Remarkable NBA Final Gets My Mind Working
During the years I traveled with Laker teams I covered the NBA Finals 10 times.
There were many memorable games and etched in my mind was winning a championship in Boston Garden, at last conquering the Celtics.
When we flew home there were several billboards in West Los Angeles. The words were ‘The Lakers have never beaten the Celtics in the NBA Finals.’ The word never had a line drawn through it.
Now we’ve had an NBA Finals that will rank with the great ones of the past.
Miami is the champion for the second straight year, but it received a major test from a gallant San Antonio team that held a 3-2 lead and had Game 6 in its grasp before faltering in the last 20 seconds.
This was basketball at its best and the series leaves me with many conclusions.
LeBron James is the best player in the world. Dwayne Wade is a winner who doesn’t let knee injuries keep him from being a major contributor.
The Heat, however, may be vulnerable next season if they don’t improve a weak inside game. Indiana and Chicago figure to provide formidable opposition. The Pacers’ greater size and strength made the Eastern Conference Final most interesting.
Too bad Pat Riley isn’t making decisions for the Lakers. They sure could use his savvy understanding of the NBA and his clout in bringing in free agents.
It’s too bad the Lakers don’t have Riley, Jerry West or Magic Johnson in their front office with Mitch Kupchak. Riley lured James to Miani. West lured Shaqille O’Neal to the Lakers. Johnson, on the NBA Channel, gives viewers his intelligent take on the league.
Meanwhile, the Spurs remain a force in the NBA long after many fans considered them too old. Hey, fans, the Spurs keep adding outstanding young players to the old guys, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker. I mean Kawai Leonard, Danny Green and Gary Neal. And the Spurs have salary cap room to sign a quality free agent this summer.
My favorite quote of the Finals was Wade’s comment that he had a talk with his knees the afternoon of the final game.
“Treat me well for this game and I’ll be good to you all summer,” he told us he told them.
Then he played a great game. Don’t forget he won an NBA championship before James arrived, meaning he has three compared to two for James and Chris Bosch.
Riley made a call before the 2003 draft asking someone he trusted who had a better chance to be a major star, Wade or Chris Kaman.
The answer was Wade. Riley listened and made the right decision even though the Heat needed a center.