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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Basic Biittner: Lakers v. Celtics?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The NBA is now down to its version of the "Final Four," so I can finally start to get interested in the league - and this year, I may be more interested than I have been in recent years. If the Boston Celtics (my favorite team) beat the Detroit Pistons, and the L.A. Lakers (my second favorite team) beat the defending champion San Antonio Spurs, we will have the first match-up of the Lakers and Celtics for the title in quite a few years.

These title round matches used to be a regular thing, you may recall. In the 1960s, it was the Celts of Bill Russell, John Havlicek and Sam Jones battling the Lakers of Wilt, Elgin Baylor, and Jerry West; in the 1980s, it was Magic and Worthy vs. Bird, McHale and Parish. But since those halcyon days ...

If both storied franchises should somehow lose in their conference finals, it would still mean a match-up of the most successful franchises of recent years - the Pistons and Spurs - for the championship. Which might not be so bad, either.

Of course, what most likely will happen is a Celtics-Spurs or Pistons-Lakers series, in which case the network televising the games won't be real happy and as for my personally, I'd probably go back to rooting for Big Brown to win the Triple Crown or figuring out how in Earth the Yankees can possibly get into the pennant race.

USA Today recently asked its readers to pick the best five players of all-time for each NBA Franchise. For some of the newer franchises of course, this resulted in an all-time team of relatively obscure and questionably "great" players.

For the four franchises remaining in this year's quest for the title, however, there were some pretty good players from which readers had to make difficult choices. Here are their All-Time teams (reader votes in parentheses).

San Antonio - 1. Tim Duncan (2042); 2. David Robinson (2022); 3. George Gervin (1916); 4. Tony Parker (1466); 5. Manu Ginobli (1236). This list, which includes three current players (1,4, and 5),and one who retired within the last few years (#2), tells us that the Spurs' history is not quite as old as the other teams on this short list.

Detroit - 1. Isiah Thomas (1844); 2. Joe Dumars (1754); 3. Bob Lanier (1709); 4. Dave Bing (1530); 5.Chauncey Billups (947). #1 and 2 comprised the backcourt of the championship 'Bad Boys' teams of the 1980s and 90s; #5 is the point guard of this year's team, as well as for the team's last several successful years; #3 and 4 are long-time Piston stars on some not-so-successful teams of the 1960s.

Los Angeles - 1. Magic Johnson (1842); 2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1798); 3. Jerry West (1574); 4. Kobe Bryant (1294); 5. Elgin Baylor (1147). These were pretty much 'no-brainer' selections, consisting several of the all-time greats. Among the players who didn't make the readers' "cut'" were Wilt Chamberlain (who played for several franchises) and James Worthy (who didn't). I was pleasantly surprised to see the inclusion of Baylor, who was a truly outstanding "small forward" in the 1960s before becoming General Manager for one of the least successful teams in NBA history, the L.A. Clippers.

Boston 1. Larry Bird (2820); 2. Bill Russell (2790); 3. John Havlicek (2567); 4. Bob Cousy (2444); 5. Kevin McHale (1942). Some tough choices here, and among the many Celtic greats who missed the "cut" were Robert Parish (1347) and Dave Cowens and Sam Jones (1003 votes each).

Enjoy whatever sports you choose to watch in the coming months - and if the weather's nice, I suggest you choose to watch local sports teams, or do another outdoor activity.

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner