Monday, June 09, 2008

Monday Night Musings

With about 7 minutes left in last night's Game 2 between the C's and Lakers, I was contemplating exactly how many different ways I was going to hammer Phil Jackson and the entire Laker squad and exalt the Celtics in this space. Then, the Lakers mounted their furious comeback and left me unwilling to bury them just yet, but they aren't completely off the hook:

  • Through two games, the difference in the Finals can be summarized in one word: Toughness. The Celtics have it and the Lakers don't. Sure, the disparity in free throws was absurd last night, but it was every bit the product of the Lakers' unwillingness to attack the basket and refusal to play hard nose defense as it was the failings of the officials. Even during the comeback, the Lakers feasted on wide open 3 point looks and the general complacency and laziness of the Celtics. I just re-watched the last 8 minutes of last night's game on TIVO, and I am now convinced the comeback tells us nothing about the direction of this series. The only lessons to be learned so far come from the 4th quarter of Game 1 and the first 40.5 minutes of Game 2. In those 52.5 minutes of basketball, one team looked like they knew how to play defense, one team had offensive continuity, and only one team looked tough enough to win a title. And amazingly, that was the team that didn't have the benefit of having Kobe's DNA instilled in it.

  • Through the years, I have always revered Phil Jackson. Unfortunately, however, his post game performances after Games 1 & 2 have done a lot to tarnish my opinion of this great coach. Instead of acknowledging his team's faults, and instead of giving credit to the Celtics, especially Paul Pierce, he has chosen to belittle Pierce's injury (not his place to question the toughness of a grizzled and durable vet like Pierce when nobody on his team can come close to matching his toughness), intentionally mis-pronounce Leon Powe's last name (I'm an attorney, trust me, I can spot patronization when I see it), and blame the referees for his team's 2-0 deficit. Not exactly classy. Who would have thought Kobe would be the one to rub off on Jackson instead of the other way around? And, by the way, Doc Rivers is coaching Jackson's jock off through 2 games. And yes, I just read that sentence three times before I could believe I actually wrote it.

  • The officiating has been dubious, but it will be every bit as dubious in the Lakers' favor in L.A. That is life in the NBA playoffs. In fact, this is one of the two reasons why I'm not ready to bury the Lakers just yet. The other, of course, is Kobe. By the way, I think the Lakers and their fans should give Brent Barry a call and ask for permission to bitch about the officiating.

  • On a different note, how about that Braves bullpen???? Honestly, I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

  • Speaking of the Braves, some of you might find it strange that I have yet to write anything about Smoltzie. As you may or may not know, Smoltzie is my favorite Brave of all time. Yes, even the great Dale Murphy takes a back seat to Smoltzie. Needless to say, last week's news was bitterly disappointing for me. If Smoltzie has pitched his last game, I will, at some point, share my thoughts and memories of his time on the hill in this space. To do so will take me far more time and energy than a typical entry, and I will gladly take on that task if the time comes. I, however, am not ready to do that just yet. For now, regardless of what the future holds, I'll just say "thank you, Smoltzie", and I will leave it at that.