Thursday was hard. In fact, the whole series was hard. No one expected the Boston Celtics to be there but they were. No one expected the Lakers to need game 7 to win a championship but they did. The 2010 NBA Finals were won by a team who wanted it more. Both teams were talented, both had stamina but the Lakers had more fire in the end. With a game 7 score of 93-89 you know it could have gone the other way. Kobe Bryant said this series was the sweetest of the now 5 titles he has with the Lakers because it was against the Celtics and it was the hardest one to get. A well-deserved parade followed on Monday. We'll touch on this and talk about a possible Celtic retirement and I'll give you my top five drama-induced reasons why this is going to be the craziest summer in the NBA. Hold onto your hats.
Back to back without Shaq
I love post season parade celebrations. A chance for fans to connect and celebrate with the team they have pumped their time and money into. The only real complaint from fans concerning the Lake Show parade was for the floats to drive slower so as to catch a longer glimpse of their favourite player. Phil Jackson was not there to enjoy the festivities because according to team spokesman John Black, Phil was at a previously scheduled health check-up. Really? Unless he has some terminal illness we don't know about, blood work and other tests can wait, can't they? I am a little suspicious since doctors' appointments can be rescheduled especially if you are Phil Jackson and your team just won an NBA championship. Speaking for the team, John Black said Phil Jackson's health is the highest priority for them and for Phil and a big reason in deciding if Phil stays or goes. The only thing I can think of that is remotely similar was way back in university when I was Vice President of the student's association and the VP who was replacing me asked me to be a part of the celebrations afterward. He was a good friend (and still is) so I stayed to hear his name announced but left directly after. I wanted to be there for him but since I had made the decision to not to come back the following year, the celebrating part would not have been much fun. This is what my gut is telling me about Phil Jackson. He's made the decision to leave already and may play the health card as a part of his exit strategy.
Speaking of exits, Boston Celtics Head Coach Doc Rivers told some media types about Rasheed Wallace and his probable retirement. According to Coach Rivers, Rasheed told him before game 7 that he believed it would be the last game of his career. If this is all true, he must have made this decision mid-season since he has 2 years left on the contract he signed with the Celtics last summer. Retiring at 35 years old? At least he won an NBA championship with Detroit in 2004. Will he be remembered for the 15, 860 points and 7, 321 rebounds he amassed over a 15 year career in the NBA? Or, will it be the 30 game ejections he's had since 1994 when the stat started being kept - the most any player has had since. We'll just have to wait and see.
The Summer of Crazy Fun in the NBA
The 2010 NBA draft and free-agency signing period will be about 10 days apart. Then the real show begins. The x-factor in how high the drama will climb is Lebron James. If he leaves, we jump on the drama train. If he stays, it may be an anti-climatic summer. Who knows what is waiting for us come July 1st but here are my top 5 drama-induced story lines to make this a crazy fun summer in the NBA.
#1 - Lebron James. He is the one everyone is waiting on. I really think too much weight is being put on this guy. I am kinda getting "Lebroned out". With all these spots he's doing to try and promote himself, not really sure how Cleveland fits into his plans. He's made up his mind already and just isn't telling anybody.
#2 - The City of Cleveland. This is getting ridiculous. As if a few parties and parks named in his honour is really going to sway him either way. It's about the money now since there are other clubs showing him the love. Even in minor league baseball. Get this: the Lake Erie Crushers plan to offer James a maximum contract worth $1, 600 a month, including a host family and a luxury suite. To make the absurd even more absurd, the team is renaming its park 'Lebron James Field' on June 30th at All Pro Freight Stadium for that night. And if your name is Lebron, you get in free. Puleeze.
#3 - Teams with money to spend and how they spend it. The New Jersey Nets have both money to spend on the juiciest free agency class in a long time and a high pick in the draft. They will be the team to do the most signing, spending and trading. Watch them closely. One team I'm a little concerned about is the New York Knicks. They have been trying to get on Lebron's good side for a while and if he doesn't set up shop in New York, they may just do something silly like overpay a third or fourth choice if they don't grab someone in the event Lebron doesn't change addresses.
#4 - The Raptors without Bosh. Raptors fans deserve more. Chris Bosh is a good guy and also deserves more. But how do you fix this problem? Raptors President and General Manager Brian Colangelo needs to pull out all the stops - his legacy is at stake. So is the the faith of Raptors fans in the club he leads.
#5 - Where Chris Bosh ends up. It's either Chicago or Los Angeles. These are the two biggest cities I see Bosh fitting into. Chicago has Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah but it's downfall is Michael Jordan used to play there. Bosh would be pressured to live up to that legacy. If he joined the Lakers he may be second fiddle to Kobe but may be just as happy to be surrounded by talent and support.
Basketball Beyond the Floor
I am loving this feature and so are you just from the feedback I have been getting. Tune in this Thursday when we'll be discussing Soul Influence: Basketball, Corporate Greed and the Corruption of America's Youth. This book will make your head spin and open your eyes. I have a flick pick for you along the same theme as this book. I also welcome suggestions for future reads and flick picks. Thank-you for all your feedback and support so far - it is very much appreciated. Happy reading and see you Thursday.