The Lakers sliced through the Jazz the way a hot knife goes through butter. I expected them to win, but I was surprised that they got a sweep. The Jazz do not have any big stars on their team, but they are well disciplined, and they are physically and mentally tough. However, the Lakers were not having any of it, and so now they can all go fishing, or do whatever they do in Utah.
The situation with the Phoenix Suns will be a little more complicated. The Suns are not as big as the Lakers, but they did lead the league in scoring, with an average of 110 points per game. They essentially maintained that average in their playoff victories over the defense minded San Antonio Spurs. So, whatever they are doing it has worked so far.
There are two big problems facing the Lakers. One is Amar'e Stoudemire and the other is Steve Nash. Stoudemire is 6'10" tall, and he weighs about 248 pounds. To put it simply, he is a Monster on the court. A physical presence that the Suns have rarely had, and he is also their inspirational leader. If the Lakers are to prevail, they must try to contain him, and thus limit the amount of destruction that he can do. That task will be assigned to Ron Artest of the Monster Control Program. He will, of course, get some help from his teammates, but the main burden will fall on him. This is the kind of job that he has relished in the past, so I suspect that he is looking forward to it. The other headache that the team will have to deal with is Steve Nash. It seems like he has been around forever, but he seems to be ageless. He appears to be as fast, and even cleverer, than he was when he escaped from Canada. He has always been able to dribble around any other players, make sensational passes, and to score with either hand. In short, the man is trouble. It seems to me, that the Lakers will try to defend him, with a committee led by Derek Fisher, Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar. Good luck.
I believe that the key to the Lakers chances of repeating as champions is the enigmatic Lamar Odom. The team can usually count on outstanding performances from Bryant, Gasol, and Fisher. Sometimes Odom plays really well, but there are times, he just stands around the floor like a man who is waiting for someone to bring his lunch to him.
One explanation for his erratic play has been that he eats M&Ms and other candies before, during and after the games. If that is the problem, then the Lakers might try to solve it by putting an M&M Dispenser on their bench. In addition, they might have Khloe Kardashian Odom sit right behind his seat on the bench, with a variety of candies and cookies for him to nibble on, every time he came out of the game.
I believe that if Odom would average about 15 points and 12 rebounds per game, for the rest of the Playoffs that the Lakers would easily dispose of the Suns, and then win a hard-fought Series against the Magic. They might also encourage her to make eye contact with him occasionally, hoping that this would motivate him to play better. Hey, these might not be good ideas, but he has been in the league for over 10 years, and no one yet a way to get him to consistently play up to his potential. His physical gifts have been compared to those of Magic Johnson. I won't say anything about what he thinks, because no one seems to know. I rest my case.
Grant Hill was always one of my favorite players, and he is now with the Suns. He played four years at Duke University, and he was both an Athletic and Academic All-American. He was a high draft choice, and there were expectations that he would have a great career. Regrettably, for him and the league, he suffered many major injuries. He probably can't recall the number of surgeries that he has had. His disappointing career was considered over, but the Suns decided to give him one more opportunity. He is now 37 years young, has been with them for two years, and he has played in most of the games. And the best news of all is that he has been remarkably healthy, so far.
Hill is scoring about nine points a game, while also grabbing seven rebounds. He is one of the most intelligent players to ever be in the NBA, one of the best educated, and one of the classiest people that you would ever want to meet. I am hoping that he remains healthy, and that he is sensational in a losing cause. Look for Hill to become an important person in the future. It might be in politics, sports, or in some business opportunity.
It is also nice to welcome head coach Alvin Gentry back to Los Angeles. You may recall that he was once the head coach of the Clippers, before they did him a favor by firing him. It would be a great idea for him to invite Donald T. Sterling and Mike Dunleavy to lunch.
A few months ago, I conceded the NBA championship to King James and his Cavaliers.
However, since they are having so much trouble with the Celtics, I now predict that the Lakers and the Magic will meet in the championship game. I won't try to predict a winner of this hypothetical game, but I am terrified at the thought of them having to face Vince Carter along with Dwight Howard.
Tiger Woods was injured and in a lot of pain. I did wonder though if he would have stuck it out, if he had been in the lead, or close to it. I can't imagine that he had more pain in his neck, and then he did in his leg, when he hobbled to a championship.