MIXED EMOTIONS - I had predicted that the Thunder would slaughter the Lakers. The way that I had analyzed the teams showed that there could be no other outcome. Yet, as I was watching it happen, I found myself rooting for the Lakers, and hoping that they could find a way to win. The Thunder not only wanted to win the game; they also wanted to settle some old scores. They wanted to punish Metta World Peace for smashing his elbow into James Harden's face. They also wanted to show the world that they can now play Big Boy Basketball.
When the dust had settled, the Thunder had beaten the Lakers by a score of 119-90. As lopsided as the score was, the game was not even that close. The Thunder could have scored 150 points, if they had chosen to do so. The days when the Lakers were the top dogs in the NBA have come and gone. The NBA Champion will be the San Antonio Spurs, or the Oklahoma City Thunder, or the Miami Heat, and either the Philadelphia 76ers, or the Boston Celtics.
Some of the fans of the Lakers have unrealistic expectations for them. They cannot win the championship every year. The Draft and the Salary Cap are designed to keep the league competitive. In an ideal world, each team would win the NBA Championship once every 32 years.
MAGIC JOHNSON - The first time I saw him was in the NCAA Championship Basketball Game between Indiana State University and Michigan State University. Indiana State was undefeated, and their star player was an athlete named Larry Bird. Magic Johnson was the leader of the Michigan State team, and they were to meet in the most anticipated game of the year, if not the decade.
Johnson was different from what I had expected. He was a college superstar, but he preferred to pass the ball to a teammate, rather than shoot it himself. Byrd was a tireless opponent, who was skilled in every facet of the game. He played as if his very existence depended upon him winning.
The years passed and these two mortal enemies ultimately became the best of friends. The same ambition that drove them on the basketball floor also helped them to become successful businessmen.
Johnson recently stated on television that Lakers head coach Mike Brown would be fired, if the team lost to Denver in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. The Lakers organization responded by saying that they had no intention of firing Brown. Irrespective of what Johnson had said ,the point is now moot, since the Lakers did defeat the Nuggets. Johnson is still my hero; however his remarks about Brown seem to be both unnecessary and ill-advised.
He is now a part of the new ownership group of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Because Frank McCourt had become so unpopular, this group was welcomed by the fans with open arms, hearts and wallets. They reportedly paid $2.15 billion for a team that was reportedly worth around $800 million. This purchase led most of us to believe that McCourt would no longer be involved with the Dodgers. However, we are now hearing that he was able to keep his precious parking lots, and that he and the new owners of the team, will likely be working together on some real estate developments.
So in a span of a few months, McCourt went from being unable to make payroll for the baseball players, to having a net worth of over $1 billion. The man is a financial genius, and he should be made Secretary of the Treasury. Some wag just suggested that the $2 billion that Chase Bank lost, might be here in Los Angeles. Johnson has made some contradictory statements about who owns what, and how things are going to be run. He is still my hero, but I am now worried about him, and about us.
The Clippers will meet the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference semi- finals of the NBA. They have exceeded everyone's expectations this year, but I expect that the Spurs will sweep them in four games. At this point, the Clippers have one truly great player, and his name is Chris Paul. They also have Blake Griffin, and he is an exciting player, who always gives his best. However, he is not yet a fundamentally sound player, and the Spurs are likely to find many ways to exploit him. The Clippers are headed in the right direction, while the Lakers are slip, sliding away. So, it may be several years before the teams meet in a Playoff Game at Staples Center.
It now looks as if USC will gain full control of both the Coliseum and the Sports Arena. They have announced that they plan to spend around $70 million on improvements for these facilities. The Politicians who have been running the Coliseum since it was built have proven that they are incapable of doing so. In addition, there is currently an ongoing investigation, which will probably lead to arrests and charges of bribery and corruption. This is good news both for the Coliseum, for USC, and for the citizens who live in that area. However, they need to be absolutely certain that Frank McCourt does not manage to get ownership of the Parking Lots.