For those of you who've waited patiently for the last basketball blog of the year. . .here you go. . until November :)
--What a great series. The level of play wasn't the best, the games got ugly at times, but there couldn't have been two more evenly matched teams. These teams were equals. I"m still not sure the Lakers were "the best team", they outlasted the Celtics and were standing at the end.
--Character is why I like the NBA. . I love the sub-plots and the make-up of the teams and players. Game 7 is all about character and you saw it from some unlikely sources, . . namely, Rasheed Wallace and Ron Artest. The "thugs" were the guys with the courage to show up big in the end. Those of the faint of heart, "nice guys" need not apply.
(Ron Artest wins best postgame interview of all time by thanking his Psychiatrist! Loved that. . . .)
--Artest just flat out balled tonight. Paul Pierce and Rondo as well. Guys who weren't scared just going for it.
--A big question has to be. . .where has Rasheed Wallace been in the post for the last year? Or how about the last 10 years? In my mind Rasheed is in the long line of Charles Barkley, Vince Carter, Chris Webber, etc. . . of unrealized potential. That guy is unstoppable in the low post, and yet rarely ever killed teams with that as he showed tonight, . .and a few times in the late 90's with the Blazers. :) I was happy he had this game. . which we'd seen it more in these last few years.
--The officiating has been inconsistent in these Finals, tonight was very consistent: swallow the whistles. That was rugby out there at points tonight. I'm ok with it, but I think they might've called it a smidge tighter, just so it didn't get ugly and bogged down, which it did at points. All that to say, it was an evenly officiated game for the most part.
--Not to nitpick, but two missed calls were Gasol's travel at the end and Kobe's charge (which was called a block). I told Jody's dad that Gasol traveled right away, before the reply, it seemed obvious on t.v. That's basketball though, gotta deal with that.
--I loved the late 3 from DFish. . he and I had some great times together in the early 2000's. It's hard for me to root for this particular Lakers team, but I"ll always root for DFish. . .he's a class act, and has some Horry-esque tendencies in his late game heroics.
--I'll end with this. . . . let's please, please stop the Kobe/MJ comparisons tonight. Never again, ok? Kobe is no MJ. Show me where MJ shot 6-24 in a clinching game? Show me where MJ misses 4th quarter free throws at crucial points in the game?
Kobe works hard on copying the MJ fist pump, the MJ standing on the scorers table showing the number of titles (5), the MJ grimace, the MJ accent, . . . but he doesn't have the MJ game. I'm sorry. There is no other MJ. Kobe almost lost that game for the Lakers tonight. I appreciate the 16 boards from Kobe, I appreciate the athletic ability. But, Kobe hurts his own team too often. Shaq led the team to the first 3 titles of Kobe's career. Kobe ruined the 2004 finals for Shaq and his teammates (don't get me started), and had a sub-par 2008 finals. Kobe got saved by Gasol and Artest tonight.
That might seem harsh, but I don't think Kobe's the greatest. And, the conversations will start tonight after his 5th ring. I don't think Kobe even gets to take the important shots on the '87 Lakers, and I"ll leave it at that.
That blog got a little negative, sorry about that. Congrats to the Lakers and Celtics for a great series, and I hope all of these guys appreciate what they were a part of tonight. Great blog by my bro about that. Even in the midst of a silly game, these guys were part of something bigger than themselves tonight, two teams, two cities, defining moments. . .all great stuff.
EDIT: How could I forget Sasha Vujacic's free throws? Why did Phil J. put in a cold guy? That was crazy at the end. . . but he hit 'em. Give him credit. That was beyond Huge, I"m not sure what the next category is, but that's what those free throws were. I love all the "other guys" who had big moments tonight, Artest, Sasha, Baby, Rasheed, Rondo. . . great 4th quarter.