The Lakers-Celtics series certainly didn't live up to its billing. This series was supposed to take us back to NBA glory days, infusing new life into a championship series that was close to morbid in recent years. All it did, though, was highlight the biggest difference between today's NBA and the league of yesteryear -- style over substance.
The Lakers should have borrowed from the Celtics' 1984 playbook and cracked some skulls. Instead, every time a Celtic fell, Lamar Odom would offer a friendly hand to help him to his feet. He probably placed mints on their pillows last night, too. In the name of Xavier McDaniel, get a mean streak!
But there aren't any enforcers in the NBA anymore. The irony for the Lakers is the guy who did the dirty work in the mid-'80s, Mitch Kupchak, is now their GM. Yet, even he apparently can't find a player who will throw an elbow when needed. That doesn't mean going Kermit Washington, but if Kobe had a Rick Mahorn to protect him like Mahorn did for Isiah, maybe the Lakers could have competed in this series.
Instead, they rolled over because they were Winnie-the-Pooh soft. Not one offensive rebound until the fourth quarter and only two for the game? In Game 6 of the NBA Finals? That's really hard to fathom. That speaks as much about the Lakers' mental makeup as it does Boston's relentless defense (by the way, congrats to Doc Rivers, but if I'm an NBA owner, I'm going after defensive architect Tom Thibodeau).
Nanny-state rules, big money and league-wide friendships have stripped today's players of animosity toward opponents. That's what this series was missing, and that's what the NBA is missing.
Posted by Jason Thornbury at 6/18/2008 8:27:00 AM