I so badly want to write a hypercolumn that covers everything about the NBA Finals, but I’m currently a week and a half behind in my online college algebra class and have a test tonight that I can’t cheat on. Then I have to detrash my room on Tuesday (if you’ve ever seen my bedroom you’re shuddering right now). Then I work in the morning and am going to watch Zack Greinke pitch Wednesday night. (Yes, I do take excuse lessons from Stan Van Gundy- in case you were wondering.)
- Here’s the list of players whose legacies have been forever been altered by this NBA Finals: Derek Fisher (Top 5 clutch-role-player-shooters of all time), Pau Gasol (Top 5 international player of all time), Sasha Vujacic (Top 5 “Made-team-a-champion-by-avoiding-the-basketball” of all time/smelliest hugger in Finals history), Rashard Lewis (Top 5 Supporting Laker of all time; wait, he plays for the Magic?), Stan Van Gundy (Best ever recovery from a career in porn), Patrick Ewing (87,902nd all-time in NBA Finals Rings (Zero)), JJ Redick and Adam Morrison (Most awkward subplot that no one talked about of all time), Lamar Odom (I legitimately think that he turned the corner in these playoffs; if the Lakers don’t re-sign him they’ll kick themselves for the next 5 years), Hedo Turkoglu (Most face-time for a Zombie in Finals history), Jameer Nelson (Top 5 chemistry-killing returns in Finals history), Me (Most eviscerated finger nails during an NBA Finals), Shaq (best Tweeter in Finals history), Phil Jackson (Best NBA Coach of all-time), Kobe Bryant (Best player with dislocated finger of all-time; oh, and a top 10 NBA player of all time/second best Laker of all time/second best shooting guard of all time).
- I sort of mentioned this already, but Pau Watto and Lamar Odom will never be the same (in a good way). If the Lakers fail to re-sign Odom (which will be difficult considering both he and Trevor Ariza made themselves two of the top five free agents this summer), they’ll watch him play more consistently and tougher than any other point in his career for the next two to three years, at least. Winning a championship changes you. Ask Kendrick Perkins, James Posey, Robert Horry, Scottie Pippen, and so on. Adversely, if they can re-sign both he and Ariza, I’d take the over on +/- 1.5 titles for the Lakers in the next 4 years.
- It will be interesting to see if Phil Jackson comes back to try for a repeat and ring number 11. He has one year left on his contract, but hasn’t seemed decisively committed to a return in when asked.
- Gut-check time for Dwight Howard. He showed against Cleveland that he can dominate smaller, less-athletic post players in single coverage, but showed against LA that he has no moves to counter mixed coverages. He also has an annoying propensity for dropping the ball down by his waist while doing his only post move. Watch Pau Gasol when he catches the ball deep in the post. The ball will never go below his shoulders. Howard also over-commits on defense and ultimately proved me right as to why I didn’t think he was the best defensive player in the NBA this season- he struggles 1-on-1 against good centers. Howard has a lot to learn if he wants to be as dominant- on both ends of the floor- as Shaq.
- Speaking of Howard…Quick tangent- has a player ever more blatantly commandeered a nickname from a prominent figure as Howard has from Shaq? Sure Dwight, you can be Superman. Even though a guy that’s already done everything you’ve accomplished and much, much more in his career has already been going by that mantra since, oh I dunno, the 1990’s! Not only that, but the world has embraced the hijack. Everyone refers to him as Superman. The Magic Cheerleaders wear Superman capes. Karma exists, and his comeuppance came via (pronounced “vee-uh”) the form of Finals Failure. Boom.
- The only thing better than watching Lakers’ owner Jerry Buss’s son Joey accept the Larry O’Brien Trophy and give a, uh, well you couldn’t really call it a speech (I’ll go with “nerdy word vomit”) was their sister (the attractive, charismatic, and apparently black sheep sibling) Jeanie’s raucous Twitter support. (Some excellent stabs at Sir Joey by Bill Simmons here.)
- I’m going to jump on the Kobe-4-MVP bandwagon for next year. The guy hasn’t missed a game (including deep playoff runs, Olympic Qualifying one summer and the Olympics the next) since March 7th of ’07. The rest he’ll get this summer is going to pay dividends, and he is such an alpha dog that he’s going to defend his title with a vicious fervor. I legitimately think that a 29/6/6 with another all defensive selection while guiding the Lakers to an upper 60’s win total could be in play. Also, with all the fingers on his shooting hand fully healed, he could set a career high in shooting percentages.
- In the postgame analysis of Game 5, Jon Barry said “When [Lamar Odom] plays like this, the Lakers are the best team in the league.” Um, OK Jon. The Lakers just won a title. Enough with the variations of “When the Lakers play defense/Lamar plays great/get Pau lots of touches/get good decisions out of Kobe/play tough/make shots/win/try, they are the best team in the league. They are the best. That trophy that Sasha Vujacic is sweating all over says so.
- I’m staying away from the “Kobe jumped back ahead of LeBron as the NBA’s best player with this title” debate. LeBron couldn’t have done any more to beat Orlando in the Eastern Semis, but he just got as much support from his teammates as Mickey Rourke got from his supporting cast in The Wrestler. Seriously, I think he did more by himself than Beatrix did in Kill Bill. Mo Williams is a third banana trying to play second banana. Anderson Varejao and Big Z would come off of the bench for a lot of playoff teams. Ditto for Delonte West. You guys know that I love Kobe as much as anybody, but I have no doubt that LeBron would’ve won a title if he were in Kobe’s place on the Lakers. Take it easy everybody.
- Reason number 4,572 why I love Magic Johnson: While Michael Wilbon was talking about Magic and Jordan being the two greatest players of all time- and saying no one else was in their league- he didn’t jump in the convo, didn’t offer fake modesty, didn’t get offended that Jon Barry argued that Kobe was now in the same league (which he of course isn’t), and pulled off the perfect gracious/modest/confident face all at the same time. He’d be even with Jordan if he hadn’t gotten HIV.
- My favorite tidbits from the series: the fact that Adam Morrison, DJ MBenga, and Shannon Brown all have more rings than Patrick Ewing. The unbelievable media coverage given to the Kobe teeth-baring face. Adam Morrison’s mustache in prime-time again. DJ MBenga. Seeing cutaways to golf coverage and- more importantly- John Daly’s pants. Stan Van Gundy being the master of panic (love, love, LOVE that guy though; he just needs to realize that his calling is in the booth with his brother Stan). The disparity between famous season-ticket holders in LA and Orlando. The complete irrelevance in texting in your vote for player of the game- and the fact that I voted in every game anyway. I have a nasty habit of destroying my finger nails when I watch my sports teams play. After the roller coaster of a playoff run the Lakers made my nails are raw and I won’t be able to eat spicy finger foods for about 3 months. Shaq Tweeting this: “Congratualtions kobe, u deserve it. You played great . Enjoy it my man enjoy it. And I know what yur sayin rt now ‘Shaq how my ass taste'”People pretending they like the Orlando Magic because they blindly hate Kobe and the Lakers. The high-comedy of the fact that a story called “Kobe, Phil disagree on whether Kobe is a good guy” was ever written, let alone posted on the world’s most celebrated sports website. And, of course, most importantly: Lakers 4, Orlando 1.
Now on to real math.