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Wednesday, June 16, 2004

All is Well in Detroit

Congratulations to the Detroit Pistons, who closed out the NBA Finals last night with a convincing 100-87 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Since the NBA converted to the 2-3-2 playoff format umpteen years ago, the Pistons are the first team to win the three games in the middle of the series at home. No team had ever done that before.

Of course, that's not the big news.

The big news is that the Pistons, with a tall, fluid front line and gritty guards, beat the team with the best 1-2 punch in the league. In a league where they lament the lack of big post players, perhaps the trend now will be to have about three 6'10" guys on your roster who can play inside and outside (with a few on the bench for relief). The Pistons showed great hoops evolution -- if you can't have the big diesel of your own, adapt, improvise, and win despite his presence. You have to love the way Ben Wallace (love the hair), Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince played together on the front line for the Pistons; the choreography was excellent.

The big news is that a guard whose career had more trips in it than Gerald Ford's found ultimate resurrection in not only leading his team to the NBA title, but in winning the MVP award for the playoffs (Chauncey Billups, who declared as part of his post-game press conference, that "God is good.").

The big news is that a coach with a wonderful resume that lacked basically one thing got that one thing -- the NBA title, in his 21st try (and that's a record too). Larry Brown won an NCAA title as a player (North Carolina), won an Olympic title as a player ('64 Olympics), won an NCAA title as a coach (Kansas in '88) and now has won an NBA championship. Given how NBA-centric the world is, I'm not sure whether he won titles as a player or a coach in the old American Basketball Association, but somehow I wouldn't put it past him. This summer "LB", as his players affectionately call him, goes for another milestone when he coaches the US Olympic team in Athens. And for all those players out there who are backing away from the US team, think twice -- you'll learn more about hoops in your month plus with Coach Larry than you had previously in any month in your life.

The big news is that the "other" great 2 guard from the Philadelphia suburbs quietly had a very effective series. When will they stop underestimating Rip Hamilton? He led his Connecticut Huskies team to an NCAA title, upsetting a favored Duke team, and now he's on an NBA champion, having played a critical role. The kid may be skinny, but he is a winner.

As for the Lakers, the big news, is, well, that they didn't have enough players to spread out Detroit's vaunted defense. The off-season will be a very interesting one for the Purple and Gold, as Kobe goes on trial, as Kobe is a free agent, as Phil Jackson says there is only a slim chance he will be back, and as everyone wonders whether Karl Malone and Gary Payton will be back. Shaq and Kobe held out their version of olive branches to each other last night in the post-game press conference, and while it may be difficult for those two to live with one another, their futures without one another on the basketball court don't hold the promise that a future together does.

So, who would have thunk it, a team from, yes, that much-maligned Eastern Conference won the NBA title? Over the Los Angeles Lakers with Shaq and Kobe. In five games. A result few had predicted.

That's why they play 'em.

Thank you, Detroit Pistons, for reminding us of that fact.


Blogger Sports Junky said...

I agree,

I love NCAAB. and recently I have bought stock in it. Not like real stock on Wall street, but a stock market that is strictly for sports.

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check it out if something like this interests you.
heres a link
you can log in and check it out for free..

They just released IPOS for NCAAB this week, so there are alot of good deals there.

Hope that helps

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