SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

76ers-Lakers Last Night

The family went to see the 76ers-Lakers game last night at the Wachovia Center, and I have the following observations.

1. Mo Cheeks can coach. He doesn't have many players, but he coached some outstanding offensive sets.

2. The 76ers have 2 main problems. First, they don't have enough guys who should be starters in the league. Second, they have absolutely NO inside game on offense.

3. The 76ers' dancers should have had poles out there on the floor for some of the outfits that they wore. Talk about a mixed message on the issue of family entertainment. It was A Shot of Love with Tila Tequila meets Red Auerbach. Just horrible.

4. The Lakers' bench is bad. Luke Walton (who starts) looks overmatched out there, but there's no challenger for his spot among the reserves. The other four Lakers' starters were excellent. Lamar Odom is hard to guard, Andrew Bynum showed flashes of greatness on offense (and scored over 20 points), Kobe had a good if not great night, and Derek Fisher was very clutch in the second half.

5. The 76ers should not ink Andre Iguodala to a max contract after this season. The reason: he can't take over a game night after night the way the previous AI, warts and all, could. Andre Miller drove the offense early, taking advantage of Fisher, but Iguodala disappears for periods during a game, and your megastar shouldn't do that. Someone else might be desperate enough to give Iguodala the max, but the 76ers shouldn't be afraid if that were to happen. They'd be better off, having made mistakes with Samuel Dalembert, among others.

6. GM Ed Stefanski should trade Andre Miller to the Heat before the deadline in exchange for Jason Williams, whose contract will expire after this season. Then he should make a serious run at Gilbert Arenas, assuming that Number 0's knee is in good shape. And he should find some low-post offensive players while he's at it.

7. Great tribute to the 1982-1983 Sixers at halftime. Dr. J and Clint Richardson (the third guard and a great defender) were on hand, and Dr. J is as elegant as ever. He gave a nice speech, and was most warmly received by the crowd. Quite frankly, the place should have been cheering out of its minds, but it wasn't packed, and many of the fans there were so young that they probably hardly remember him. Still, it was a nice tribute, and there were some flashbacks to his great plays during that season (including the cradle-the-baby dunk over Michael Cooper in the finals against the Lakers) and to Dave Zinkoff's public address calls, which were legendary. Great stuff for a great team, and it was fun to see Mo Cheeks as a younger man and clutch player.

8. Whoever the public address announcer is, they should can him. He can hardly hold a candle to the legendary Zinkoff, and why should the NBA create an atmosphere that resembles a mediocre MTV reality show? Where's the maturity, the dignity?

It was a fun atmosphere and a very good game. Mo Cheeks gets as much out of the talent he has as he can, but it's a team that won't win more than 40% of its games and will be in the lottery once again. The problem will be that if they keep on playing feisty b-ball, they'll end up at the bottom of the lottery and get another Thaddeus Young or Rodney Carney, when they need a Greg Oden or Kevin Durrant. That's a fundamental problem in the NBA -- that a team can stay below average if not awful -- for a long period of time. The entertainment value only goes so far.

What the fans really want are winners.

And, as Dr. J pointed out, it's been 25 years since Philadelphia has had a championship in a major sport.

And the way the 76ers and Flyers are playing in that building now, we can say "and counting."

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