Long Shots

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ERIC CLARK
After watching the NBA Western Conference semifinals this past week, I started thinking about how ridiculous the game of basketball is played at the professional level.

It really shouldn’t even be called basketball. It should be called “let the Lakers do whatever they want.” Or in the case of this column, “the fellowship of the NBA rings.”

I’m not a Lakers fan, as you might have picked up from my disgust with the Laker style of play.

Seriously, should a guy be allowed to throw an elbow into the chops of his defender, knocking him to the ground, almost breaking his nose, just to catch the ball?

Is that basketball?

How about the battle ram that Shaq calls a drop step? Should that be allowed?

I’ve heard basketball fans tout Shaquille as the successor to Wilt Chamberlain or Bill Russell. Come on, they have to be kidding.

He’s big. That’s it.

A guy as big as O’Neal should score at least 50 points per game, but because he’s nothing but a big lug with a limited number of moves, he hasn’t won my respect as a player.

If you knew you could score every time you touched the ball, wouldn’t you do it every time?

Anybody who can get away with the traveling and the offensive fouls that Shaq gets away with should be able to rattle home at least 50 points a game, don’t you think?

I wonder if he has ever had a guy just completely reject him on a drop-step and dunk? If he hasn’t, wouldn’t you dunk the ball every time you were passed the ball? Who would stop you? You’re a 7-footer weighing almost as much as two NBA players combined.

And who hasn’t heard the comparison between Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan?

Bryant is an exceptional player with some great skills, sometimes mirroring that of His Airness.

But no matter how many titles Bryant wins, he will never eclipse Jordan for one simple reason-class.

Bryant’s post-game interviews have become so self-serving I’ve completely lost respect for the guy.

How about Laker head coach Phil Jackson? What’s this guy’s motivation?

It seems to me that he may be the only guy on the Lakers team that is realistic and respected.

Jackson has won countless titles, but he’s never denied that his players win the titles.

The former Chicago Bulls coach is a very intelligent man.

Surround yourself with star athletes, grab a few generic players and throw in a hot head like Dennis Rodman or Robert Horry and you have a recipe for an NBA championship.

I guess I’m just sick and tired of seeing the Lakers once again squeaking their way into the finals, and I guarantee I’ll be cheering on the New Jersey Nets every step of the way.

The only problem with cheering against the Lakers is that if history tells you anything, they’ll probably win in five games and the Nets won’t even be a challenge.

But maybe the Nets can pull off a miracle and finally dethrown the Lakers. It might take a battling ram and missile or two, but it could happen-and Jason Kidd could be the answer.

And maybe there’s a good story that could inspire the children and adults alike who will be watching the NBA finals.

That when a 7-foot giant, a wizard and sorcerer named Phil challenge others for the crown of the “NBA Kingdom,” it may take only a “Kidd” to restore the balance to a game we call basketball -and not “the fellowship of the NBA ring.”

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