24th Edition – June 19, 2004
Guess where I went the other day? The birthplace of Showtime: The Great Western Forum, where transition basketball was played at its best. Where no look passes and behind the back dribbles were not only customary, but necessary. Well, at least that’s how Magic made it seem. But ever since the Lakers left for Staples, there’s been no reason for me to go back. They don’t play ball there anymore.
That is until the other day.
The And 1 Mixtape Tour 2004 blew into town and setup shop at The Forum. So being the basketball junkie that I am, I went to check it out. And what an interesting experience it was. A basketball court was mounted outside in the parking lot to hold the preliminary rounds. The atmosphere was live and intense. Kids of all ages and different backgrounds came out to compete for the privilege to join Team LA and run against Hot Sauce, Main Event, AO, Escalade, Alimoe, the Professor and the rest of And 1 squad inside the arena.
But first they had to prove their worth amongst each other in a series of quickie 5-on-5 games. From there, the individuals who were able to show their skills in a short amount of time were chosen to participate in the final round. And if they impressed the judges (And 1 players) after that, were granted the opportunity to play in the big game and compete for a spot on the tour.
Initially, I was unimpressed by what the LA ballers had to offer. Everyone who played tried every trick move in the book, and for the most part they didn’t turn out too well. There were so many turnovers, sloppy moves, and missed dunks, I wondered how the judges could sift through the awful play to find the guys who were good enough to form an opposing team. However, despite the sour play, it was fun to watch people do whatever it took to make their dreams tangible.
Anyway, following the pre-show, it was time to enter the building where the main attraction was about to take place. After I took my seat, I thought to myself, this is going to be brutal. Yet five minutes into the first half, I realized that I was in for a game. Team LA came out blazin’. Led by Spinmaster and Father Time, the underdogs imposed their will on the And 1 crew. With their swarming defense and precise offense, Team LA overwhelmed their opponents and took a 59-44 lead at the half. The crowd was frantic as they cheered on their native representatives who limited their trick plays for more conventional basketball.
As the action continued, the levels of play intensified. Aware of their opponents desire to win, Team And 1 mounted a furious comeback. Led by Waliyy Dixon aka “Main Event”, I assumed it was only a matter of time before And 1 would apply the knockout blow to the upstarts from LA. It didn’t happen. Team LA persevered and composed themselves to a 99-86 victory, pleasantly stunning the crowd and myself.
In the end, DeShun Jackson aka “Father Time” proved to be the star among stars and was invited to join the tour and compete for his spot until he proves that he’s worthy to become an official member of the squad at the end of the tour later this summer. Jackson, 24 was overwhelmed with excitement stating, “I’m happy to take advantage of such a great opportunity. It’s nice to achieve something.”
And it was equally pleasant to witness guys coming together for one purpose, and that was to win. It was evident that each member of Team LA wanted to be chosen for the open spot, but they never allowed their personal goals to contaminate the integrity of the unit. It was as if they said, “Let’s get ’em!” “And whoever gets invited, gets invited.” It was refreshing to see. Too bad the other team from LA couldn’t adopt the same principles.
The Detroit Pistons just altered the space-time continuum.
No Eastern Conference was supposed to win the Glory. But they did.
No team without a bonafide superstar could win the Glory. But they did.
No team who STRUGGLES to crack the 80-point barrier could win the Glory. But they did.
No team, especially one east of the Mississippi River could beat the Lakers (much less dominate them) in a seven game series. But they did.
No team could possibly make a 36-point and 20-rebound performance by Shaq an afterthought. But they did.
No team could render Kobe Bryant ineffective 4 out of 5 games. But they did that too.
As a matter of fact, the World Champs (unbelievable!) did all of that and a lot more. They shook up the basketball world. No one outside of Bill Laimbeer and Max Kellerman picked the Pistons to win, but who takes those two seriously? I guess I should’ve. It was amazing to watch the Lakers die that horrible death. For five games Detroit toyed with them, bullied them, and ran them ragged. They exposed the Lakers lack of athleticism and their abundance of old age. The Lakers were so helpless it was embarrassing. I mean in the final game, Ben Wallace ACTUALLY felt comfortable enough to attempt a three pointer. Ben Wallace?! Now that’s insulting. However not as humiliating as it was for Laker fans (especially me) to watch their team ignore the very concept of how you win as a team.
Now the shows over, and the current Laker myth is gone. Players and coaches (thanks for the titles Phil) alike can go their separate ways and I can put this mess of a title run behind me. Congratulations to the Pistons for obvious reasons, and congratulations to the Lakers for being nothing more than paper champions who folded when it was time to stand.
I hope both are proud of their accomplishments.
With the upcoming draft, Tracy McGrady’s disharmony, the Lakers disbandment, and the Pistons altering of the basketball landscape, I think we’re in for one wild off-season.
After watching what took place in the NBA Finals, the San Antonio Spurs have to be KICKING THEMSELVES right now.
I guess that Darko over Carmelo pick isn’t looking too bad for the Pistons after all.
Did Gary Payton play himself out of the Hall of Fame? And if so, it’ll be the ONLY notable thing he did all season.
I don’t care what anyone says, that Detroit PA announcer is THE WORST!
After four decades of doing play by play for the Knicks, Marv Albert and the MSG Network have parted ways. Will the suffering ever end for the Knicks?
Does anyone think the Pistons can actually repeat next year?
The way folks fawned over Larry Brown over the years was borderline disgusting, but now that he’s finally led a team to the mountaintop… It’s only going to get SICKER.
Now that the season is officially over, we can focus our attention on the WNBA. On that note, I think I’ll end my rant right here.
R.I.P. Ralph Wiley and Bobbye Sloan.