View Full Version : Kings: "Paper Champions"

08-21-2002, 04:24 PM
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but rosters stuffed with superstar names and superlative statistics never hurt the defending NBA champs.

In the five-man game of possessions, matchups and runs, a hierarchy develops completely devoid of democracy. Everyone is not created equally. There are no minority rights. A balanced team is not defined by 12 guys averaging 8.33 points per game.

The Los Angeles Lakers have been the best team in the NBA three years running because no one has been able to stop Shaquille O'Neal. We've said it too many times not to start believing it now.

Daddy doesn't have to wait until eight other guys on his team shoot the ball before he is fed in the post again. He doesn't have to shuffle through 22 guys on the same field a mile long and almost as wide. The game may come down to a single point, but that certainly isn't going to be the only point scored including sudden death.

One guy, one possession, one matchup. Over and over again. You trade punches until somebody hits the canvas.

You can walk Barry Bonds as often as you like. But what if Bonds was up next. And again after that. And so on. What if Marshall Faulk could only be tackled by inside linebackers?

Sure, you could double-team Shaq, making it four on three, one of those four being Kobe Bryant. Start all over again, double team the kid and pretty soon Brian Shaw is hitting an open lay-up and getting his picture in the paper as everyone wonders how the Orlando Magic could possibly let him go back in 1997.

Robert Horry is famous because of six or seven shots. Derek Fisher has a job because he can hit wide open jumpers every other time. You wouldn't know who Rick Fox was unless he had married Vanessa Williams. A.C. Green, Horace Grant, Samaki Walker, Insert Name.

You get the point.

Right, right, left. The winner, by knockout . . .

Keon Clark might as well be Shawn Kemp or Dale Davis or Eddie Jones.

The three greatest teams on paper in recent memory have been the 1998 Lakers, 2000 Blazers and, now, the 2003 Kings. And in less than a year, they'll all have something in common. Not one of them will have a single ring between them.

In fact, the 2003 Kings could very well be the worst of the bunch. This isn't a scuba diving team. We aren't writing the great American novel. Nobody determines opening possession by the number of 7-footers you can shove in a volkeswagon or telephone booth. So stop using the word DEEP to describe the formula for NBA dominance.

Sure, the Kings have plenty of guys who can score for average, shoot for average, pass for average, dribble for average.

That makes them very average.

The 2000 Blazers shot 47 percent as a team. (The Kings shot 46 percent last year.) They held their opponents to 43 percent (Kings' opponents shot 44). They outrebounded their opponents by four and had five guys on their roster already with All-Star credentials not counting a former sixthman of the year and not including Bonzi Wells, Brian Grant and Jermaine O'Neal.

Rasheed Wallace, Steve Smith, Damon Stoudamire, Scottie Pippen and Arvydas Sabonis were the starting five of, perhaps, the greatest team on paper ever assembled. Detlef Schrempf was, at one time, the best bench player in the game. He was having to fight for minutes.

This team would go 10-6 in the playoffs, losing in the Western Conference Finals in a heartbreaking seventh game . . . just like the Kings

The 1998 Lakers averaged 105.5 points per game (The Kings averaged 104.6 last year) and shot 48 percent while holding their opponents to 43 percent. Their starting five consisted of Shaq, Eddie Jones, Nick Van Exel, Rick Fox and Robert Horry. I haven't even mentioned Bryant, who, along with those first three listed all made the All-Star team that season, Derek Fisher or Elden Campbell, who came off the bench for double-digits and scores 14 per game nowadays for the Hornets. Jon Barry nearly averaged double-digits this season for the Detroit Pistons by being the second-best three-point shooter in the entire league. He couldn't get a shot or minute in edgewise with these guys.

That team went 61-21 during the regular season before losing in the Western Conference Finals . . . just like the Kings.

The reason is simple.

The Lakers could not stop the Utah Jazz pick and roll. The Blazers could not stop Shaq. The Kings could not stop the Lakers' No. 1 option, which just so happens to be, was, will be . . . Shaquille O'Neal.

The Lakers became the World Champion Lakers when they went from four All-Stars to two. Something about quality and quantity.

Jordan and Pippen. Magic, Jabbar and Worthy. Bird, McHale and Parrish. Olajuwon. Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars. Sure, there have always been Steve Kerr, Michael Cooper, Byron Scott, Danny Ainge, Vinny Johnson and Bill Lambier. Horry and Dennis Rodman turned the trick several times.

Role players have their part. Hence, the name. But the No. 4 option from another team does not translate into a twice as good No. 8 option on your team. Even if you do slip him a fistfull of talents to cut his minutes and manhood in half. The commutative law of addition does not apply. The whole is not equal to the sum of its parts.

You do not beat Shaq by sending several boys to do a man's job. There isn't a center in the league who can, could or ever will be able to.

The way to beat the Lakers is the same way the Lakers are beating you.

If Shaq is going to score 30 a game while bouncing your center, backup big man and power forward before sprinkling salt on your small forward, then Chris Webber has to do the same thing to Walker, Horry and Stanislov Medvedenko.

He has to punish the Lakers at their weak point, possession after possession, until Shaq is forced out of his matchup. That's how runs are made, games won and rings fitted.

Championships are claimed by Kings . . . not for having the title stitched on your jersey because the city that used to house your franchise thought it was cute.

Make no mistake about it. Mike Bibby was Sacramento's go-to guy last season in the Western Conference Finals. In fact, I recollect Divac taking more big shots in his King tenure than Webber ever has. Now comes the math. Shaq shooting from five feet or Bibby from 20 with Bonds up next and Faulk in the flat.

The reason the 2000 Blazers could not put together a game-winning shot for an entire quarter was because no one on their team was ever given the trust to do so. He'll do it. No, he'll do it. No . . .

O'Neal and Bryant are not going to be beat by the likes of Keon Clark or Rashard Lewis or whoever else happens to be on that free agent list. Tim Duncan, Webber, Kevin Garnett, Allen Iverson or Tracy McGrady are going to have to do it, themselves.

The King is dead. Long live the King.

Several C's on a report card never added up to a single A. A thick coupon book from McDonald's isn't worth a single double-double from In-N-Out. As a matter of fact, you keep feeding me chocolate and pretty soon I'll kill for gruel.

Too many forwards has spoiled Rasheed Wallace. It could do the same for Webber. Del Harris was fired and Ron Harper re-hired. Less is more. Remember when the Atlanta Hawks, a team with Dominique WIlkins, Moses Malone and Doc Rivers, threw a lot of money at reserve center Jon Konkack just so the Detroit Pistons wouldn't sign him.

Motown would finish with back-to-back titles.

Adding Jeff McInnis and Antonio Daniels to a lineup already featuring Stoudamire, Derek Anderson and Wells isn't any different than yelling fire in a crowded theater.

Shelling out more money for a power forward position already manned by a player making more than $100M may not sit too well with the point guard being told his team is worried about the luxury tax so he can't have that new contract it has promised him all along.

Rotisserie leagues have always been fun. But this isn't paper, rock, scissors.

Media guides do not win championships.

08-21-2002, 05:22 PM

08-21-2002, 06:46 PM
about 1/3 of the way through it I wondered the same thing.

08-21-2002, 07:21 PM
Lvubun1, good post. It makes you think. Your logic follows what has occured over the past few years. Also Kings did not use a 10 or 12 man rotation this year, why will Rick A. change now?

Hell, Lakers can coast through the regular season and hit the play offs from any position and win again. And to your point, they ARE basically a two man show, with alot of role players helping them along.

08-22-2002, 04:33 AM
What do you mean source? That is my work. Seriously it was stolen off of ESPN Insider


If anybody else has it.

08-22-2002, 07:59 AM