I have been quiet this year in the playoffs. Mainly because I was the guy who went out on a limb last year and said the Nuggets would beat the Lakers in the first round. Well, I was off by a year. Yes, the Nuggets still lost to the Lakers but at least there was a series this year. The Nuggets had a chance to win the series. They just could not handle the immense pressure of being in the moment. Kobe, the best finisher in the game, stole a game in the series and that was enough to break the Nuggets.
In the playoffs I have been waiting for Kobe’s team to choke. Each time they managed to win the series. Granted you never knew which Lakers team you were going to get. They even got berated by Erving “Magic” Johnson on ESPN. Jackson and his Zen chanting bull carried them through. I’m a Kobe hater and the first one to admit it. But I have to give him his props. He came through. He willed and facilitated his team to the Finals. He managed to SOMEHOW get contributions from people like Shannon Brown, Trevor Ariza, on again/off again Lamar Odom, and the crab cake Pau Gasol. See, a fried crab cake seems hard but once you bite you feel the softness of the crab as it oozes onto your plate. Gasol is soft and oozy; a finesse seven footer. Much to my dismay Kobe found a way to make the ooze work.
Barkley was perhaps the only analyst to pick Orlando to knock off King “Cry Baby” James. I wrote that off to Charles being Charles. Charles again went out on a limb and took the Magic to beat the Lakers in seven. I agree with the Round Mound of Rebound. The Magic have too much fire power. How is Kobe going to handle the fact that Pietrus is wearing Jordans? Every time Kobe gets the ball and looks down to make a move he will see the Air Jordan. That symbol is a constant reminder of the shadow he lives under. Pietrus is one of the best defenders in the game. He will challenge every step, dribble, head fake, and pass until Kobe makes a mistake.
In all seriousness, the Magic shoot the three better then the Lakers. The Magic also have a dominant center. They can play either inside out or outside in. Howard shot 70% at the free throw line in the Cleveland series. Turkoglu has played fantastic. Always hitting the big three ball. Not only can Turk shoot the three but he can also drive the lane. This will cause problems for the Lakers. The biggest wild card is the return of Jameer Nelson; He is that quick point guard that gives the Lakers fits. Fish has a difficult time with the quick point guard. Just look back at the Houston series and the success of Brooks. Now, I realize that regular season games don’t mean much in the playoffs but Jameer’s success against the Lakers can not be ignored. If Jameer can perform at remotely close to the way he was before the injury then the Lakers are in some serious trouble. Even if Nelson doesn’t play Rafer Alston will still be able to take Fish off the dribble. Alston isn’t as effective as Nelson but he isn’t a bad knockoff. He still fills the glaring hole at point quite effectively.
Will Kobe truly win the championship with crab cake Gasol? Kobe may have convinced Shaq to route for him but he has not convinced me. Good Luck Kobe! Prove me wrong and give me that final reason for me to sing your praises and anoint you as Michael’s replacement. I hope you don’t forget that years after Jordan walked away from the game Air Jordans are still on your court!