Thursday, July 7, 2005

Behind The Scoreboard
By Claude Vinson

Summing up last week’s NBA draft

Now that the trophies have been passed out and the rings are being struck, in the NBA it all boils down to personnel.

The work stoppage which had been swinging over the league like the sword of Damocles has been averted and, for now, the hierarchy and the employees reached a tacit agreement. It probably is not one that will endure the test of time because the new personnel is bound to become disgruntled as they season.

Sometimes franchises start at the top when they are looking at personnel.

The Lakers did just that when a deal was struck to return Phil Jackson to his rightful place, the helm of the Los Angeles franchise. I can use the “rightful place” phrase without hesitation because it is my contention that he shouldn’t have left in the first place. And Coach Phil has taken the high road upon his return.

His obvious friction with Kobe Bryant has been mellowed to one of veiled praise and acceptance. You have to believe that Bryant saw some dark at the end of the tunnel and realized, regardless of the height of his super star status, to escape the NBA cellar, you need shoulders to stand on.

As a matter of fact, Jackson stated that his order of the day would be to get some help for the Lakers’ franchise player.

Don’t know how much Phil had to do with the Lakers’ first pick in the draft which was completed on Tuesday of last week, but they took a high schooler at the 10th position. Granted, Andrew Bynum was a highly touted player at St. Joseph H.S. in New Jersey but the Lakers need immediate help.

They had two more picks in the second round, 37th and 39th. They picked Ronny Turaf from Gonzaga in the former and Von Wafer of Florida State in the latter. Sorry, I have no stats on either of these gentlemen.

Apparently, the Lakers were not the only team picking young, as the Trailblazers grabbed a prep star also. These two were part of the five chosen overall.

Monta Ellis, and the name just might sound familiar, was dismayed because he was selected by the Golden State Warriors in the second round (#40).

O.K. Mr. Ellis, you are a high school kid, drafted into the NBA. Get it?

Of course this class of prep draftees end the trend. The deal hammered out a few weeks ago means that no more players can be drafted right out of high school (one year removed), and they have to be at least 19 years old.

The “baby player trend” was stopped but the draft still had a huge international flavor. Thirteen players were picked from Spain to Serbia and Montenegro. And with names like Marrtynas Andriuskevicius (Lithuania, traded to Cleveland by Orlando because no one in the office could pronounce the name! just kidding), sportscasters are probably going to have to become proficient in a second language.

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