the Cleveland Cavaliers just didn't have the horses to finish the race. Primarily, they didn't have a big men to support James. Mo Williams and Delonte West did an admirable job, but Varajao was nothing but a big distraction with his flopping, whining, complaining way of playing and Ilgauskas with his feet of stone (nice outside shot for a big man but that was because other's weren't doing their job - Varajao) kept James from having real options for scoring and didn't play good team defense. Read the word TEAM in the last sentence. The bench was also of little help to the best player in the league as well. And where did they get off giving Mike Brown the coach of the year? Van Gundy completely out-coached him in this series!

So I don't blame James for being upset. His team was not capable of playing with him. While they are better than they were last year, they will continue to come up short when you have to rely on the likes of Ben Wallace and Wally Szerbiak to provide a jolt of energy and experience. Again, I don't understand why Brown gets coach of the year. His biggest play was give it to James and see what happens. And I have never seen a team that whines to the refs more than the Cavs (the Lakers are right up there). That all starts with the tone set by the coach.

All that said, James should have congratulated his opponents at the end of the series. His behavior showed bad sportsmanship, bad example for younger kids and a bad taste in my mouth for him as a person going forward. This is just another reason why the NBA changed the rules on taking kids right out of high school. While James proved to be a great guy in his 60 Minutes interview, all I have to say is "grow up". Quit acting like someone took your ball away. Orlando beat you fair and square. Man up and shake their hands no matter what you think.

Here's my advice for next year: dump Varajao for a real shooter in the #3 slot, put James at #4 (with his size - that's where he belongs), learn how to play real team defense (see Boston from last year) and develop some men with the rest of the group (never, never, never guarantee a win in public - how immature was that?). With that, good luck to Orlando - you guys are a better matchup for the Lakers anyway.