Monday, January 14, 2008

Some Basketball Randomness Part 2

After Jordan retired, my entire focus was on the Lakers. The 1998-1999 season was the first season that Kobe showed that he could be a superstar for the years to come. Good players put up good stats. Great players perform like champions in the clutch. One particular game that season that I remember quite clearly was the game between the Lakers and Warriors. Kobe's tip in of the missed free throw was absolutely amazing.

The following season Phil Jackson arrived. The Lakers pretty much ran through the entire season and Kobe solidified his status as a superstar. It was probably also Shaq's best individual season. When the playoffs began the Lakers lit the entire city of Los Angeles on fire with excitement. I was fortunate enough to attend Game 2 of the first round series between the Kings and Lakers. Those were the days when Chris Webber was a monster. Later in the playoffs, the Lakers faced the Portland Trailblazers in the conference finals. That series was one of the best if not the best playoff series I have ever seen. That game 7 will be etched in my memory for the rest of my life. After the end of the third quarter, I was so down with disappointment. But Brian Shaw, Brian Shaw, Brian Shaw!!!!!! He just went crazy during the 4th quarter. "Kobe, to Shaq!!!" After hearing those words coming out of Bob Costas's mouth was aweseom. That Blazers team commited the greatest choke job I've ever seen.

I remember listening to a local radio talk station host hoping against all hope that the Knicks would play the Lakers during the Finals. Unfortunately for him, the Pacers prevailed. Pretty much the entire country did not give the Pacers any chance of defeating the Lakers, with good reason. But like many championship series, teams are faced with roadblocks. When a team has its back against the wall, it must respond like champions. Kobe Bryant proved once and for all that he will be a force to be reckoned with. In spite of an injured ankle, Kobe stepped up and delivered.

The following season the Lakers did not roll through the league during the regular season. But the playoffs were a different story. The Lakers rolled through the playoffs without suffering a defeat. Then came Iverson and the Sixers. IMHO, Allen Iverson in his prime is the most amazing athlete I've ever seen. A guy his size having the skills and ability to score as much as he does is mind boggling.

After defeating the Sixers, the Lakers were well on their way to winning it all for a third straight year. Like the years before, the Lakers just lumbered through the regular season and turned it up during the playoffs. This was the year of the epic Lakers/Kings series. My favorite moment was Robert Horry's shot.

During game 7 of that series the Kings proved that they did not deserve to go to the finals. Their team did not perform in the clutch. Most of the players looked that they were afraid to shoot. Mike Bibby was the only exception. He almost single-handedly carried the Kings to victory. The finals series between the Lakers and Nets was absolutely anti-climactic. After the Lakers won the championship that year I thought that the Lakers would never be dethroned. And that is my NBA viewing history up til the Lakers 3peat.

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