Monday, June 14, 2004

Watching the Wheels

Hitting on all cylinders, Pistons 1 win from title

Is it just me, or did the wheels come off the Lakers last night? Even in the postgame interviews, Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson said the right things, but you could see in their posture and hear in their voices that they have an inkling that they're about to discover a new sensation: watching another team hoist the trophy right in their faces.

Of course, the Lakers could make history and come back from being down 3-1, as no team has ever done in the NBA Finals. But considering that Detroit has outplayed the Lakers in every game of the series, only losing game two because Kobe hit a fluke shot with two seconds left in regulation and owned the five-minute overtime, it's hard to imagine how Phil gets their old bones moving in a new direction that results in three straight wins. It's much easier to imagine the Pistons closing this thing out on Tuesday. My fingers are crossed.


Paul Allen said...

It's heartening to see Detroit do so well, not only because I don't like the Lakers, but because it's a clear representation that teamwork will win out over individual play.

You're right, a comeback looks unlikely, not just because of the odds but because if the Lakers were able to make adjustments to win, they sure should have made them by now. Still, given the Lakers' mythology, I wouldn't completely rule out a miracle.

McKenzie said...

Historically or statistically speaking, what is the likelyhood that an elite group of players, thrown together for a short period of time(say one to two seasons of play) will yeild in a championship?

Examples are obviously the Lakers, first when they put together Shaq and Kobe, then the recent addition of Malone and Payton, who just want a ring before they retire. That doesn't look like its going to work out.

Whereas the late season trade of Wallace to the Pistons looks like it worked out well for everyone, at least so far. And I believe he's in the last year of his contract, so he's not likely to remain in Detroit for next season.

The other obvious example is the Yankees, though they manage to keep the all-stars together for several years before losing some and adding others. And while it doesn't always yield a championship, it certainly has gotten them a few.

So what is historically, and more importantly, financially the best course of action for a ball club. Do you through all your money at one or two seasons with an all-star cast, or slowly build a cohesive team with a few core/consistent leaders and earn yourself a title? What would you do?

Richard said...

Historically I think the build-a-team-slowly strategy has been more popular. Look at the Bulls of the '90s; the core of the team (Jordan, Pippen, Grant, Paxson) developed together for years before they won a championship. A bit of tweaking (the addition of Bill Cartwright) put them over the top. But that only worked because the team had a system in place for Cartwright to walk into and be a part of. The same thing was true for Rasheed Wallace--he joined a team that had a way of playing and stepped into his assigned role.

The Lakers, on the other hand, didn't have a clue what roles they should play. Pass to Shaq? Pass to Kobe? Dish to Malone? No one knew who was in charge, and they never developed into a cohesive unit. No one should be stunned that a team with the wherewithal to exploit that weakness could embarrass them, though everyone, including me, is.

So I'd say slow-burn is the way to go; teams need time to grow together. Collecting a bunch of all-stars and expecting them to turn into a team has been tried without success too many times to believe it can be a sure-fire strategy for a championship.