Lakers' home playoff streak safe
LOS ANGELES -- It's time for one of your favorite segments: Fearless Prediction Time.
Fearless Prediction No. 1: The Lakers will win Game 6 on Monday night and remain the only team in these playoffs that hasn't lost a home game. ("I hope you didn't just jinx us," Karl Malone says.)
Fearless Prediction No. 2: The Pistons will win their Game 6 on Tuesday night and uphold the belief that they are the East team most equipped to play the West champs somewhat evenly in the Finals.
Fearless Prediction No. 3: The stars will be Americans even if the unmissable predictions above are somehow spoiled by supernatural forces.
These aren't the happiest times for Yankee basketball, given all the problems the league is having filling out its Olympic roster for Athens. There is this, though: The rise to prominence of the NBA's foreign-born stars hasn't transferred to this spring's conference finals, where the Yanks are dominating.
Canada's Rick Fox and the Ukraine's Slava Medvedenko are fringe contributors with the Lakers. Michael Olowokandi, who sports ties to England and Nigeria, is likewise on the periphery for Minnesota. In the East, Turkey's Memhet Okur has been marginalized in Detroit by the arrival of Rasheed Wallace, and we all know how much Darko Milicic has done. And Indiana, representing the country's heartland, has exactly zero foreigners on its 12-man playoff roster.
Well, we've got one now.
How about Rudy Tomjanovich?
Rudy T says he wants to sit out at least one more season after his rough fight against bladder cancer, but you'd struggle to find another coach more universally loved by players than Tomjanovich.
Don't forget, furthermore, that Tomjanovich is one of only five coaches -- Phil, Gregg Popovich, Chuck Daly and Pat Riley are the others -- to win a championship since 1987. That's almost 20 years, people.
O'Neal's averages: 27.3 points and 13.0 rebounds in compiling a 93-57 record with three titles.
Kareem's averages: 27.9 points and 13.0 rebounds in compiling (no joke) a 93-57 record with three titles -- two with the Lakers and one with Milwaukee.
The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh? I think you answered your own (recent) question about why Slap Shot jerseys are being sold ad infinitum as opposed to Fish memorabilia. No one cares about The Fish -- the movie was awful! If even you noticed the bad editing and dialogue, how much awful stuff do you think went into that film that you didn't notice? Slap Shot was a funny, ironic and well-acted hockey movie that had all the great stuff about the game mixed in with the nasty side. The Fish? I don't know anybody except you that even saw the damn thing. One thing I have noticed about reading many columns on ESPN.com: You under-40 guys always allude to films and TV shows that some of us "older" readers never saw, enjoyed or cared about.
North Woodmere, N.Y.
STEIN: You won't find anyone who loves Slap Shot more than me, Irv. I've watched it a zillion times and quote it routinely in normal conversation. But this is the NBA arm of ESPN.com, and if you think Fish doesn't have its own (albeit smaller) cult following among basketball fans -- and, more importantly, among NBA players who will never forget Jamaal Truth, Jackhammer Washington, Set Shot, Driftwood and Bullet Bullet Bullet -- a generation gap isn't our only obstacle.
"No not yet. Sorry."
— Lakers coach Phil Jackson, when asked if he has a clearer sense yet whether winning a championship would make him more or less likely to return to the bench next season.
|Series||Opponent||FGA Per Game|
|'04 Conf. Finals||Wolves||11.4|
|'04 First Round||Rockets||13.2|
|'95 First Round||Celtics||13.5|
|'04 Conf. Semis||Spurs||14.2|