As we approach the halfway point, let’s review our preseason predictions. OK, how many of you had the Lakers at No. 11 in the West? I did – well, if you take away one of the ones. Who dreamed that it wouldn’t work with Steve Nash – perhaps the most skilled point guard ever, even if he was 38 – and Dwight Howard – the most dominating big man, even coming off back surgery – joining Kobe Bryant, even at 34, with defenses
Who’s laughing now? For lack of anything better, local writers – of whom I’m one – have used that lords-of-all-they-survey-vs.-dregs-of-the-earth angle for Lakers-Clippers meetings since 1984, when Donald T. Sterling relocated his team from the mid-market paradise of San Diego, only to see it become the Promised Land’s village idiots. At the moment, the royals have traded roles with the village idiots, going into Friday’s meeting to see who’s whom here now.
We’ve been doing an awful lot of writing here at SheridanHoops on the Clippers, and you can’t blame us, eh? There are some former Buffalo Braves fans sitting through storms in the snow belt in Western New York who are in their glory, not to mention a bunch of folks down the road in San Diego who recall the powder blue days of yore.
David Stern, soon to be remembered as the NBA’s greatest commissioner – once he’s retired and everyone stops moaning about everything he does – once joked his ideal matchup was “the Lakers vs. the Lakers.” Actually, a league is best served when both conferences are balanced; when there are glamour teams involved at the end, but also when all teams have a fair chance. To see what glamour teams are worth, look at what the New York Yankees’ long run has done
Meanwhile, on the other side of the tracks … Yes, we’re all used seeing to the Lakers and Clippers in separate strata but, aw, you guessed it. Just over a year since Chris Paul almost became a Laker and turned into a Clipper instead, we’re now also used to those La-La land-themed last-shall-be-first-and-vice-versa stories. Of course, the Lakers never really stop being the Lakers, and the Clippers never really stop being the Clippers – so far.
The Knicks are for real? Improbable as their comeback is, unlikely as they are to keep making 41% of the 29 threes they’re launching each game, yes, they’re for real. This is fabulous for the NBA, which has done as well in recent seasons as a recently scorned league can without a respectable team in New York.
I thought of making the Spurs No. 1 for knocking off Memphis – my fourth team in four weeks to fail its audition at the top – but I was afraid Gregg Popovich could give his whole team a week off. With the Spurs 5-0 on the nine-day trip ending in Miami, Pop sent home Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green to rest up for the Grizzlies, whom they beat in overtime two nights later. All it cost was
The Lakers dropped from seventh to 15th in SheridanHoops.com’s NBA Power Rankings, while the Clippers dropped from one to nine. CineSport’s Noah Coslov & SheridanHoops.com’s Mark Heisler discuss.