The better team won.
I don’t think anyone can sit here today and not suggest that the Orlando Magic was by far the better team over the course of the Eastern Conference final against Cleveland.
Yes, the Cavs had the best player – except in the most important game of the series, that is – but, no, they did not get anything from anyone else and if the series didn’t underscore the indisputable fact that basketball is first and foremost a team game, I don’t know what will.
So the next time anyone asks you about this guy or that guy being able to “carry” his team or “take it to the next level” please scoff.
And so …
About last night
Say what you will about Dwight Howard’s offensive liabilities – and Lord knows his lack of finesse or touch or range is something I’ve harped on incessantly in this little space – but you cannot diminish what he did last night.
The 40 points were a career playoff high but it was more than that. It was the control he showed, no foul trouble, no emotional outbursts, nothing but a businesslike dismantling of an over-matched opponent.
Howard was at his lowest ebb after Game 5 in the Boston series, when he went public with complaints about his involvement in the offence; since then, he’s played like a man possessed and, thanks to a group of teammates who simply didn’t fold when things got tough, he’ll have the game’s biggest stage to perform on.
That’s a pretty good story.
Shocking but …
Brian’s game story out of Orlando lauds the Magic for what they’ve done.
Brian’s game story out of Cleveland suggests the level of disappointment and sadness around the Cavs has never been higher.
Where’d he go?
I know defeat stings and failing to meeting expectations has to hurt more than anything you can imagine to a great athlete like LeBron James but the way he handled himself at the end of the game, well, it sucks.
Blowing off the media is one thing – although it’s out of character for him, and he sure seemed to be around every other time anyone ever wanted to talk to him, after wins or losses or at halftime or pre-game.
But to not walk down the court, or even stay on the court to congratulate the Magic? That’s just wrong.
A quick handshake, maybe a quick hug, maybe a word of congratulations to Dwight Howard, a former Olympic teammate. Something.
But nothing? Nothing’s bush league and James is better than that.
I’m sure he’ll get a pass, his teammates were giving him one post-game if you believe the stuff in this story, but we shouldn’t in my opinion.
Yes, you can love his skills and we all do. But no, you cannot excuse the way he handled himself in defeat.
Maybe you do learn more about people in defeat than in victory.
What’s the future hold?
So, there’s a suggestion that Ben Wallace is contemplating retirement, Anderson Varejao has an opt-out everyone thinks he’ll take (and suggestions he’ll want $10 million a year make me shudder in disbelief) and who knows what they’ll do with the spot currently occupied by Wally Szczerbiak.
General manager Danny Ferry resisted the urge to deal Szczerbiak’s expiring contract at the trade deadline – a decision I am dead certain he regrets at the moment – so now the pressure’s on him to find some way to retool this roster before next season.
Forget for the moment about LeBron and 2010, if the Cavs don’t make some kind of substantial move this summer, I don’t think there’s anyway this group – a year old – can repeat the regular season success it had this season.
What about 2010?
Call me when it’s 2010. The pages and airwaves are going to be chock full of “What’s LeBron going to do” nonsense. If you want to read it, go read somewhere else, I couldn’t care less until almost a year from now.
Here are a couple of letters from a mailbag I have to finish off this afternoon or this evening sometime:
Q: Hey Doug, just curious but does Chris Anderson's performance in the playoffs positively affect a player like Mensah-Bonsu's salary? He seems to be proving (again) how valuable energy players off the bench can be.
Matt M, Calgary
A: No, it has no bearing whatsoever on anyone other than Chris Andersen.
Q: On a scale of 1 to 10, what do you think the odds of Kobe Bryant ending up with a new home this summer are? I know LA is having the success he "said" he wants but I have this feeling that Lebron won't be the one playing in NYC. Remember D'Antoni and him are buds.
John S, Sudbury
A: Zero. None. Nada. Zip. With a gun held to my head and I had to give a percentage, it’d be one millionth of one per cent. And even that’s a stretch.
So, who wins? Lakers or Magic? Kobe or Dwight? Phil or Stan? The Lakers bench or the Magic subs?
I’m still not entirely sure who I like; thankfully, I’ve got a couple of days to figure it out. And once I talk to various web and paper bosses, we’ll figure out when to write what.
Oh yeah the Raptors.
I fully expect news in the next 24-48 hours, specifically about coaches but I also think that now that I’ll have a day or so to work the phones, we might find out what transpired in Chicago and how
they’re their draft plans are shaking out.
We are getting down to the time they need to start developing a list of candidates in order, hopefully we can shed some light on that before the finals begin.
Now, it looks like a perfect day coming to go sit on some patio or somewhere to do the mailbag – still gladly accepting letters – while figuring out the pick for the finals and finding an inexpensive way to get to L.A.
If you see a guy in a lounge or somewhere typing, that’d be me. Come on over and say hi.