Sunday, April 30, 2006
2006 Lakers = 1989 Bulls ??
The 1989 Chicago Bulls started the playoffs as a #7 seed, and drew their division rivals - the Cleveland Cavaliers. We all know what Michael Jordan did in Game 5, and these heroics by this "basketball creature from another planet" didn't stop after "The Shot". Jordan then led the Bulls past the Atlantic Division Champs - the New York Knicks - in 6 games. They won game 1 in N.Y., and were able to hang on by winning all of their home games. Next for these Bulls were the mighty Detroit Pistons, the "Bad Boys" who had the best record in the NBA that year. The Bulls, led by the 26 year-old Michael Jordan, won game 1 again. After losing game 2, they then won a thrilling game 3 behind Jordan's clutch shooting. This team, that nobody really expected much from in the postseason, had the deep and talented Pistons on the ropes. Alas, the Pistons won the next 4 games, and the Bulls playoff run was over.
This Bulls team featured an up-and-coming Scottie Pippen, who was more of a defensive player in the late 80's. It had Craig Hodges, a 3-point specialist. It also had Bill Cartwright, a veteran center who could make chaos for opposing players who drove to the lane. In other words, it didn't have the depth it did in the 90's, and relied heavily on its superstar who gave Chicago fans its first playoff excitement in team history.
The 2006 Lakers are very similiar to that team, and after seeing the 27-year old Kobe Bryant drain 2 shots in the final second today, I compared his impact to that of Jordan in '89. This Lakers team really doesn't have much around their shooting guard, except for maybe a Lamar Odom or Kwame Brown. Realistically, they are all role players in Kobe's basketball world, as the '89 Bulls were all role players to Jordan's greatnes. And this current #7 seed can - and will - ride Kobe's back as long as possible.
I see the Lakers closing out the Suns in 6 games, and then playing their cross-town rivals. The Clippers better find a way to control Kobe Bryant, because if they don't, then this Laker team might also have the deep and talented San Antonio Spurs - "on the ropes". Keep you posted, as there is more to come from the 2006 NBA playoffs.