Friday, June 13, 2003

Hi there sports fans. Apparently people are bored to death by the NBA finals this year between the San Antonio Spurs and New Jersey Nets. The ratings are terrible through four games.

You can save yourself having to watch any more of them by reading this: the Spurs have won the past two series in the same way-they've had pretty good games and stinky games through the first four, and then they won the fifth and sixth games to win the series. And that's just what's going to happen in the finals.

In the meantime I have been watching tapes of previous playoffs, most recently from 2001, when the Lakers won every game of every round except the first game of the finals, which they lost to the 76ers in overtime. It's been very interesting, and I hope somebody on the Lakers staff is doing the same thing.

Because there's lessons for what they need to do in the off-season evident from watching them in their heyday of dominance. Shaq was more active, athletic, focused and motivated than he was most of the time in 2003. He probably will return to form next year, and apparently Phil Jackson and he have already talked about this, about Shaq earning another MVP as well as another championship ring.

Kobe Bryant was brilliant at times, and at times over-excitable. He's gotten more mature and though he can still be uneven, he can be even more brilliant. He's having shoulder surgery soon, due to an injury early in the playoffs (2001 was also the only year he didn't have some kind of injury or illness during the playoffs in the last four years) but the change in his off-season routine may do him good. At least he's getting his surgery early enough that he'll be recovered before the season starts.

But the real lesson is what else they had in 2001. A strong and experienced power forward in Horace Grant. The Lakers are well aware of that problem. But what I learned to appreciate more was speed. The 2001 Lakers were faster than the Spurs, but the reverse was true in 2003. And though the 76ers won the first game of the finals partly because of the speed of their game on both offense and defense (and the Lakers' rust and bad conditioning after being off for 10 days), they were able to come back because they reasserted their speed. Against the Spurs and especially against the 76ers, they added speed to their lineup off the bench, with Tyron Lue. (I doubt that I'm spelling that right.)

I remembered Lue did a great job guarding/hounding Allen Iverson, but I had forgotten the contributions he made with other elements of his game. He brought the ball up through pressure, used speed and quickness to drive and pass, and he could shoot the 3.

He must have impressed Doug Collins, who was on the NBC team broadcasting the games, because when he became the coach of the Washington Wizards the next season, Lue was playing for him.

Now Lue is available and is said to be very interested in returning to the Lakers. This is a real no-brainer---they've got to get him. He's played their system before, he's gotten even better playing with Michael Jordan, and he's still fast.

So Kobe, I know you read this blog faithfully, so whisper his name in the correct ears, and let's get Lue for the Lakers next year.

Ears? Is this some kind of theme?

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