Monday, June 14, 2010

It's nut-cutting time

One of the best (and funniest) people I've met during 32 years of covering sports is Lionel Simmons.

They called him the L-Train because of his name, but also because he was one of college basketball's most prolific scorers.

Simmons was a first-round draft choice (No. 7 overall) by the Sacramento Kings in 1990 (one of a record four (Travis Mays, Duane Causwell and Anthony Bonner) and used his knowledge of the game, mental and physical toughness as well as skill versatility to average 16 to 17 points, seven or eight rebounds and four assists.

Simmons only played until he was 28 before knee troubles strongly encouraged him to retire. Knee pain reduced his time on the court. Simmons had enough foresight to consider life after hoops, both financially and physically.

Simmons, despite less than superior athleticism, was an excellent clutch player. Not only did he possess the acumen to get a shot he wanted and could make under duress, Simmons also made plays for his teammates, who early in his career lacked in overall quality.

Simmons used to call those game-turning situations, 'nut-cutting time.' Exactly why, I'm not sure, but the dire circumstances were translated.

You know - do what you do or get off the pot.

You don't have to go home, but you've got to get the hell out of here.

Hit your point or give up the dice.

The NBA Finals have reached nut-cutting time, folks, particularly for the Los Angeles Lakers. They have kicked their margin for error to the curb. The Lakers, who held 1-0 and 2-1 advantages in this best-of-seven series, have to come up big in Tuesday night's Game Six or they are done.

All of Kobe Bryant's heroics will go for naught, unless the rest of the Lakers can play to their potential. The bit players need not perform excellently, but no longer can they get down at a sub-par rate en masse.

The Boston Celtics clearly have stepped up individually to perform as a team at a level at which even the Lakers have had to marvel. Boston's team defense has turned the Lakers normally efficient offense into five guys looking for their first pickup game together.

It's the rare situation when the Lakers are able to uncover an open shot, particularly by anyone capable of consistently make one.

What this series is showing is Bryant is the best tough-shot maker in NBA history. Boston's defense is consistently providing opportunities for Bryant to display this quality.

The Celtics inevitably are able to get one defender, if not two, to challenge virtually every Lakers shot attempt.

The series opened with conversation about whether Bryant had reached Michael Jordan status.

What we've also learned is Phil Jackson better unearth a Steve Kerr clone; a Craig Hodges light at the offensive end. Defensively, Jackson better find some players who will refuse to fold and go gently.

Remember Gasol spoke earlier this series accurately about how Kevin Garnett's athleticism had declined. Perhaps now Gasol realizes that Garnett's heart and desire have not dissipated. And at this point, heart and desire are just as important, if not more so, than athleticism and execution.

Who wants it more?

That's what we'll find out Tuesday night.

Certainly, if the Celtics can win Game Six, it'll be their second victory in L.A. in three Finals games and they will have displayed their mettle to get a well-earned second title in three seasons.

Fast breaks

Ron Artest needs to stop thinking and play.

Boston's Glen (Big Baby) Davis is the classic example for teams to look at how well players can move their feet when drafting.

If those who listen to Glenn (Doc) Rivers manage his team don't realize this guy is a heck of a coach, they'd might want to invest in ear wax removal.

I'm with Bryant. If he needs now to tell his teammates what time it is, this series is over before Game Six begins.

Can Gasol score again against Boston in the post?

If the Celtics were the second-best road team (tied with Cleveland at 26 wins, behind Dallas' 27) and the Lakers were tied with Atlanta, Orlando and Denver with 34 victories behind Cleveland's league-leading 35 home wins, what does this truly mean? Just as much as Phil Jackson's 47-0 mark in series after winning Game One.
Those stats mean nothing - never did, never will. Stats achieved during this series carry far more weight.

More, more and more, yet

Let me see if I've got this right: Tom Izzo is 55 and needs to hear from LeBron James if he should go from Michigan State to Cleveland and make $3 million more a year for the next five years.
As nice as James is, if I'm Izzo and Cleveland is jocking me as hard as it appears to be, I'd crack for another $1 million a year if James doesn't return. For $20 million more during that span, I'd coach the Fat Boys.

All of this college football shagging just illuminates how powerless the NCAA really is in 2010. I'd sure have no problem if 'student-athletes' unionized and asked for a percentage of all this money coming into the mix.

And another thing: I think I should get some of my people (and your people, too) together and work on the safest, secure, plush and stylish strip club on the West Coast.
If athletes, such as Vince Young (since he's in the news right now) can't keep their butts and surplus dinero out of these clubs, somehow I should monetize.

If that's impossible, perhaps establishing Marty Mac's travelling dancing girls could be the hookup. We'd line up a veritable harem of beautiful ladies who could come to the athletes' place of choice so we could keep these knuckleheads out of trouble, particularly public trouble.

Let's see, you are in a strip club and instead of enjoying the company of the ladies, you are talking to some other hard-heads about whatever.

Whatever is right!

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