First of all: HAPPY BIRTHDAY wondahbap!
For your birthday, I will take care of the credits this morning.
It looks like Kenyon Martin might be right.
With the Cavs down 1-3 to the Magic, in order to see a Kobe-Lebron Final, we might have to resort to playing it on NBA Live.
But it's still not too late for a Kobe-Dwight matchup, if the Lakers can win at Staples Center tonight (6 PM Pacific, ESPN).
Win this game, and the Lakers have the luxury of losing Game 6 in Denver (which they almost certainly will, given their history), and then storming back to win Game 7 in Los Angeles.
Lose this game, and the Lakers have the daunting task of beating Denver in Denver one more time, and then winning at home, which would be two wins in a row, and that doesn't sound very likely, does it?
I like option 3: Win this game, and the next one, too ... I can dream can't I?
As for those Nike Puppets commercials - they can still have them, it will just be Lebron sitting at home, depressed, unshaven, watching his roommate on TV displaying his unstoppable unstoppableness. Or it could be both grumpy roommates arguing over what would have happened as the Finals play on the TV in the background. Well, maybe I shouldn't count the Cavs out just yet ... there is a reason they play the games, after all!
Your links await you after the jump.
ESPN - Shannon Brown (UPS) chats with fans
Justin Behling (Boyceville, WI): What is it going to take to win a tough game 5 with the Nuggets?
Shannon Brown: (12:05 PM ET ) We have to execute our game plan on the offensive and defensive end. We have to play more physical. We have to be mentally tough when players are "fouling" us like the trip on Kobe. We just have to come out ready to play OUR game.
Whowins (hat tip Dexter Fishmore) - This is a crazy site that compiles all the outcomes of sports series and tells you what has happened in the past if you match the parameters. Here's what you need to know: for the Lakers situation (Home-Home-Away-Away, Win-Loss-Win-Loss) this is what has happened to past teams in the same situation for Game 5:
Game 5 record, NBA only, all rounds: 22-4 (.846)
Game 5 record, NBA only, Semis round: 4-1 (.800)
Basically, not an overwhelming amount of matching data, but enough to say that the based on historical probabilities, the Lakers have about an 80% chance to win tonight. Take this information with a large pillar of salt.
NY Times - Oscar Robertson chimes in on the Lebron-Kobe debate and has this to say:
“It’s a sad, sad, sad time in the history of sports when everyone wants to say, ‘Who’s the best one?'"
So, sports was always sad?
Reuters - Phil Jackson fined $25,000 for criticizing the refs. I would be in a ton of debt if I were fined every time I criticized the refs.
Washington Times - Game 3 of the Nuggets-Lakers was the most watched Conference Finals game in history.
ESPN - Nice feature about Tim Grover, Formerly Known As MJ's Trainer, now known as Kobe's Trainer, and DWade's Trainer.
... Jordan had just been knocked around again by the elbows, knees, chests, heads and fists of Detroit's "Bad Boys." Jordan understood if he and the Bulls were to go further, his body had to be better prepared for such playoff punishments.
Grover was only 24 then, and Jordan was to be his first professional client, but Grover was sure he had Jordan's answer.
"He said he'd try it out for a month, and it ended up being 15 years," Grover said.
"There are no shortcuts. There's no substitute for hard work. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. You saw that in Game 3 when Kobe hit that 3. That's not luck. He's prepared to take that shot. We've hit him with pads while taking that shot. When the opportunity came on, he took it."
KEYT3 Santa Barbara - What the ...? There's a professional team in Thousand Oaks, CA (that's like sub-suburbia , more than 40 miles from downtown L.A., for those of you who don't know)? And Bryon Russell is playing in it?
CBS Sports, Mike Freeman - The same guy who likes to call Kobe "KoME" has now taken to calling Lebron "LeByner". Why do I link to this moron? As a lesson in how NOT to gain credibility. Well, at least he's consistent. Consistently inane. Well done, Mr. Freeman, you have gained my attention, even though it is in the form of disgust. To my knowledge, this guy and T.J. Simers are the only people who get paid to be trolls. Those other trolls? They ain't nothing. These guys get PAID, while guys like XXXXXXX of Dream Shake and XXXXXXXX of Pickaxe and Roll (you know who you are) do it for free. Suckers.
Inside the Lakers - Trevor Ariza didn't appreciate J.R. Smith's enthusiasm.
``I don't know if i'm supposed to say (this), but it pissed people off,'' Trevor Ariza said. ``They hit some shots late in the game, when the game was over, and they got excited about that ... that's cool.''
LA Times - Kobe had different take on "Smitty's" gesturing.
Bryant wasn't bothered by the antics of Denver guard J.R. Smith, who enthusiastically celebrated several made shots. "He knocks a shot down, he's got the right to do that," Bryant said. "We have enough motivation. If we need that kind of motivation to get us going, then we've got issues. Kudos to him."
OC Register - Kobe on getting the ball to Pau:
Q. What’s keeping you guys from getting the ball inside to Pau as many times as you’d like?
KOBE BRYANT: They’re double teaming him. He’s got to go a little quicker when he catches it. Something I’ve told him: When you’ve got shots, you’ve got to take them.
This late in the post season, guys aren’t going to let you back down and stand and do some of the things he likes to do in the post. He’s gotta go and go quickly.
So part of that is just him making a mental adjustment, if you’ve got a shot, take it.
Denver Post - This guy must hate that his editor writes his headlines, because this one is titled "Greed, Jealousy Creep into L.A.'s Locker Room", but the story is better than the headline, and not really about greed and jealousy creeping into L.A.'s locker room.
"The thing to do is be together as one," Farmar said. "I have to share my minutes with Shannon (Brown, another reserve guard). As an individual, I might not like it, but we bring different things to the team, and if that's what's best for the team, then I have to be committed to that, and when he's in the game, I have to root for him just like he has to root for me when I'm playing."
Philly.com - Kurt Rambis out of the running for the Sixers head coaching job.
Rambis, though, remains in the running for the Sacramento job, but the same source indicated that he would not meet with the Kings until after the NBA's Western Conference finals series against the Denver Nuggets, which continues tonight in Los Angeles. The Kings have also let it be known that they intend to meet with Boston Celtics' associate head coach Tom Thibodeau - another Sixers interviewee - later this week.
LA Times - Joe Biden made a speech and mentions the Lakers and Nuggets. Politicians are so cheesy.
[Denver is] a city that I think will be among the cities that lead this country in this new century; a city that displays a fervor and a passion for environmental awareness that rivals the fervor and passion you all feel for the Lakers. I heard there was a game last night. (Laughter.) Joke, joke, joke. (Laughter.)
I'll tell you what, at two and two, Carmelo called me, asked me for some tips about what to do in L.A. (Laughter.) And I sent him to the President. I played football; he played basketball. But speaking of passion, there's a lot of passion for the Nuggets.
OC Register - Kevin Ding offers insight into Phil and Bynum's relationship. Also, found out Phil doesn't take you seriously as an adult until you're 28 years old.
Jackson no longer treats Bynum as a total juvenile, previously giving him “The Old Man and the Sea” to read and throwing impromptu arithmetic equations at him to solve.
But Bynum’s still-goofy demeanor at age 21 definitely makes it hard for Jackson, who certainly doesn’t see an equal in someone who wants to play on a pull-up bar or with a Playboy bunny.
Two things here: A still-goofy and 23-year-old Dwight Howard, against whom Bynum might very soon be tested on basketball’s biggest stage, is dominating despite also sometimes questioning his coach’s methods.
And even a very serious Kobe Bryant didn’t really connect with Jackson until reaching 28, Jackson’s estimated age for anyone to achieve true maturity.
Fox Sports - Want to know what Pau and Kobe will be doing before playing tonight's game? Watching soccer.
With Wednesday's Champions League final taking place on Wednesday afternoon local time, it's a nice distraction from all the pressure and intensity of NBA playoff basketball.
"I would be the happiest man on earth if Barcelona wins. We want the triple crown," said Gasol.
When asked if he and Gasol would be watching the game together on Wednesday afternoon, Bryant added, "We'll find the time. It shoud be a great game. Can't wait to see who wins."
Fox Sports (Charley Rosen) - Good ol' Uncle Charley breaks down the Magic-Cavs game and stirs the pot on the Lebron-Kobe debate (Added 10:52AM PT):
LeBron is as good as Michael Jordan. LeBron is as good as Kobe Bryant. LeBron has become an extraordinary defender because he blocks breakaway layups from behind. The Cavs are the best team in the NBA. Mike Brown is the best coach in the NBA. Dwight Howard is Superman. Captain Marvel, perhaps, but certainly not the Man of Steel. Dwight Howard is the best defensive player in the NBA. The referees have been advised to rig the games so that Kobe and LeBron will meet in the Finals. In fact, everybody who subscribes to this — and other — conspiracy theories is only doing so because their favorite team turned out to be losers.