Shaw Time: More Answers To More Comments
Thanks for your comments, kind and otherwise. It may disturb some Lakers fans to know that for five years I produced The Boston Celtics Greenbook (I also produced a similar guide on the Lakers for the ill-fated 1991 season when Magic abruptly retired). Reggie Lewis was one of my favorite people on the Celtics, a sweetheart of a person, always easy to talk to. I was always amazed by his mix of confidence and humility. Unfortunately, cocaine just about crushed the Celtics, beginning with the death of 1986 draft pick Len Bias and followed by the untimely death of Lewis in 1993.
I first wrote a story on Brian Shaw umpteen years ago when he was a young, unheralded guard faced with the job of replacing Celtics legend Dennis Johnson.Brian earned the trust of both Bird and McHale. “Dennis is the easiest guy I ever played with,” Larry Bird said at the time, then offered heady praise for Shaw. “He made things happen for me. Brian’s a little different because he looks to penetrate, looks to make things happen for himself out there. But Brian’s awful good. He does a little bit of everything. He rebounds, plays great defense. He's a total package.”
(Lakers fans love Shaw as the guy who ignited The Great Comeback against Portland in the fourth quarter of Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference finals.)
Bird and McHale never broke out in petty fighting or public disrespect of one another. Yet their relationship was chilly and hardly extended beyond the court (not really all that unusual because there is as much competition within a team for status as there is with the opponent on the floor). There were times they said little to one another, except on the court. Bottom line, as Shaw pointed out, they maintained respect for one another. That respect brought them three championships and allowed them to compete together until their playing days were over.
Kobe and Shaq won three championships as the heart of the Lakers, but the pettiness escalated between them, as Lakers fans well know.
On the economics front, Jellybean Bryant did tremendously well as a long-term pro basketballer, eight years in the NBA (his top salary well exceeded $75,000) and eight years as the darling of Europe. Kobe Bryant was raised as a child of privilege and opportunity.
I suggest that that makes his drive and toughness all the more remarkable.
As for the Redd factor, I don't think excuses are in order. They got their butts kicked. Redd has made himself a superior NBA scorer. When a player of that caliber is hot, only a rough, snake-biting defender has a chance to slow him down (aka Bruce Bowen, someone willing to "get into" the shooter). Kobe is a good defender, but he's not gonna hack and chop and shove to stop Redd. When the two teams meet again, maybe he will.
K's modus operandi, of course, is to outscore and silence such opponents. He's in more of a team mode these days, so don't expect him to accept personal challenges. The other factor is the zone the Bucks used. The Lakers did not play well against it.
Then there's the officials. Funny that Dwyane Wade got all those touch fouls last year in the Finals, yet Bryant can't get a call in a physical game at home.
Bryant surely has been known for his various ploys for drawing fouls in recent years, but what athletic 2 guard doesn't know how to work the circumstances?
Just maybe the officials are tired of the Phil/Kobe combo and they're sending a message that they're not in a giving mood.
Funny, but as Rod Thorn explained to me over the summer, the new rules interpretation was to allow the truly athletic players the ability to perform free from hooliganism.
Tex Winter, meanwhile, has thrown up his hands in disgust with the officials. He sees no consistency whatsoever, new rules interpretations included.
Last, of course, and the least of any excuses would be that Kobe is still recovering from his knee surgery and simply unable to keep up with a smokin' Michael Redd. But that's lame, as are all the other excuses.
The Lakers didn't play hard enough and smart enough to win. Simple as that. They can't afford a whole lot of nights like that.
I'm eager to phone Tex Winter to hear his take on things. People sometimes say that he's fussing too much. But as I pointed out in a previous column, if you don't stay on top of a team, your players are prone to drifting.
The Lakers got caught in a full drift against the Bucks.
And everyone in Lakersville will be eager to see how they respond tonight against Utah.
If you can find it.