I didn’t have time to address all the emails, so I will get to them later this week. However, I did want to cover one email in this addition of the mailbag. But before I get to it, let me say this. Chris Paul is not the best player in the league for all you folks out there that think he is. He is also not the most valuable player in the league. Championship teams are not built around point guards. They are built around Tim Duncans, Shaquille O’Neals, Hakeem Olajuwons, Kareem Abdul-Jabbars, Bill Russells, Moses Malones, etc. Michael Jordan was an exception, but he was one of the best to ever play this game. However, there might be another exception this year.
I just got finished watching Game Seven between the Spurs and the Hornets and I loved the outcome. The defending champs went on the road and dominated Chris Paul and the home team. And this is exactly why they are the defending champs. Honestly, New Orleans was not ready for this. Chris Paul was not ready for this. Experience in this situation is second to none.
Before the tip I received this email from loyal reader Dan Rust, “I’m starting this out with an assumption. The assumption is that New Orleans is going to fall to San Antonio tonight. If I’m wrong then simply place this e-mail in the trash; However, I just don’t see the Spurs going out like that. So….”
I didn’t see the Spurs going out like that either. I would have considered this a major upset if the Hornets won tonight. The Spurs are that good. However, Dan has a “So…” at the end of his sentence. ‘So,’ let’s continue with his email…
“I hate the Lakers, but I feel that they might move on to the finals. You predicted Spurs vs. Pistons for the final. I conferred with my magic 8-ball and it has forecasted Lakers vs. Pistons (actually i just asked it if it would be Lakers and Pistons gave it a shake and it said “It is certain”)…. Do you really think the Spurs can beat the Lakers? I never like to count out Big Fundamental (Timmy Duncan), but Kobe and the Lakers are pretty strong, have home court advantage, and are a younger faster team.”
I did predict the Spurs vs. Pistons for the finals this year (I actually nailed the top four teams), with the Spurs winning it all, again. However, I didn’t see the Lakers being this good. On February 1st, the Los Angeles Lakers traded Kwame Brown, rookie Javaris Crittenton, Aaron Mckie, the rights to Marc Gasol, and two future first round picks (2008, 2010) to Memphis for center Pau Gasol. In other words, an absolute steal for the Lakers. They instantly became a legitimate contender.
And now a legitimate contender is facing off against the defending champs. There is not a better match up that could have happened in the Western Conference. We are given two stories. The story of a dynasty. And the story of Kobe. Isn’t this exactly what we wanted? The perfect story of Kobe taking down the champions on the way to his first ring without Shaq? Or the dynasty maintaining their reign as champions of the NBA by not bowing down to anyone? Wait…am I discounting the Eastern Conference? I’ll address this later.
Dan asked the question, “Do you really think the Spurs can beat the Lakers?” Do I? Yes. Will they? No. I believe we are watching the Kobe Bryant that everyone wanted to see from the very beginning. He is surrounded with teammates that make his game that much more potent (something Lebron does not have in Cleveland). The Lakers play outstanding defense. They score so many easy baskets, including beautiful cuts in the lane with three to four Pau Gasol dunks per game. They hit the open shots. They have a deep bench. And most importantly, Kobe Bryant is playing the best basketball of his career, and that is dangerous for any opposing team.
I love the Big Fundamental, but he did not look at his best during the second half of tonight’s game. He played a huge part in the victory, but he was beatable tonight. And if Kobe smells the blood during this upcoming series, there is no doubt in my mind that he will go for the kill. I really do believe the Los Angeles Lakers will represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals.
However, am I discounting the Eastern Conference? Boston is not playing very good basketball right now. Kevin Garnett is playing well, but there is no other consistent player on their team. They just played two straight series that went seven games. They aren’t playing well on the road. Ray Allen is playing like Allan Ray. They have zero bench. And we have to remember, their coach is Doc Rivers. On the flip side (no pun intended), Detroit has been here before, six straight times to be exact. They seem to be peeking at the perfect time. They are well-rested, which is huge for Chauncey’s hamstring. Tayshaun has played brilliant basketball. Rip has played brilliant basketball. They have ‘Sheed. They have a bench. And I’m a huge Pistons fan.