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Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Is it Really the Case?

The NBA cognoscenti used to joke that the favored NBA team would be Shaq with whatever four other guys you put out there with him. In Miami, at least, that adage will get tested somewhat, as the cupboard is relatively bare with the exception of star in the making Dwayne Wade and Eddie Jones. Check out the Heat's roster and figure out who will be the other 5 players in an eight-man rotation. It's hard to do.

The same holds true for the Houston Rockets, who have cobbled together a roster of suspects, old hands and prospects to play alongside Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. They just generated some media attention on what had to be a slow news day when they announced that they signed a former Fla. State backcourt -- Bob Sura and Charlie Ward, who last played in Tallahassee in 1994. Those are not impressive signings, as Houston now has from among Ward, Tyronn Lue and Reece Gaines to choose as their PG. They must be hoping that Gaines can emerge, because Ward and Lue are not first-string PGs, period. And the rest of the roster isn't going to wow anyone either. After Yao and T-Mac, try to pick the other 6 players to fill out Jeff Van Gundy's eight-man rotation. Again, it's hard to do.

Which means that the Van Gundy brothers both have unique challenges in forging championship teams. It may be that with Shaq and Wade Stan Van Gundy doesn't need much else, and I'm sure the Rockets are making a similar bet with Yao and McGrady.

It should be interesting to watch, and if both teams succeed they'll think they've created an even newer formula for success than the one Mark Cuban theorized based upon the Pistons' championship (which in essence was that you need 3 6'10" guys with long arms who can score inside and outside on the front line and play defense, and you'll win the title). That formula will be that you need two superstar-class players and then a cast of unselfish others who will keep on fueling the star system, who are good fundamental players, and who can hit the open shot when needed.

But, of course, that formula is not new at all. It's the recipe that Phil Jackson honed to perfection in Los Angeles. Remember that Shaq did play alongside with a guy named Kobe and won three titles.

Some coaches look for the next Michael Jordan, but I have the feeling that the Van Gundys will be looking for the next Derek Fischers, Robert Horrys, Rick Foxes, Brian Shaws to help get them to the next level.

Maybe it won't prove to be as hard as it sounds, as there are more of the Fischers, Horrys, Foxes and Shaws out there than Shaqs and Yaos. Lots more. But check out their teams rosters and see if you can find them.

It's not as easy as it looks, is it?


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