Here are today's Lakers Links:
Lakers vs Magic: Position-By-Position Breakdown - Silver Screen and Roll
"To start off our FInals preview here on SS&R, I present to you the match-ups, because as Jalen Rose will say once the producer finally whispers it into his ear, that is what the NBA is all about."
Forum Blue And Gold: Gasol vs. Howard: The Gold Medal Game
"For all the talk about Andrew Bynum on Dwight Howard and how important that is, there will be times in this series when Pau Gasol will have to cover him man-up. The Lakers don’t want to double in the post, and if Gasol is on Howard while Odom and Ariza are on Hedo and Lewis, the Lakers match up well (they can switch pick and rolls that way)." But could Gasol really hang with Howard one-on-one? I went back and looked at the USA/Spain Gold Medal game from the Beijing Olympics, when Gasol and Howard did square off as centers"
(I think Pau will out-class Dwight in this series. I'm not sure how much they'll be matched-up, but as good as Dwight is supposed to be defensively, Pau has success against him because Gasol is more skilled. Although Dwight is strong, he's not the Kendrick Perkins/Chuck Hayes stand there and push you type.)
Forum Blue And Gold " Why the Lakers will Win
The focus of the pre-series review has emphasized that the Magic pose match-up problems for the Lakers. Perhaps. However, I contend that the matchup problems that the Lakers pose for the Magic dwarf the former. Gasol against Lewis, Odom against Lewis, Tukoglu, or Pietrus. Kobe against Lee. I like these match ups. The mis-match advantage, the Lakers’ superior training partners, and the proven ability of Jackson and staff to make the correct adjustments leads me to the conclusion that the championship is for the Lakers’ to lose.
NBA - NBA Finals preview: Lakers in five? - FOX Sports on MSN
"...all of L.A.'s core players are veterans of championship series, and the Denver series appears to have sharpened their focus. Meanwhile, all of Orlando's are strangers in a paradise where newcomers are apt to lose their way. Too many of the Magicians are mistake-prone — Alston, Pietrus and Turkoglu — and Orlando isn't nearly as good a ball club as last season's championship Celtics were. The Lakers should win in 5."
NBA Finals: Los Angeles Lakers versus Orlando Magic true-false questions - ESPN
Our writers make the true-false calls on 10 questions about the Magic and the Lakers.
Magic Mull Possible Return Of Nelson For Finals - CBS News
"Orlando was 2-0 this against the Lakers this season. Nelson was the Orlando's leading scorer in both those games, averaging 27.5 points. He has been lobbying the Magic for a chance at playing since the playoffs began, with each round the team advances the idea _ and the talk _ of him returning growing. But even Nelson admits it will be difficult to convince the training staff and coaches that he isn't risking future damage." "A miracle has to happen," Nelson said.
More after the jump.....
Magic Johnson – 30 Years of Showtime Part I -dEDGE
Here’s an article to help fill the gap between the just concluded Western Conference Finals, and to get the juices flowing again for our impending date with the Orlando Magic. A lot of you may remember the broad-smiled, boyish mannered rookie teaming up with the aloof, grizzled veteran, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in the 1979-80 NBA season. But for those of you who weren’t lucky enough to witness the real Showtime, here’s Part I to a jaunt down memory lane to help evoke the spirits of Lakers past in our bid for the 2008-09 NBA crown.
The Los Angeles Times:
Magic's Dwight Howard: Superman to superstar? - Los Angeles Times
"The way he's played has elevated his playing status, thus giving him more ways to put his personality out, thus giving his advertisers and sponsors more ways to utilize him in the marketplace," said William Sutton, a sports marketing professor with the University of Central Florida's DeVos Sport Business Management Program. "So, his stock is going to go flying."
Trevor Ariza finds right fit with the Lakers
The Lakers are looking for redemption in the NBA Finals. In many ways, so is Trevor Ariza. The Lakers' starting small forward was jettisoned by the Orlando Magic in November 2007, deemed a non-fit for an offense that required shooters, not stoppers, under the system of newly hired Coach Stan Van Gundy. The Lakers saw a hint of potential in Ariza and sent Brian Cook and Maurice Evans to the Magic for Ariza, a trade that surprised several Lakers players who were close to Cook and Evans.
SLAM ONLINE | " It’s got to be…Wrong
"Speaking of Shaq, isn’t this his absolute worst-case Finals? Either Stan Van Gundy and Dwight Howard—arguably the two biggest targets of his attacks this past season—win it all, or Kobe—inarguably the biggest target of his attacks ever—wins a ring without Shaq. I mean, the Diesel’s legacy is plenty secure, but this cannot feel good to him."
It’s The Marquee Matchup We’ve All Been Waiting For :: Elites TV
"LeBron couldn’t keep up his end of the bargain. So what? The Lakers vs Magic presents us with another highly anticipated face off between a shooting guard and a small forward. I speak, of course, of JJ Redick vs Adam Morrison."
(Haha. Imagine a puppet commercial with these two.)
Jeff Van Gundy: Rooting for the Magic -- NBA FanHouse"It's doubtful we'll hear Jeff say anything that's outrageously in favor of the Magic, especially during the early games of the series. If anything, he'll probably go out of his way to praise the Lakers just to avoid any appearances of impropriety. But as the series wears on, and especially if there's anything controversial happening that could cost the Magic a shot at winning this thing, don't be surprised if Jeff takes the side of his brother's squad. I don't have any problem with it at all, but the reality is this: we all have our loyalties."
(Isn't it bad enough we have to listen to him and Mark Jackson in the first place?)
Why the Lakers Will Beat the Magic -- NBA FanHouse
"The Lakers have the best player on the planet, and notice we didn't say 'closer.' "
Why the Magic Will Beat the Lakers -- NBA FanHouse
"[Otis] Smith built this Magic team intending to win an NBA title, a goal that may have seemed well out of reach when this season began but a very attainable goal today. After their rocky trip to reach the Finals, the Magic don't feel like underdogs anymore. They are going into Game 1 Thursday confident they can win."
Kobe's Opportunity to Recast Legacy -- FanHouse
"Kobe has a chance to go from being undeniably great to being arguably -- drum roll, please -- The Greatest.
Kobe is daring to win an NBA championship without another bona fide superstar at his side, pretty much carrying an entire starting five, roster and franchise on his own."
(As much as I like the thought, this is the typical over the top way the Bobbleheads are. Kevin Blackistone is a resident of Casa Bobblehead, along with Woody, J.A., Bob Ryan, Tim Colishaw, Mariotti, Skip, Plaschke, etc...)
What the Lakers Stand to Gain -- NBA FanHouse
"The Larry O'Brien itself is plenty of motivation for the participants in the 2009 Finals. But there will also be a few individual goals driving those involved."
Joey from Straight Bangin' guest lectures on FreeDarko, slamming Mike Breen:
"And then consider this: the most Mike Breen could ever say about Kobe and LeBron is that each is a "terrific player" who has "helped lift his team" and provided "so many of the things you want to see in a franchise player." Those aren't direct quotes, but they might as well be--conservative, judgmental, preachy, sufficient, and bland. That is Mike Breen, an unimaginative man who peers out at the basketball world through a colorless lens that precludes the sort of expansive, emotional, romantic vision that best and properly captures the NBA."
But the real jewel is this:
"Consider this: the Most Valuable Puppets ads have been striking because they have deftly given voice to certain truths without actually articulating them. We've enjoyed seeing the ebullient LeBron living with the removed Kobe--chalk all everywhere, rings in a display case--because the contrast efficiently, knowingly tells the story which has captivated NBA fans for a while: Kobe is the focused, relentless introvert whose professionalism extracts teammate adherence and whose refined style poses the only true challenge to Michael's legacy; LeBron is the effulgent, gregarious extrovert whose joy infects teammates and whose physical superiority challenges the conventional theories of possibility. Seeing the two as roommates acknowledges their friendship (to whatever extent it is genuine), while seeing the juvenile back-and-forth acknowledges the hefty tension which lies beneath the marketing veneer of collegial competition. The ads have animated our fascination by imagining these complicated relationship dynamics in the prosaic world of domestic partnership. Almost fan fiction, Nike has created a new chapter in the parallel narrative that helps to tell the true tale of the NBA. That the ads are so stylish only enhances their impact, because in no other league does style matter as much."
(I don't think Mike Breen is as bad as Joey thinks, but then again, it could be because Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson have been SO bad it's hard to notice. I agree with "W2" in the comments. We want Hubie!)
More on LeBron:
NBA.com: LeBron needs to take a lesson from another Cleveland icon
"No one likes to lose, especially someone as competitive as you, who's as used to winning, and winning big as you. You have won more in your short life than most people do in their entire lives. But that doesn't give you the right to be a poor loser, on the rare occasions that you lose."
Sports of The Times - A Handshake Is Hardly Too Much to Ask, Even From LeBron James - NYTimes.com
"...the hype. Perhaps more than disappointment, this explains James’s uncharacteristic show of unsportsmanlike behavior. A part of him began to believe he really was king, and who can blame him? ...Dwight Howard hates to lose; so does Kobe Bryant. You win and accept the praise, you lose and accept defeat....You can’t have it both ways. Even when you’re king"
LeBron James Profile - LeBron James on Branding - Esquire
"But he's not an asshole. It's rawer, purer, and a lot less believable than that. He says, "It's just having this instinct. I see the plays over and over in my head. Even when I'm dreaming, I dream about basketball. So when I'm playing, I see the play before it ever even happens. I dream about it, and then I make it a reality."
LeBron is the ultimate front runner. Did you see this interview "explaining" why he didn't shake hands?
Now remember, LeBron is the kid who was a Bulls fan, a Cowboys fan, and a Yankees fan. All the dominant teams in his adolescence. Not surprising that he talks like that. Front runners usually do. Like I said yesterday, LeBron had to be the kid who would take his ball home (the only ball there) if things weren't going his way at the park.
Listen to him at the 1:40 mark. "I guess I spoil you guys..." Who does he think he is?
"Wow. Sounds like somebody's suffering from a case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Dissing your victorious opponents and then claiming that's what winners do...well, if that's not narcissistic, I don't know what is. Seriously, even the schmos at eHow.com know how to be a good loser. Why doesn't the league's Most Valuable Player"-Basketbawful
LeBron's favorite De la Soul song would be "Ego Trippin' ". Or maybe, it's "Me, Myself and I," since he seems to think it all about him the way he talk about himself in the third person. On second thought, being the front runner he is, he probably has no clue who De La Soul is.
Seriously, he says he's "a winner...a competitor, and that's what I do." Hmmm. It sure looks like you lost one. Handle it.
Oh, and he has enough sense to keep the "Is he staying? Is he going?" conversation keep going by doing the interview in a Yankees hat. Do you think I'm reaching? Nothing at his level is done without some thought into what it "looks" like.
Here's the "Lil Dez" Kobe/LeBron commercial remixed:
Funny. My rant's all in fun, so don't take it so seriously. We have a Finals to worry about, and the LeBron book is now closed.
OC Register's NBA Finals: Top Storylines (w/ Jim Miller and Bryan Roy)
NBA TV's Steve Smith: