Tuesday, May 07, 2002

I HEART BASKETBALL: Bob Ryan on Mavs-Kings:

What basketball fan wouldn't want to watch Dallas and Sacramento battle for seven games? This will be San Antonio-Denver, circa 1985, with both teams actually approaching the series with an eye toward outscoring the other guy. What a novel concept! God bless Don Nelson and Rick Adelman, a pair of retro coaches who are actually allowing their high-spirited athletes to think in terms of offense.

Wouldn't it be great if one of these teams actually won it all? We haven't had a truly enjoyable champion since the 1988 ''Showtime'' Lakers, a team directed by some guy named Pat Riley and choreographed by Magic Johnson. I wonder if this Riley fellow in Miami is related to the one who used to coach in LA? He certainly has no professional similarities.

But if either Dallas or Sacramento manages to defeat the Lakers, and then takes out whichever outgunned Eastern Conference team that happens to show up, people would pay attention. Sports are incessantly derivative. For 13 years, the winning formula has been to concentrate 80 percent to 90 percent of your energy on defense while trying not to make too many mistakes on offense. Dallas and Sacramento do it the old-fashioned way: They want to blow you out of the gym. If one of them wins, people will fall in step. That's a lock. And we will be the beneficiaries.

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