Thursday, May 12, 2011
Behind The Scoreboard
Can you even imagine what head coach Phil Jackson was feeling when he uttered the condemning words during an interview after his third consecutive loss against the Dallas Mavericks? Jackson blasted the officials regulating the game and it was disclosed on Sunday that the coach had been fined $35,000 dollars for his unsolicited comments.
You can perhaps understand the need to empathize with Jackson because he was in unfamiliar territory. He has been in 13 of these playoff wars and has been unbeatable in 11 of them. Was Jackson so pensive because he was seeing his chance for a 12th title being swept away by an unlikely foe in the Dallas Mavericks? I can admit that I didn’t see this coming. Not taking anything away from the Mavs. but I just didn’t see them up to the challenge of beating the Lakers in a playoff series. And a sweep? Which is why I watched the entire game. Still, I was not prepared for the vicious hit put on a Maverick (J.J. Barea) in the fourth quarter in the most unsportsmanlike manner possible. Of course, the perpetrator (Lamar Odum) was immediately ejected, but the embarrassment was evident on the faces of the entire Lakers franchise.
Speculation had already begun that Coach Jackson would hang up his coaching mantle after this series was finished. There was another sign of (and I hate to use the word) malcontent which was entirely uncharacteristic of a coach who had amassed more titles than the legendary Red Auerbach (10). The act was Jackson thumping a player in the chest during one of those games.
Late Sunday night coach Phil Jackson confirmed that he had indeed coached his last game. This will not be turned into a praise fest for the Dallas Mavericks (there will probably be opportunity for that later), but they matched two playoff records, the most three pointers by an individual, nine (Jason Terry) and the most by a team (23). The 36-point loss to Dallas was the worst in playoff history for the L.A. Lakers and has perhaps indeed signified the end of an era.
The Chicago Bulls were regaining some of their recognition from yesteryear when their superstar MVP, Derrick Rose, turned in a 44-point performance in game three on the home court of the Atlanta Hawks. Although the Hawks evened the series at two apiece on Sunday, the focus was still on the Bulls and their star Rose. Most memorable was the moving tribute to his (Rose’s) mother who was tearfully emotional. The Bulls are still favored to win the series and move on to the Conference finals.
The Celtics were still having problems keeping the fan base happy although they gained a win with the Heat on Saturday which prompted King James to issue the edict that it was totally his fault and it would not happen again. The Boston Celtics were approaching the dreaded 3-0 threshold which no team has (98 have tried) recovered from in the NBA (ask the Lakers). They beat the Heat by a 16-point margin.
And the whole world is amazed by the Memphis Grizzlies. Now the talk on the street has evolved from “surprising” to “what if.” Zeebo continues to lead the way, gaining more popularity with his 21-rebound performance which included a like amount of points to win in overtime. The sentiment is if the Grizzlies win Monday’s contest they are in the finals. The team has been containing the NBA’s scoring leader, Kevin Durant.
What if the Grizzlies take out the Oklahoma Thunder? How would they fare against a team which just swept the repeat champion?
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