The NBA Finals Left Me Feeling Empty

The Los Angeles Lakers are NBA champions.

Kobe Bryant finally won his championship without Shaq. The Orlando Magic put up a valiant struggle, but in the end, could muster only a single win; the first NBA Finals victory in their franchise's history.

Kobe was MVP, Phil Jackson won his record 10th NBA championship, and we were entertained by those puppet commercials constantly kicking LeBron James in the groin for a week and a half.

And yet the Finals left me feeling ... empty. Unfulfilled.

At first, I just assumed it was because the Lakers won. I can't stand the Lakers, and I completely and utterly loathe Kobe Bryant. To add insult to injury, Phil Jackson star-bleeped his way past Red Auerbach into the records books as the most decorated head coach in NBA history.

You can understand why that would leave me feeling a little empty inside.

But that wasn't the reason. The Lakers were actually one of three teams who should have won the championship this year. The Lakers did exactly what they were supposed to do. They're deserving champions. Congratulations to them.

My issue is with the way the Eastern Conference shook out.

The Orlando Magic made bad basketball an art form and three-point shot their way into the NBA Finals. They featured a bunch of talented players who did nothing but settle for bad three-pointers and a "dominating" center without a single offensive move in his repertoire.

They had no business in the NBA Finals. None. They went on an insane run where every three-pointer they took went in. The step-back-fade-away-three is supposed to be a once in a lifetime shot, but they were hitting four or five of them every fourth quarter.

It was unbelievable, to the point where I still sometimes choose to believe it never happened.

In a way, this all reminds me of the 1985-86 season. The Celtics lost to the Lakers in the previous NBA Finals. Everyone knew it would be a Celtics/Lakers rematch in 1986.

Everyone.

The Celtics held up their part of the bargain and made it to the Finals, but the Lakers didn't. The Lakers choked to the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals, effectively stealing the Celtics' chance at redemption.

By the time the Celtics and Rockets met, the result was a foregone conclusion. Just like this year's Lakers/Magic series.

I don't remember feeling empty in 1986, and I'm sure Lakers fans don't feel empty right now. But you have to admit, a victory over the Celtics would have meant a little more than a victory over the Magic. Just like a victory over the Lakers would have meant a little more to Boston than the victory over Houston did in '86.

At least the Celtics had an excuse. Kevin Garnett's injury effectively destroyed their shot at an NBA championship. They put up a valiant effort, but in the end The Truth was they just weren't good enough without their Hall of Fame big man.

The Cavs are a completely different story. Once it became apparent that the Celtics weren't going to win a championship, the next best thing was a LeBron/Kobe death match.

Who's number one? Who's the best in the NBA? Who's the next Michael Jordan?

But the Cavs were done in by the worst head coaching job in recent NBA history and a superstar who completely ran out of gas.

Memo to Mike Brown: MAKE A GOD DAMN DEFENSIVE ADJUSTMENT EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE!

Expecting James to be the scorer, playmaker, best defender, and head coach is too much to put on any player. Even one that's superhuman like LeBron.

All Mike Brown, NBA Coach of the Year, had to do was make a defensive adjustment. Any adjustment. He was coaching against Stan Van Gundy, for crying out loud.

Draw up a defense that involved either double-teaming Dwight Howard or staying with the three-point shooters. The half-assed, almost-doing-both plan that he went with the entire Eastern Conference Finals should have resulted in him being fired.

God only knows why he wasn't.

In a way, the Shaq trade is good for Cleveland. Say what you want about Shaq (he's old, doesn't fit into their offense, will clog up the lane and turn James into a jump shooter, etc.), but when it comes to a head coach, he's perfectly willing to call a spade a spade.

Just ask Stan Van Gundy.

The Magic were able to take advantage of a beat up Celtics team and a completely over-his-head head coach to steal the Eastern Conference championship. Good for them. Congratulations.

But they'll have to forgive me if the beating they took by the Lakers wasn't the ending I was hoping to get out of the 2008-09 NBA season.

Let's all hope that Kevin Garnett stays healthy and Mike Brown is fired during the 2009-10 season so we don't have to put up with this again.

The NBA Gods righted themselves after the 1985-86 season by giving us the Lakers/Celtics rematch we deserved. Here's the hoping the NBA Gods do the same thing next season.

Comments and Conversation

June 29, 2009

SoCalMike:

You really touched on a good point, Mike Brown was completely, utterly outcoached in the Eastern Conference Finals. Actually, did he do ANY coaching at all? Can anyone - ANYONE - please tell me how Mike Brown won the Coach Of The Year award, equaling the career total of Phil Jackson? He cannot coach LeBron, basically he praises the ground King James walks on during every pregame and postgame press conference, and his end-of-game offense consists of ‘Give LeBron the ball, everyone else stand around the 3-pt line’.

The Cav’s let LeBron get them by in the regular season against the east’s have-nots. That works in the regular season ‘Leastern Conference’. That works against the Pistons & Hawks of the NBA-world, But the deeper teams go into the playoffs, the harder the competition. Besides, teams in the defense see you 4-7 times in 2 weeks, they will FIGURE OUT YOUR SCHEMES! Coaches gotta make adjustments, little things like letting Zydrunus shoot a little more from the outside, a shot he can make, and draw Dwight Howard out from the lane. I don’t know, that is just one lousy example. Anyways, I’m glad ‘Team LeBron’ lost - it shows that one man does not a team make. Kinda funny how LeBron talks about involving his teammates, yet when the game is on the line it is him dominating possessions at the end, Kobe gets ripped for his selfish play (at least he did a few seasons ago) and here is Kobe feeding his teammates and getting them involved in game-winning situations. Gee, perhaps a coach can run plays for the Cav’s to not involve just LeBron - oh wait, we just ‘Witnessed’ King James doing what he wants and a coach seemingly incapable of going against ‘The Chosen One’…

June 29, 2009

Anthony G.Darrell:

hey kobe,if you would love to play cricket then come to Bermuda.Cricket is our national sport.We also have a holiday and it is played over two days.(its the biggest holiday on the island)its called Cup Match.So get on a plane and fly to another world (Bermuda)

June 29, 2009

marino:

im sorr but you are completely a bonehead writer. first of all there was no laker beating in the finals…if it werent for a missed point blank alley-oop and a couple free throws the magic are up 3-1 check your stats. secondlyheres a news flash three point shooters shoot threes thats wat they do nd they are good at it….infactthe scary thing is except for like three games the magic didnt even shot well from three which was surprising to everyone. thirdly jameer nelson was no-where near in form he didnt even shoot and he averaged 27 points against the lakers in regular season. that is the biggest mismatch for the magic against the lakers is nelson against farmar or fischer niether one can contain him, but due to injury we didnt have that mismatch.

mike brown wasnt the best coach but go watch the series again and u will see that they lost because they couldnt make shots and the double teams on howard were too small and ineffective. cleaveland lost because lebron had no supporting cast.the magic DESTROYED cleaveland the only reason it looked a little better was because of horrible officiating that at the end of the game put lebron on the line every single time. i suggested u take a long vacation from writing and learn a few things about basketball before another column.

PS.
THREE POINT SHOOTERS MAKE THREE’S THATS THEIR GAME GENIOUS.

June 29, 2009

steve:

Jackson didn’t star-bleep his way to championships to pass Auerbach. Every championship coach had tremendous talent on his team. Don’t forget that most of the Celtics championships were won by only winning one or two series as opposed to today when a team goes through four series to win a ring. And if you’re going to LOATHE Bryant, at least spell it correctly.

June 30, 2009

da don:

wow typical, everyones a laker hater, you only hate whats great, and thats kobe and the lakers, hate all you want, your hate will help the lakers win more rings, if you cant beat them join them lol, thank you come again. celtics? Lmfao fake, just like there fans, only around once every 20 years, lakers beat celtics 2-0 this year, lakers would have beat them 4-1 in the finals too…… please your hate is weak, i seen bigger haters crawling under rocks!!!!! dont worry lakers will make more people cry when they win 3 out of the next 4 years!!!!

June 30, 2009

Free Speech:

I hope the rest of your NBA Finals-watching days keep you unhappy and unfulfilled then

June 30, 2009

SportsFan:

Did this writer even see last year’s playoffs? Boston barely made it out of the first 2 rounds of playoffs by needing a game 7 in each of those series. If you’re going to write something, please at least do some research so you can at least appear to be unbiased.

Leave a Comment

Save Info?

Marketplace

Partner Sites