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A supporting cast is meaningless if it does not support

"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, The Sports Network

LA Lakers Fans
This is not the time to stop knitting the flag that will proclaim the fourth championship in five years for the Lakers.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -- That?s what happened at the first game of the NBA Championship Series between the Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Lakers at The Staples Center in downtown L.A. this past Sunday. Most of the Lakers did not show up for the game. The temperature around the bench dropped faster than depicted in "The Day After Tomorrow." Inquiries were being made concerning hanging meat there instead of at the local markets.

That has led to what America?s self-anointed aficionados of sports, the pundits whose analysis and insights drown us in print (like this one), on TV and the talk shows in most major cities, love to see. We are, after all, a country that delights in rooting for underdogs and pushing everyone that has achieved status off their pedestals. It is, simply, the nature of things.

Corteges are forming in cities like Philadelphia and New York where the word "winner" is whispered in hallways and at local pubs (the Yankees being the sole exception). Their jealousies and envy are running through the streets with more zest and zeal than the bulls of Pamplona.

The play by play commentators and those doing the alleged "color," on both the tube and radio, are delighting in deriding the star-studded audience and general attitude associated with the soon-to-be champions again (yes, you read that correctly) versus the inferred, and sometimes professed, workman like attitude of the blue collar team from Motown. What is forgotten in the diatribe is that Larry Brown?s charges this time around (one wonders when he will move again) are making just as much money as most of the team living in L.A. and are driving Bentleys and SUV?s just as large. Also, there is Grosse Point, Palmer Woods, Goodison Place, Farmington Hills, Royal Oak and a few other neighborhoods to match the splendor and expense of Beverly Hills. Maybe Motown can dot the audience with Rock, Rap and Hip Hop stars when the series turns to The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Phil Jackson
Phil Jackson has found that his Zen philosophy does not work all the time.
It is a long way from listening to the fat lady sing. And, this is not the time to stop knitting the flag that will proclaim the fourth championship in five years for the Lakers.

What is at stake besides pride and the money that is just a measure of who will have the most toys when it is all over? First on the agenda is whether anyone will be contacting United or Mayflower to get a moving estimate. Phil Jackson has found that his Zen philosophy does not work all the time. Sitting around in placid silence for most of the game, when the bad guys are knocking down the doors to the city, without having to hide in an oversized wooden horse is not the answer. How much does he care about asking for $10 million in compensation next year? Be serious. He is the long time companion of Jerry Buss? daughter. Hello!!!!

While those who resent the Lakers want to see them break up into little pieces next season it simply does not make any sense and winning will determine that they stay together?to go after yet another title. Kobe Bryant in New York? Why? Shaquille O?Neal retiring? To do what, make movies? Both would be better off forming their own group to approach David Stern and tell him that if he keeps endorsing and condoning the style of play that one would expect from Vince McMahon then they will all leave. Someone has to get the League?s attention and turn this game from the travesty and wrestling match that it has become back to one of skill and dexterity where talent means as much as strength and physical confrontations in front of referees who are blind to the battles.

Larry Brown a genius? Proclaimed as such by the media but nothing to show for it other than a national collegiate title at Kansas.

You don?t tug on Superman?s cape, you don?t spit in the wind, you don?t pull the mask off the ol? Lone Ranger and you don?t mess around with Kobe, Shaq and their teammates.

Why will the Lakers win in six? Because Gary Payton will stop reading press clippings of yesteryear, tune out the constant refrain that he is a future Hall of Famer and get down to business. Karl Malone must be made to understand that Rasheed Wallace can shoot from the outside, draining occasional threes and be fairly consistent with a jump shot. But, he will not go inside and, if he does, Malone can muscle him like no one else has. Devean George has to be taught the limitations of his skills, as does Stanislav Medvedenko and both have to be told that the zebras will not be their friends if they breathe wrong on someone with star status. That is the way NBA instructs their arbiters to govern. Kareem Rush, like a volcano, exploded in one game before this Series. Defense right now, with an occasional basket and lots of passing to those who score consistently is not a bad role to play. Derek Fisher will break out. That is a given. Luke Walton and Rick Fox have to be used more.

Sports Commentators
The play by play commentators and those doing the alleged "color," on both the tube and radio, are delighting in deriding the star-studded audience and general attitude associated with the soon-to-be champions.
Phil, are you listening?

Ben Wallace can shoot from the perimeter as long and as often as he wants to. Shaq should encourage every shot and just position himself in the paint challenging anyone that wants to drive into that guarded and hallowed area. Ditto Elden Campbell, Mehmet Okur and Corliss Williamson. Play Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince and Richard Hamilton as tough as possible.

End of story.

All I heard from the announcers is how far ahead the Pistons would have been if they had not turned the ball over so often. Really? And, what if the supporting cast of the purple and gold had come to the game and suited up with Kobe and Shaq? Hmmmmm.

Brown will not resort to the pitiful coaching methodology of the Hack-A-Shaq group, as a matter of respect, professionalism and certainly not when the big fellow is making 8 of 12. Give him, Brown, credit for trying to maintain some dignity in a game where Kobe is likely to be accused of date rape if Prince continues the belly to belly and chest to chest contact in evidence so far. O?Neal is paying a penalty for his size instead of being admired for what he can do. Allowances and permissiveness with everyone guarding him holding, pushing, shoving, hanging on and doing whatever they can until they hear a whistle blow, which hardly ever happens, is a disgrace. The price talent has to pay doesn?t always pay. That, alone - and nothing else - can push O?Neal from the game. But, that is for another day.

Los Angeles will win Game Two, lose one in Detroit and come home to L.A. with a 3-2 edge where they will be crowned champions once again in six games. Might they win one in the Motor City and have to come home to win two for the title? Maybe. But those who planned to be attendants at the procession of their detractors have another year to wait and hope.

Champions are champions because they rise to the occasion and have a locker room with mirrors that do more than reflect their hair style or latest threads. They cast back who you are, your mettle and desire, conviction and confidence, a realization of what is at stake and what you intend to prove.

Do I like the Lakers to have a parade again this year? You gotta be kidding!