14 June 2004

Can The Lakers Come Back?

From the Detroit Free Press

I love basketball. I love Michael Jordan since his days at Chicago. The invincibility of the Chicago Bulls during their peak I attribute to both Michael Jordan and the Zen master, Phil Jackson. When the Chicago juggernaut broke up, I switched my allegiance to the Los Angeles Lakers. That was where Phil Jackson went and I think I was right after they won 3 NBA championships for 3 straight years. Now, the Lakers are back in the finals this year, but they are now against the wall against the Detroit Pistons at 3-1, in favor of the latter. Game 5 is on Wednesday. One more win by the Pistons, and the Lakers head to nowhere. What is happening to the Lakers? They got the Mailman, they got Payton, they got Kobe, and Shaq, and they're still falling down like London Bridge.

According to Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press:
"The giant is falling. The Lakers' machine is clanking in the city of motors and engines and it may not even have enough juice to take this series home. No team has come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals, which is where the Lakers are today, thanks to the Pistons' stirring 88-80 victory in Game 4 Sunday night [Monday morning here in Manila] at the Palace. By the end of the night, as the Pistons were high-fiving, the stars from L.A. were scowling and screaming at referees. Phil Jackson, who has never faced this kind of deficit, was visibly frustrated.

What's left? Unless Jackson has some hidden roster of young, fast and healthy players, Game 5 or 6 or 7 will ultimately, it seems, yield a similar result. The Pistons are simply well-matched against this team: when talent meets talent, when body meets body, and when hunger meets hunger. Especially when hunger meets hunger. What they are doing is a testament to guys working together and an indictment of guys working for themselves.

"Do you guys feel like it's over?" someone asked Jackson.

"They don't feel it's over," he said. "They just want a fair shake. They want an even break from the refs. They want to feel like they're not playing uphill."

Folks, when they start blaming the referees, it's over.

And Phil knows it.
So that's how the cookie crumbles?

I do hope Phil comes up with the triangle or the circular or the square offense. And Mitch Albom may be right. The Detroit Pistons may really be "working together," and the Lakers "working for themselves." That explains everything, don't you think? Whatever happens, the hungrier team will definitely win.

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