Final Observations of the 2010 NBA Finals
* The Celtics will complain for the rest of eternity that Kendrick Perkins didn’t play in game seven. Newsflash! Perkins wouldn’t prevent 23 offensive rebounds. He’s not Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlain. Hell, he’s not even Dennis Rodman.
And remember, Rasheed Wallace gave the C’s much-needed offense. With Perkins it’s like playing four on five. Try getting the ball in the hoop like that. Boston gave the ball to Wallace in the post consistently. Wallace, the man with the most ejections in NBA history, scored the Celtics’ first bucket. All night he kicked the ball out of the post and ended up with 11 points.
Perkins can’t come close to doing that on offense. Wallace can at least come close to doing Perkins’ dirty work on defense.
* Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he thinks Wallace has played his last game. Before game seven Wallace told Rivers that he planned on retiring. Several sources have confirmed that statement.
If this is true, the career of the enigmatic and energetic Wallace will be a serious loss for the league. Supremely talented and short tempered, Wallace won a title with the Detroit Pistons in 2004. His erratic antics didn’t earn him favors from the referees, who had no trouble whistling him for technicals.
For years he was one of the league leaders in this category, getting nailed for more than 306 technical fouls during his career.
Wallace had the ability to be one of the most talented players in the league. His dangerous post-up game and shooting range stretched the floor, causing numerous match-up problems, even with big men.
Good luck, Rasheed. You were an interesting character.
* Viewers tuned in to the NBA finals. The largest sporting event is the Super Bowl, but that’s one day. ABC and the NBA got their money’s worth.
A seven-game series in the NBA finals is rare and with a throwback series between the Lakers and Celtics you knew there would be butts in front of TVs.
An estimated 28.2 million people watched game seven which pales in comparison to Super Bowl XLIV’s gargantuan audience: more than 106 million, the most watched event in U.S. television history, surpassing even the “M-A-S-H” series finale in 1983.
While the ratings combined don’t quite measure up to the Super Bowl, it was a ratings victory for the NBA. This year’s championship clincher was the highest watched game since Michael Jordan won his last championship in 1998.
Two weeks worth of viewers coupled with hefty advertising means big bucks. The ratings can never match the might of one Super Bowl, but seven games can at least sniff the ratings title of the king of sports.
* Had the Lakers not won a championship the blame would have been on Ron Artest.
The only major change to this year’s roster, Artest, in place of the lanky Trevor Ariza, looked like a bust until the playoffs started.
Artest’s shooting was erratic, clanging open shots all season long and through the first two rounds of the playoffs. But his defense was stout during all of this. And he found his shooting touch against Phoenix.
In game seven against the Celtics, Artest carried the Lakers through three quarters. At one point he was the game’s leading scorer. Late in the fourth quarter he hit a three-point shot that gave the Lakers a cushion to hold off Boston.
Artest played with exceptional high school players in his younger days. Now he has joined Lamar Odom as the only player to win an NBA title from those years. He had played with Elton Brand, Brendan Haywood, Erick Barkley and Speedy Claxton.
Now he’s a champion instead of the goat many people thought he was the entire season.
* What team did WNBA star Candace Parker root for in the NBA finals? The Los Angeles Sparks NBA counterpart, the Lakers, or the Celtics, the team her husband, Sheldon Williams, plays for? The team that plays in her home arena or the breadwinner in the family?
Wait, is he the breadwinner? Actually, he is. Despite being a scrub in the NBA, Williams’ paycheck is much fatter than the female superstar. Parker, one of the most popular players in the WNBA makes $44,000 while Williams, an NBA journeyman, earns more than $800,000.
Conventional wisdom says she was pulling for hubs. But the Lakers winning must help the Sparks, right? Maybe? Who knows? It can’t hurt.
With low pay such as that how does the WNBA keep operating? The financial backing of the big brother NBA, that’s how.
* Kobe Bryant was asked what does winning a fifth championship mean?
“I got one more than Shaq,” Bryant said. “You can take that to the bank.”
Obviously, Kobe hasn’t gotten over the Shaquille O’Neal feud. Bryant and his teammate, Derek Fisher, have the most championships among active players.
At this point in their careers it is unlikely Shaq can catch Kobe. The Black Mamba is still playing at a high level and Pau Gasol is there to help with the heavy lifting.
Kobe’s earned the right to talk trash.
After all, it was Shaq who started the juvenile hijinks in 2008 after the Lakers got housed by the Celtics.
Boston made Los Angeles look silly, especially Bryant who looked, well, human, against the Celtics’ stingy defense.
After the NBA finals that year, Shaq ripped into Bryant, grabbing a microphone at a party and taunting his former running mate. “Kobe, tell me how my ass tastes,” Shaq dissed over and over.
After Kobe’s most recent jab, Shaq took it like a champ, updating his Twitter with this response: “Congratulations Kobe, u deserve it. U played great. Enjoy it man enjoy it. I know what ur sayin ‘Shaq how my ass taste.’”
The former Shaqtus, Man of Steel and three-time NBA finals MVP is taking it in stride. Good for him.
* The end of the veteran, gritty Celtics could be near. Rivers has announced he will be back, but the Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce will only slow with age. Allen is a free agent and Pierce has opted out of his contract
General Manager Danny Ainge may gut the team that has been to the championship round two out of the last three years.
Boston’s run to the finals this year was improbable. As talented as Rajon Rondo is, another run seems almost impossible.
The Celtics craze will die down, but their resurrection literally came out of nowhere. Before KG and Jesus Shuttlesworth came on board they stunk. Certified losers.
Ainge pulled a rabbit out of his hat and with the right role players they went from being in the lottery to winning a championship.
Any GM would take that.
* Poor, poor Los Angeles Lakers. After having the highest payroll in the league the higher-ups are complaining that they are spending too much.
So instead of signing players, taking care of coach Phil Jackson and just basically ensuring that they are on track to win another title they are tightening belts.
Perhaps Odom will be moved. They might downgrade in the backcourt. A new coach could be on the sidelines (some of that has to do with health).
It doesn’t look good, Lakers fans.
After all, what an awful scenario for a franchise to have: they just won back-to-back titles and the dire money situation is that the Lakers only made $15 million to $20 million.
That’s right, during a recession this kind of cash was made. Every team in the NBA would love to win a championship while “only” netting $15 million to $20 million. Grow up, Lakers management.
Gordon Gekko in “Wall Street” said greed is good, but this is ridiculous.