The NBA Retro Finals: It’s Lakers in five

Bobby Curran
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Friday - June 06, 2008
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With Boston squaring off with Los Angeles, the NBA seems more than ready to deliver the Retro Finals. Hopefully, reliving the Celtics-Lakers rivalry of the ‘80s will not include breaking out the short pants.

But the basketball ought to be excellent. The stars will be out - both on the court and in the stands - and the ratings should be the best in years. But the games will still be steeled by match-ups, and there are some interesting possibilities.

If you’re Celtics coach Doc Rivers, what do you do with Lakers center Pau Gasol? If you put Kevin Garnett on him, you run the risk of foul trouble. If you go with Kendrick Perkins, you could be allowing Gasol to get off early.

And how to play Kobe Bryant? Nobody is going to stop this year’s MVP, but Rivers needs to find some combination that forces Bryant to work for his points.

As for Lakers coach Phil Jackson, preventing the Celtics big three - Garnett, Pierce and Allen - from having big games on the same night has to be the first order of business.

The anachronistic 2-3-2 travel schedule is a sword that cuts both ways. If the Lakers split at Boston, it’s a huge advantage for L.A. But if the Celtics hold serve at home, the guarantee is they get to finish the series at home. There was a time when teams flew commercial that you could make a case for the 2-3-2, but with charter jets providing comfort and convenience, it makes sense to go back to the 2-2-1-1-1 format used elsewhere in the playoffs. Unlike the Eastern Conference finals, where a ticket could be had in Detroit on game day for $25, expect seats to go for top dollar in this series despite the grim economy. The league would love this series to go seven, but I don’t see it. Just too much Kobe. I’m picking the Lakers in five.

The announcement that UH will take over some of the premium parking spaces at Aloha Stadium seems right in keeping with the scaled house theory. Those willing to pay the large dollars for premium seats will get the right to shell out still more for premium parking. Those looking for a bargain can seek out less-desirable seating areas and family package rates. With expenses rising, this may be the best possible solution to raise revenues for UH athletics.

Last week Manny Ramirez hit home run No. 500, putting him into fairly exclusive company. As we go to press, Ken Griffy Jr. is poised to hit No. 600. Both players will surely end up in the Hall of Fame. While everyone seems to agree on the merits of Griffey, someone remarked that Ramirez is one-dimensional. Yeah, but that dimension is pretty special. I’d be hard-pressed to find a better pure hitter in the last two decades.

And just think how entertaining his acceptance speech at Cooperstown is likely to be.

Americans ought not to complain if China surpasses the U.S. in the gold medal count in Beijing’s Summer Olympics. The Chinese have poured millions into Olympic training, concentrating on sports with lots of medal opportunities. Rowing offers 14 events, and China has built the most advanced training facility in the world, bought up the top coaches and works the athletes seven days a week year-round. I’m not saying the U.S should take that approach, but don’t be surprised if it appears the Chinese are camping out on the medal stand.

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