So I'm at my sister's place Sunday watching the Lakers game with my Dad, bros-in-law and my nephew Ben. (He's only 9 months old and I am schooling him in the ways of the purple and gold - gotta start 'em young). What a perfect way to spend Easter Sunday, right? Wrong. Not because my brother-in-law is anti-Kobe and likes to razz me every chance he gets (love you Brian) but you'd think the powers that be could cough up a Lakers win on Easter Sunday? Especially for those of us who can't enjoy eating chocolate eggs. Thankfully, my Dad had veto over the controller and we moved onto 'greener pastures' and 'sand wedges'. Otherwise, it would have been no fun for me to stew over a Lakers loss, like the one on Sunday, with my brother-in-law laughing in the background. Brian would have been right, though. The Lakers are quite possibly on a slippery slope going into the play-offs in two weeks. Lots of question marks. We'll talk about those, Chris Bosh and the latest accolades, the Hall inductees and the Mike Krzyzewski rumours which say the Duke coach is moving to New Jersey.
The Easter Bunny... (earmuffs)... Sucks
Really? To the Spurs? Even Manu Ginobili was quoted as saying "...it wasn't even in our wildest dreams to win a game by (19) against the Lakers". Ok. Rub it in. The Lakers trailed by as many as 15 in the first half and got to within 2 at the 8:39 mark but that was it for them. The Spurs exploded and took control of the game largely in part because of Manu. He's been averaging 29.2 points in the last eight games the Spurs have played and his shooting is at 53.9 percent. And he can make the big shots, too. He hits a 3-pointer, snapping any momentum the Lakers were gaining and got his team to an 87-72 lead with about five minutes left in the second half. Unbelievable. Maybe something needs to be said about teams who perform well with the playoffs just around the corner. Do we put our faith in the teams with big stars to carry them into the play-offs? Not really. Look what happened to Lebron last year. I have heard people say that the Cavs should win it this year for Lebron. I love Lebron, don't get me wrong. But I don't like the idea of a team winning a championship to reward it's star. It should be for the team as kudos for a season of blood, sweat and tears.
Maybe this is why Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson ripped into the refs Sunday afternoon. He was fined $35, 000 for publicly criticizing the officials after Ron Artest drew a matching technical foul with Manu Ginobili. Then Artest gets a personal foul and Kobe puts fuel on the Jackson smokestack by adding another technical foul to the mix. This just highlighted the Lakers "issues". Phil Jackson and the team were pretty ticked off to be losing a game to the Spurs starting in the first half. And when you play frustrated, you start to lose confidence and make silly mistakes like technical fouls and all focus is lost. Let's hope the day off from practice Monday gives the Lakers a chance to re-group.
Cooper's in the Hall - Love it!
I remember the day I got her jersey. Boxing Day back in high school (not going to date myself yet). I was at my Aunt Judy's and in walks my cousin who just got back from Houston. I put in a special request for him to stop by the home of the Comets and purchase my first basketball jersey. Number 14 - Cynthia Cooper. She won four WNBA championships with the Houston Comets and was named finals MVP with each title. I remember the last one and the confetti falling all around her, Sheryl Swoopes, Tina Thompson and the rest of the team. The first WNBA dynasty. So obviously, Cynthia deserves a spot in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. She joins Jerry Buss, Bob Hurley Sr., Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen along with two team inductees: the 1960 USA Men's Olympic Team and the 1992 USA Basketball "Dream Team". Dennis Johnson, Gus Johnson and international star Maciel Pereira will also be honoured. I like that the hall recognizes team as well as individual accomplishments.
I know a lot of people who didn't like the FIBA rule change in 1989 which allowed teams to use professionals. Sure, of the 12 on the roster, 10 members of the 1992 USA Men's Basketball team were named to the "50 Greatest players in NBA History" list. However, this pure dominance was only short lived. Remember, as basketball became more popular internationally in the late 1990s, the NBA housed more and more solid foreign players. This meant that the big bosses within USA basketball had a hard time arguing they alone were producing the best basketball players in the world. But that's what I love about this league. When Andrea Bargnani first came to the Raptors, I was really intrigued by his story. Here's a guy who comes from another country with nothing but basketball skills and not a stitch of English which people might forget is hard to learn at the same time as adjusting to the new language of NBA basketball and the Raptors' systems on the court. Those story lines are sometimes lost within the cutthroat world of contracts and big money since no slack is given when your paycheck has multiple zeroes at the end of a handful of other numbers.
Bosh - Player of the Week and Now What?
So Chris Bosh was named NBA Eastern Conference player of the week for the games he was in from March 29th through to April 4th. Look at his stats over the four games he played: 22 points and 11 rebounds versus Charlotte, 34 points and 11 rebounds against the Clippers, 28 points and 12 rebounds over Philadelphia and the cherry on the the banana split, 42 points and 12 rebounds against Golden State on Sunday. The first three games were wins and the scores passed the 100 mark on each side. The Raptors seem to like to win when the score gets that high. So you would think based on this track record and Bosh's points against Golden State, a Raptors win was inevitable. Not so fast. As you know, the Raptors lost to Golden State, by one measly point (113-112). I think if I were Bosh, I would rather have the award go to Boston's Rajon Rondo or the Cavs' LeBron James who were also in the running, than work hard for a game that didn't give back.
Duke wins Final Four and Loses Coach to the NBA ?
No. Don't get excited. Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski isn't packing his bags for New Jersey. But really, this is how it all starts. Michael Jordan didn't want to come to Charlotte but after some begging and pleading, he changed his mind. Apparently, no one has contacted Krzyzewski from the Denver Nuggets and no offer is on the table. For now. I would keep my eye on this story, though. He may just have MJ on speed-dial.