Back to the Future

The talent was always there, but the Lig was definitely a different monster back then. What was young fella really going to do with Zo? KG definitely paid his dues but 12 years later yet and still has a passionate love for the game to make this moment happen.

The story of the 2008 NBA Finals is not one of the Lakers versus Celtics rivalry. It is more of the student and teacher, and how the one will triumph the other.

Everywhere you look, or turn as it pertains to the 2008 NBA Finals is about 1987 and the soon to be renewed historic games between the Lakers and Celtics. From the Jr. sky hook and the bird’s nest, to Johnny Most and Chick Hearn this is as close as it will get, because that was then and this is now. Not to rain on the parade, but presently these teams are rivals in theory, because they have never battled for the title, or anything else for that matter in decades. If both teams are to repeat as conference champions next season, then and only then can we burn the nostalgia log and reminisce around the fire.

When breaking down the Lakers versus Celtics, the play of their superstars is the barometer at which we should measure this series. Kevin Garnett is the leader of his group, and as a future member of the Hall of Fame this is how its supposed to be. Kobe Bryant is not only the league MVP, but he is also as most consider him, to be the best player on the planet. Together they are the leaders of the new school, as the successful players to make the jump from high school to the professional ranks. Now there have been others, but none have garnered the accolades of “The Kid” and “The Kid”. Yes KG was stuck in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and KB8 had a certain 7-foot center, but all in all, they are destiny’s child, and on Thursday, June 5, 2008, we will witness the culmination of a trek that began in 1995.

2000 NBA All Star Game

It’s not just about talent for these two true to the game superstars bring all the intangibles

The date was March 6, 1996 and my best friend Brandon King and I went to go cheer on the Minnesota Timberwolves against our hapless Philadelphia 76ers. We were cheering against the home team not because we wanted them to “tank it” and get Allen Iverson in June…no, nothing like that. It was because we were there to cheer on University of Pennsylvania alum Jerome “Pooh” Allen, who was so legendary in the neighborhood, that he had the entire city trying to emulate his signature through the legs, behind the back cross over move. I don’t remember seeing Allen play because little did I know as a fresh faced teen that the NBA is a business, and when you have a high school player on your squad that was drafted with the 5th pick overall, he plays. While the accomplished Ivy League, and Philadelphia hero that was taken in the 2nd round, 20th pick, 49th overall sits the bench, and continues to work extremely hard in practice. I didn’t understand the politics, but it was there that I decided that I didn’t like Flip Saunders as a head coach.

Sorry coach, nothing personal.

Minnesota won the game 103-90, and it was the play of Kevin Garnett that really stood out. Here he is not that much older than I and he is playing in the NBA. I was both encouraged and perplexed. You have to understand that when I was growing up playing ball in the Sonny Hill League, the message revolved around two things, education and the game. Even the legend Rasheed Wallace went to college, so when Garnett skipped higher learning, people were surprised. Which brings me to another point…I was so frustrated with Flip Saunders for not putting Jerome Allen in the game that I began to concentrate less on the Wolves, and more on the people around me. As I scanned the audience for a fine “hunny”, I saw a young man that looked as if he were studying for a final exam, rather than watching a basketball game. It was Kobe Bryant, the younger brother of my crush Sharia. You see his oldest sister Sharia played volleyball at Temple University and at 5’10” she not only excelled at the sport, she made it look GOOD. I became friends with her thinking that if I couldn’t get a date, I could at least befriend her.

One day after mustering up some courage, I told her that I play basketball and she smiled and says ‘yeah, well you can’t beat my little brother! I didn’t know who she was talking about so I said, ‘go get your brother…and a few days later I was standing in front of her 6’4″ younger brother with a look that spelled anger, so after denying the facts, I naturally wanted to get on his good side and befriend him also.

By the time I saw Kobe at that 76ers game I was comfortable enough with him to speak, but I decided not to because of the way he was “enjoying” the game. I never saw anything like it and by June 26, everything made sense. Bryant was drafted 13th by the Charlotte Hornets and later traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for Vlade Divac.

He was in fact studying that game, and more specifically he was concentrating on Kevin Garnett and how he faired as a high school prodigy against the likes of the NBA. It was no secret in Philadelphia that Kobe had been practicing at St. Joseph’s University against the 76ers, giving Jerry Stackhouse headaches, so he didn’t lack for confidence, I just figured that he wanted to see someone else put in work to make his argument to enter the draft a little more solid.

It was the classic scenario of student learning from teacher. Bryant had a year to watch Garnett, to make what would become the biggest move of his young life. Luckily for the Lakers, Jerry West saw the “it” factor in Bryant, brining him to La La land in a trade that resembles the one for Manhattan island centuries before.

Thank you for reading thus far and if you couldn’t tell, I’m picking the Lakers to win this series 4-2. It could go 7 games, but it really doesn’t matter how many contests it takes, the only thing that matters is who wins the Larry O’Brien trophy.

The teams are about even except in 3 categories:

  • Coach, advantage Lakers. Phil Jackson does coach, the knock on Jackson is that he usurps championship teams, but none of them have won without him, end of story.
  • Bench, advantage Lakers. The run and gun triangle is fueled by youth that now have valuable Western Conference Playoff experience.
  • Will power, advantage Lakers. Kobe Bryant is dedicated to basketball like no one else in the league, or on this earth for that matter. He is truly crazy in love with the game, and he has not worked this well, with this team to lose this series. Kevin Garnett is focused, and he plays with the emotion from chopping fire wood in his native South Carolina, however Bryant has an edge that hasn’t been seen in a long time. As a matter of fact, after that final game that ended the defending champion Spurs season, Bryant had a moment to catch up with Tony Parker in the hallway outside the locker room, and Kobe shrugged his shoulders and apologized to Parker saying, “I’m sorry…the demon just came out.”

“This game’s in the refrigerator: the door is closed, the lights are out, the eggs are cooling, the butter’s getting hard, and the Jell-O’s jiggling.” – Chick Hearn

Peace.

The Most Known Unknown.

16 Responses to “Back to the Future”

  1. AXG, Pooh is my cousin, we’re related through marriage. Our families basically grew up together. He introduced me to KB24 his junior year at Lower Merion. I’m also good friends with Mark Jackson from Roman Catholic we grew up in the same neighborhood.

    Pooh told me about his last tryout with the Lakers it was in the midst of the Three-Peats – how Phil Jackson came at him like he was a rookie, it was then that he realized that the League was political and that he was better off overseas.

    Larry Brown was his coach in Indiana and the next season he was in Philly, I was hoping that he would bring Pooh over with him but it wasn’t to be.

  2. Mizzo says:

    Definitely dug the piece AXG and you know I’m lovin’ the most known unknown.

    This had me going back. I had to link LONS What’s Next.

    I’m looking at the Philly News announcement Kobe was going pro. Remember the pic when he had the shades and the baldy?

    This is the difference between the game you see on TV and what’s really real.

    Good work.

  3. Glad you gentlemen appreciated the anecdote. Stories about Kobe never get old. Thebrotherreport, “Pooh” Allen is a local legend and I only wished that he had a better NBA career, however life in Italy is good for him, so I’m happy for the man, and Mizzo if you have the paper from when KB said he was going pro, you had better get it signed after the season, because how many times do we encounter a player like Kobe Bean Bryant?

    And you know I love bringing OUR stories straight out of North and West Philadelphia!

  4. Temple3 says:

    That’s some serious backstory. You can’t that at every blog. Philly is like the center of the universe right now.

    Anyway, this series is very likely to take on a heated competitive air quickly. The players on both teams know the history of the league and of their respective franchises. Bill Russell is not removed from the picture. Magic is not off in the distance – neither is Kareem. These folks are right there — and they’re on the phone calling up these players telling them that this is the PINNACLE of NBA basketball. There is nothing bigger in this sport than the Celtics and Lakers.

    This is a legacy series and the way this series is played is going to define a lot of these players – for better or for worse. The hype alone will elevate this series to a level you would not see if Detroit were playing the Spurs…or if any two other teams were meeting. Some franchise rivalries are so enduring (30 championships between the teams) that even if they haven’t played on the grand stage for 21 years, it changes nothing.

    I know that Bill Russell wants to beat the Lakers as much as he wants his next breath. I know Magic wants to beat the Celtics just as much. How can a player of Garnett or Pierce’s stature spend time in that circle and be unaffected? Kobe is going to bring it – no question – no worries about that…but Garnett has to be a player he hasn’t been — a physical, demand-the-ball, at-will scorer in crunch time. He won’t have to do it every night, but he or Pierce are going to have to step up and match Bryant.

    The process of matching the best player on the greatest state while wearing the greatest uniforms in the sport (while playing under the retired jerseys of Russell, Bird, Parish, McHale, Cousy, Havlicek, West, Jabbar, Johnson, Worthy, Chamberlain, Baylor and so many others) must call a player to another level. If this doesn’t do it — check your pulse.

    This isn’t just another series. It will be intense because it has to be. Too many guys are playing for our collective memories for it to be anything less. You’ll see.

  5. Temple3 says:

    AG:

    I like the Lakers too. Mostly because of KBB — and those 3 factors you identified. I think you’re on the money.

  6. Chris Cason says:

    AG, this is truly a great article. I wish everyone could hear these stories of Kobe. I have heard about Kobe killing Stackhouse inworkouts, just like LeBron was giving the Cavaliers players fit in practice. Kobe was and still is a student of the game.

    No one realizes how dedicated this guy truly is and it’s a shame. Like Scoop told Kobe-after he won the ASG MVP in Philadelphia and was booed- “In ten years.” It’s sad to know that we are watching excellence and still have individuals hating because of silly biases and misperceptions.

    About this series, I truly believe we are about to see a side of Kevin Garnett we haven’t seen before. His hunger is matched by Kobe’s, but the Lakers are the deeper team and I expect them to win in 6.

  7. Temple3 you are right on the money when you talk about Magic, Russell, and Abdul-Jabbar, as a matter of fact Tommy Heinsohn will be in the broadcast booth and we can only imagine who else is going to be there. And if I played under the retired banner of Wilt Chamberlain it would no doubt give me a charge. Hadn’t thought of that. The main point I wanted to make was that while this may take everyone back to ’87, there is much more to the story, and don’t even get me started on how Kobe likes to dismantle ANYONE in his draft class…and FYI he is not too fond of Walter Ray Allen.

    To Christopher Cason from the city of wind…thanks for stopping by and reading this post, and by all means come back and see us sometime.

  8. Nicole 10/20 says:

    As a Chicagoan it is sad to see that the Bulls did not perserve their legacy by having their superstars connected to the organization…Paxson is ok, but not if not Micheal at least have Scottie

  9. Temple3 says:

    AG:

    I’m glad you mentioned the Ray Allen thing. And Kobe likes Bruce Bowen. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

  10. Vince Leon says:

    Dear Big Brother Unknown,

    I think its easy for a lot of us to take the safe approach in choosing the lakers as the favorite in the nba finals and look at the game through the eyes of their widely criticized and fearless leader. But I grew up a basketball purist and I want to be the first to say I don’t think the lakers can get done. I think we underestimate what this one time historical all white blue collar team now represents as an all Black franchise with a Black coach. Just as Kobe is praised for his great work ethic and obsession of trying to get out of the MJ shadow. Trust me when I say that there are other dudes that work just as hard that don’t get no pub that want it just as bad. And they go by the name of the “Boston 3 Party.” Yes Mr. Shuttlesworth has been struggling and its easy for us to say KG is to unselfish, but all this franchise has done all year is excel and achieve. They have done nothing but defy the odds and all the critics without the assistance of the bogus calls of the referees. I think it was a little harsh to say that KG is only focused. That man puts his team and his dreams on his back every night. And I know its easy to love anyone who doesn’t have a Kobe Bryant personality, because honestly thats why a lot of us don’t like him as a person. But he is not the only one who has recently arrived or uses his inner-demons fuel his car. They all play the same game with the same socks and the same shoe laces. They all grew up at the park spending long nights at the office dreaming of this one moment. You dam right its all about the intangibles. Their bench is as good, and as deep in young players, and talent as the lake show. Pound for pound the lakes are more impressive but a lot of them dudes real rap is kinda soft. I close by saying in Paul we trust. He has not let us down yet and I will not go without giving that man the proper pub and respect. To tell the “Truth” that man is a problem. He put the book bag on and went to school on Bron Bron and Detroit. And the good part about his game besides the fact he attacks the rim as fearless as Kobe is he also plays D.

    ~Everything that make sense on paper does not materialize the way in which it should. Ask my man Mr. Big shot and the rest of those 2004 NBA Champions who arguably beat one of the most impressive laker teams I have seen in my halfa tenure

    Always a pleasure,

    Vince Leon aka little brother black maybe

  11. Vincanity, this is why they play the games, and this is going to be one heck of a series!

    Go Lake Show.

  12. origin says:

    Good article AXG. But me and Mizzo got the celts :)!!!

    Been riding them since they made the trade for KG. Everybody except for Mizzo thought I was crazy.

    Also what is knew with the celts not being favored in a series. Only series that I know that folks expect them to win was the ATL series.

    Yeah they are struggling in the playoffs, but big deal so did the first lakers championship team (2000 playoffs) with Shaq and Kobe.

    Lakers will win games one (then everyone in the media will scream doom and gloom, cause phil is 40-0 win winning the first game of a series). But the celtics will steal a game in LA (to ensure that they win 3 games on the road in this years playoffs) and go back to Boston done 3-2. They win the last 2 at boston.

    So Celts in 7.

    Now I am torn in this series. One I would like Garnett to win for all those years he has put in. A adopted chicago kid (in us chicago folks eyes) and a player who wasn’t considered the second best PF in the league (even though Duncan is a Center, but I will call him a PF) cause Dirk was making the playoffs every year becuase he had a better surrounding cast. Plus I would love for him to win so that these fools in Dallas can have sleepless nights knowing they could have had Garnett for super soft Dork….ummm I mean Dirk. (even kobe for dirk this past summer) Plus a brother like doc rivers could get some credit. These good ole boys in the media make it seem as though he can’t even tie his shoe.

    At the same time I would love for Kobe to win just to rub it in the medias face. All those folks who said he couldn’t do it. All those folks who said he was selfish and still guilty because of what happened in colo. Same with those ignorant hate filled fans who will be rooting against him because of what happened in Colo (cause you’ll probably know some folks who will be rooting against him cause they still think he got away with rape).

    D@MN I wish Garnett could have went to the lakers. Kobe and Garnett…..Dang!!!

    Anyway the last time when I didn’t care what team would win and was rooting for both teams was when the bears played the colts. The fact that 2 brothers had a chance to be the superbowl winning coach was all that mattered to me.

    Anyway I might have to put something on this. Messed around and didn’t put anything on the Pats and Giants………even though I picked the giants man.

    Anyway whats the over under on how many games luke walton or rajon rondo will cost their respective teams!!!LOL!!!

    I say luke 3 games and Rondo 2!!!!

  13. origin says:

    Oh and Nicole you are so right. I have been saying this on here for the last 5 months.

    All MJs and Pippens hard work wnet down the drain.

    Oh well my bulls may end up being the Boston Redsox.

    Curse of the MJ!!!!

  14. [...] about Back to the Future…are we in 1968 again? How am I typing this if I was born just a couple of months ago. [...]

  15. Misty says:

    AG

    You know I love everything that you write because it’s the TURTH. I would rather hear the truth from a FAN than from some other cat who think he knows what he’s talking about. Thank you for every piece that you’ve ever written on Beans and thank you for the pieces that are to come.

  16. No one loves Beans more than you Misty!

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