Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Hangover

It’s been (almost) a week since I’ve watched the Lakers win their fifteenth championship, and their fourth in the Phil Jackson / Kobe Bryant era. This means that L.A. along with San Antonio now has won eight of the last eleven championships. Only Detroit, Miami and Boston had something to say during this period. And it’s not ludicrous to think that it would be any other way in 2010 if other contenders don’t improve (Cleveland, Orlando) or get healthy (Boston).
Why haven’t I written something on “the day after”, on Monday? They had the championship parade on Wednesday, and I still hadn’t made a post on this blog. The reason is simple: like every June after the season has finished, I’m dealing with an NBA hangover. Almost eight months of checking box scores on a daily basis, watching games, reading SLAMonline, Hoopshype, refreshing pages I don’t know how many times a day, it’s all over. Sure, I still check those websites, but no more game recaps, no more checking stats, no more getting up in the middle in the night to watch a live game on TV, none of that.
At this time of year I realize how big of an influence the NBA is on my life. For instance: I would never plan a vacation during the Playoffs or Finals. Even when I’m away during the regular season, I still feel the urge to check some NBA news or scores whenever I have the opportunity. Sad? For others, maybe. I just call it a passion.

If I think back to the NBA Playoffs 2009, I think of these moments:

-Boston vs. Chicago: The best series of this year’s Playoffs. I almost ordered a Ben Gordon jersey but I realized just in time that he might be playing for another team next season. I hope Chicago’s nucleus can stay in tact, what a joy to watch, what a masterful trade in acquiring Brad Miller and John Salmons, Derrick Rose as a young star, Kirk Hinrich playing great coming off the bench, I really enjoyed it. On the other side you had Ray Allen’s amazing51 points, Glen Davis showing off that he can score, Kendrick Perkins playing tough D, and Rajon Rondo almost averaging a triple-double; this was one for the ages.

-Cleveland’s first two rounds: They just demolished Detroit and Atlanta, it was almost embarrassing.

-The Denver Nuggets: Such a fun team to watch. Shooting 3’s all over the place, athletic players blocking, dunking, running all over the place, playing with a sense of urgency behind leader Chauncey Billups all the way to the Western Conference Finals.

-Inside the NBA: How nice it was to watch Ernie, Kenny and Chuck almost daily on Still one of my favorite shows, and again, I wish that TNT had the NBA Finals, but that won’t happen anytime soon.

-Los Angeles vs. Houston: One might wonder what would’ve happened if Yao was able to play after Game 4. Houston plays great D, they didn’t miss T-Mac at all, but to go all the way without Yao might be a bit too much. Sure, they made it to a Game 7, which is an amazing feat by itself. But they just came up short in the final game. Although “short” and missing Yao might be a weird combo. To be honest, even with Yao, I think the Lakers would’ve beaten them.

-Cleveland vs. Orlando: Cleveland steamrolled all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, but their shortcomings were exposed by Orlando, which denied LeBron a second trip to the NBA Finals. I wonder what the Cavs will do this summer to strengthen their team. Will Sideshow Andy be back? Will they bring in a bigger guard? LeBron needs help.

-The two huge 3’s by Derek Fisher in Game 4: The only player who was there along with Kobe and Phil to win the first three championships, now steps up in a huge way to make a trey late in the fourth quarter, and again in OT. Now Fisher must remain a Laker ‘til the end of his playing days. And after that make him as assistant coach to start a new career with the organization.

-Seeing Kobe getting his fourth: People hate him, people love him, and it all doesn’t matter. He’s the last one standing. He’s been playing basketball non-stop for two years and still coming up huge in the Finals.

-Pau Gasol: Pau has won a lot on an international level, but in the NBA couldn’t shed the tag of being soft. He had a great Playoffs and Finals, and now he can add an NBA Championship to his résumé.

-Phil Jackson: Winning that 10th Larry O’Brien Trophy.

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