So at the beginning of the season, I was referring to the Boston Celtics as the NBA Champion Boston Celtics, not because I believed they were going to win the championship, but because just about every media outlet had them as the champion before the season had even started. Needless to say, I proved once again why I don’t work at any of those major media outlets as a sports writer, but that being said, I still believe that if the Pistons had been healthy (Rip Hamilton, Chauncey Billups), they would have taken the Celtics. Anyway, I’m not upset that the Celtics won, I’m always happy when the champ comes from the East, I’m just still not completely convinced that they were the best team this year. It doesn’t really matter, because they are the team holding the trophy (which could be the ugliest trophy in sports).
One of the things that I hope will FINALLY be put to bed is all of the Kobe-Jordan comparisons. The Celtics shut Kobe down a lot easier than I thought was possible, to the point where you didn’t even notice when Kobe was on the floor. It didn’t matter who was on him, he got shut down repeatedly. Even when he started to look like he was going to put things together, Doc Rivers made the appropriate switches to shut him back down. The thing about Jordan was that he had a good supporting cast, but when his teammates weren’t pulling their weight, he would simply take things over by himself. When Phil Jackson was interviewed during one halftime, he was asked about Kobe’s performance and he said that they were going to need Kobe to carry them in the second half. We just didn’t see that. Now whether that it completely attributed to the Celtics D is up for debate, but whether it was the D, Kobe just having some bad games or a combination of both, Kobe just didn’t do what he was supposed to do: lead his team. Maybe Shaq was right, Kobe can’t win without him.
As far as coaching goes, we saw Doc go between using his D to fight through pick and rolls and subsequently switch on them, we saw his team get rough with Kobe when they had to and we saw them just simply outmuscle guys (hello? Gasol) inside. Through the sounds of the NBA, we were able to listen to Doc give talks during timeouts that were more inspirational than strategic, while others were completely X’s and O’s. You have to love the fact that when the Celtics were being routed early in games, Doc used his timeouts wisely, not so much to stop the bleeding, but to keep his team’s focus.
So with all of the talk that we always hear from various media outlets about Phil Jackson being a genius, I have to be the soundboard for the collective WTF? How do you blow those kinds of leads in the NBA Finals? THE FINALS! I mean, those blown leads were Raptoresque. Even Sam Mitchell was sitting back in his chair saying, “Wow, that guy should be fired.” Why were the Lakers jacking the ball up so much when they had those big leads? Why were they not using the clock? Why didn’t Phil call some timeouts and ask his team what they were doing shooting early in the clock? Why in God’s name could he not see that Radmanovic was being outplayed on both ends of the court on a consistent basis? I mean, sure, Radmanovic is known as one of those players who can win the game for either team, but in the series, he was only killing the Lakers. His consistent playing time was mind boggling.
On a final note, I have to say that I was hoping that anybody other than Paul Pierce was going to win the MVP. His exit and subsequent return from his life-threatening knee injury was embarrassing. This was on the “drunk uncle singing at the wedding” level. Seeing him carried off and then come back in a few minutes was so brutal, I thought he should have played the rest of the game in a Del Piero jersey (go Spain!). To then see him running up and down the court, hitting threes and jumping up and down on the sidelines made me sick. Somewhere Tim Donaghy was saying, “What has the NBA come to?”
Oh well, now on to the draft season. Raptors should be busy…