Lakers vs. Celtics
Steve Springer of the Los Angeles Times: "The primary targets are always the same: Kobe Bryant first, then Coach Phil Jackson, and on to Lamar Odom or Derek Fisher or Pau Gasol. But not Sunday. The days ahead will offer plenty of opportunities to dwell on the 2008 NBA Finals, the renewal of Lakers-Celtics after 21 seasons. Sunday was a day for nostalgia. Sunday was a day for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a day to dwell on classic Lakers-Celtics. So the Hall of Fame center proved to be the first magnet for the media army."
Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald: "You didn't think Red Auerbach was going away, did you? Though the legendary coach/general manager/president of the Celtics is no longer with us, Red is absolutely going to be a presence, and an ongoing storyline, throughout this dream matchup against the Lakers. Auerbach, architect of every one of those 16 championship banners hanging from the Garden rafters, was head coach of the Celtics for nine of them. Phil Jackson, current head coach of the Lakers, also has won nine NBA championships -- six with the Chicago Bulls, three with the Lakers. In other words, a victory by the Lakers in this NBA Finals means Jackson moves past Red as the NBA coach with the most championships. Hence, the chant. Win one for Red!"
Marc J. Spears of The Boston Globe: "P.J. Brown is making his first NBA Finals appearance in his 15th season. Kevin Garnett is making his first in his 13th season, while fellow All-Stars Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are making it at seasons 12 and 10, respectively. And with his teammates in mind, Celtics forward Glen Davis is making sure he is very appreciative of making the Finals in his rookie season. 'You've got Ray 12 years, P.J. 15. This is my first year in the league,' said Davis. 'To get a chance to win a championship as a rookie, they bring it up to my attention all the time that this chance I have is once in a lifetime sometimes. So you've basically got to understand the situation that you're in, and basically be ready when it's your time.'"
Jan Hubbard of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "Kobe Bryant is a wonderful player. I am extraordinarily excited about watching him lead the Lakers against the Celtics in the NBA Finals that begin Thursday. I fully expect a classic performance, and I firmly believe he will lead the Lakers to a championship in six games with the final game on the Celtics' home court. But he's not Michael Jordan, and he knows it."
Robbie Andreu of the Gainesville Sun: "What seemed like a good rule and a nice compromise at the time now simply looks like a bad idea two years later. At least that's the way many college basketball coaches are viewing the landmark NBA rule that put an age limit on entering its draft. ... 'It's not working for us on the college campuses,' Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said. 'The whole one-year thing is a window dressing to make it look good perceptionwise,' Florida's Billy Donovan said. 'No question, I (favor the old rule).'"
Jerry Crowe of the Los Angeles Times: "Even while he was still playing in the NBA, Wayman Tisdale says, he plotted a second career. He brought his bass with him to training camp and on trips, he says, and sat in at nightclubs whenever and wherever he had a chance. As his NBA career wound down, he says, 'I'd finish the season and two weeks later I'd be on a music tour. That didn't sit well with owners and coaches, but I was a vet by then and if they didn't think I had it by then, they weren't ever going to think I had it. I was looking out for me and what I had to do to prepare.' It was time well spent. He's at a point now where even cancer barely slows him. Says Tisdale, 'I feel like I've never worked a day in my life.'"
Patrick McManamon of The Akron Beacon-Journal: "I know it's hard to think the Cavaliers could replace what Wally Szczerbiak gave them in Game 7 in Boston, but they do need to get better, and Szczerbiak is one key piece of any possible trade puzzle. There's a lot of talk about acquiring Michael Redd from the Milwaukee Bucks, and it might be realistic. The Bucks have a new GM and a new coach, and there seems to be a strong feeling from Milwaukee that Redd will be traded. A rebuilding team does not want $50 million in future contracts gumming up the works."
Mike McGraw of the Arlington Heights Daily Herald: "Doug Collins should be a known commodity. He coached the Bulls for three seasons, continued to live in Chicago for several years and has been on the air weekly sharing his basketball knowledge as a TNT game analyst. Still, it's difficult to tell exactly what the Bulls would be getting into if they bring back Collins. Some might reach back to 1989 searching for the answer, but Collins has obviously changed during the past 19 years. Now 56, Collins isn't likely to sprint across the court to celebrate a game-winning basket."
Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News: "No one drafted since is on the roster except for Ian Mahinmi, who played a total of 22 minutes this season. Now Buford's international strategy is showing holes, and the Spurs face a telling time. Buford faces a telling time. It's not all up to him. Gregg Popovich and his assistants influence the roster as much as any coaching staff does. It's also not an end-of-the-world scenario. The Spurs will be competitive next season no matter. Tim Duncan and the two draft miracles, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, will be similar to what they were this past season. But the league is changing. The return of Yao Ming, Elton Brand, Greg Oden and Andrew Bynum will cement that for their teams. New Orleans will likely take another step. And Dallas and Phoenix, even with issues, aren't going away."
Rob Parker of The Detroit News: "When you don't win, changes come. It's pretty simple in professional sports these days. Pistons president Joe Dumars -- just as
competitive in his general manager position as he was as a player -- wasn't available for comment Sunday. But you can be sure that he'll be putting a plan together to turn his team around and get them back to championship caliber."
Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press: "Things run their course. The fans are weary of The Rasheed Show, the media are weary of it, too, but most significantly, Wallace, who will be 34 next season, has one year left on his contract, which makes this the perfect time to trade him and the worst time to keep him, if you don't want him around long-term. I suspect Dumars will have a heart-to-heart with Wallace and gauge whether he is committed to winning basketball for three or four more years. Perhaps deep down, Rasheed knows his time in Detroit has passed like a sunset. I think it has. He's a smart guy. He deserves to be thanked. But you thank guys when you let them go, too."
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News: "Don Nelson didn't drag it out. He didn't ask for more money, that I know of. I do believe that he asked the Warriors to officially designate Keith Smart his future successor, but the Warriors' front office wasn't going to do that and Don knew it. So, a few weeks after hinting to me that he'd made up his mind but saying he had to tell the team first, Don told Lowell that he made up his mind to come back a few weeks ago. Really, I think Don's mind was made up in the final weeks of last season when he was getting some criticism -- by me! -- and he decided he didn't want to end his career on a down note."
Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: "The Lynx are off to a great start, at 4-0 the lone undefeated team in the WNBA. Though several other NBA owners have given up on their WNBA investments, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor continues to support his, saying: 'It's a league that we're supporting ... and it's something that I believe in. I think it's right for Minnesota but it's not necessarily a big financial success. So, I'm doing it because I think it gives great inspiration to the young women and the fans in Minnesota to see these women play.'"
Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Meet Kansas State power forward Michael Beasley, a unique combination of scoring, rebounding, quickness, athleticism and, well, talent for trouble. Think of it as the best of Derrick Coleman mixed with the worst of Bart Simpson. 'I'm still a kid,' he says. 'I'm learning day by day.' From a basketball standpoint, that's frightening, considering he averaged 26.2 points and a nation-high 12.4 rebounds this past season, as a freshman. From a personal standpoint, that's comforting, considering the pandemonium he has left in his wake."
Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal: "Joey Dorsey is intent on improving beyond the Bo Outlaw/Ben Wallace comparisons. He actually wants to be more like 'best friend' Rudy Gay, who also hails from Baltimore and is an emerging star with the Grizzlies. Just emerging from a rough environment to become successful in basketball would put Dorsey in the same class as Gay, who convinced Dorsey to share his agent, Lance Young. Coming out of Douglass High, not many expected Dorsey to keep playing. People refer to his neighborhood as 'Iraq,' with cameras on many street corners, trying to capture drug-related activity. Dorsey was expected to be the first guy from Douglass to be kicked off a college team. 'I've proven them wrong,' Dorsey said."