When the NBA Playoffs started, many of us viewed these games as preliminaries, until the Lakers would meet either the Cavaliers or the Celtics in the Championship Series. I think that most of us hoped that we would see a seven-game battle between two irresistible forces, Kobe and LeBron. It did seem possible that the Celtics might get in the way, especially if Kevin Garnet would be able to play. They had their concerns, but the Lakers finally disposed of the Jazz and the Rockets. The Cavaliers easily disposed of the Pistons and then struggled mightily to eliminate the Celtics. We now assumed that the Cavaliers would easily overcome the Magic, while the Lakers were doing the same to the Nuggets. Someone forgot to explain the script to the Players.
So, in this age of uncertainty, we go to press before the Cavaliers meet the Magic in game four of the Eastern Finals. In at least a mild surprise, the Magic leads this Series by two games to one. Since the Magic will play this game on their home court, the series will be likely 2-2, after Tuesday's game. These teams apparently don't know enough to give Kobe and LeBron the respect that many fans felt they had earned. So now these teams, their fans, and the television networks are sweating bullets. Most of the fans across the country would like to see the Cavaliers and the Lakers, and anything less will be a big disappointment.
To their chagrin, the Lakers discovered that the Nuggets have integrated Chauncey Billups into both their defensive and out offensive schemes. Somehow, they managed to get him by trading Allan Iverson to the Detroit Pistons. After the trade, the Nuggets flourished, and the Detroit Pistons sank faster than the stock of General Motors. The Nuggets already had George Karl, a great coach, and four of five above-average players. However, it was both the talent and the leadership of Billups that solidified this team. They now have essentially eight players playing against Bryant, Gasol, and Ariza.
The Nuggets exploited the fact that the Lakers depend primarily on Bryant and Gasol. The next most dependable player on the team is the hard-working Trevor Ariza.
It has always been difficult for me to understand why they have kept Lamar Odom on this team. Every now and then, he will use his talent to play a great game. However, he is simply a spectator most of the time. He has been in the NBA for nearly a dozen years, and teams have been fascinated, not by his actual play, but by his potential. His career has been one of waiting for this potential to flourish and make him a big star. Since it should be clear to anyone who is paying attention, that he is what he is, and that is not much.
He is on a team with Kobe Bryant, and game after game, he watches Bryant try his best to win every game. He also watches the opposing players beat Bryant about the head and shoulders, in their efforts to discourage him. Bryant is his teammate, and possibly his friend, but in most of the games Odom is just an idle spectator. He is in the last year of a $13 million annual contract. He has offered to return to the Lakers next year for less money. That is very generous of him, considering the fact that he exerts so little energy to get the money that he is not receiving.
It is my opinion that the Lakers need to add someone with muscle, like Utah's Carl Boozer, to help Bryant and Gasol. In addition, they need to find a gymnasium for the talented Gasol. He is a great player, and he is very tall. However, he does not appear to have a single muscle. Opposing players use their superior strength to simply push him away from the basket. He is not strong enough to push back. As a matter of fact, he is so weak that he can probably get a waiver so that he could use steroids. I won't even go into how useless Walton and Vujacic have become.
King George, the Imperial Owner of my favorite restaurant, ran in Monday's Marathon.
We have no knowledge of him finishing, and we have not been able to locate him. We have had teams of people and dogs out searching the route. No luck, so far. However, we are still optimistic that he will turn up. This year's disaster will not discourage him from entering the event next year. His friends and customers are only concerned, because he is such a great cook. Next year, we will make him carry a GPS device.
The Dodgers were very worried when Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games for using illegal substances. However, they need not have concerned, since at 31-15, they have the best record in baseball. Now that he realizes that he is not indispensable to the success of the team, he will probably be on his best behavior when he rejoins the team in July.