Posted: Thursday May 18, 2006 11:55AM; Updated: Thursday May 18, 2006 2:02PM
But in Phoenix, Denise Bell may have provided the mother of all mother moments. Prompted by Kobe Bryant's crack a few days earlier that her son, Suns guard Raja Bell, "wasn't hugged enough as a kid," she showed up in the media room after the Lakers' Game 7 first-round loss and waited for Bryant to enter. "Hey, Kobe," Denise called. "Need a hug?" -- C.B.
6. Breakout performers
Kirk Hinrich, Chicago (20.5 ppg, 7.7 apg): The third year combo guard established himself on both sides of the ball, captaining the Bulls offense while sticking to Miami guard Dwyane Wade like Velcro. One question: why can't USA basketball use a player like Hinrich?
Kevin Martin, Sacramento (13.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg):Bonzi Wells is a free agent and the emergence of Martin may be the reason Sacramento lets him go. Martin's increase in minutes paid dividends when the lanky guard poured in 26 points in Sacramento's Game 3 win over San Antonio.
Nenad Krstic, New Jersey (14.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg):Shaquille O'Neal isn't done but when he is Krstic is ready to assume the role of the East's dominant center. The 7-foot Serbian continues to be deadly from the perimeter and his scoring and rebounding numbers ticked up in the postseason. The only chink in Krstic's armor is his decision to return home to play for the national team this summer; an offseason spent in the weight room with Nets coach Rich Dalatri would do Krstic wonders.
Devin Harris, Dallas (10.3 ppg, 2.0 apg): Quick question: in five years who would you rather have on your team, Harris or Tony Parker? At the least it's a tough call. Harris is a one-man fast break for the Mavericks and is shining when the spotlight is brightest: He's averaging 16.3 points against San Antonio.
Shaun Livingston, L.A. Clippers (7.2 ppg, 5.0 apg, 4.9 rpg): The best L.A. point guard since Magic? Livingston may be the answer to Billy Crystal's prayers, a dynamic playmaker with the potential to score from anywhere on the floor. Defensively, Livingston has guarded everyone from Shawn Marion to two-time MVP Steve Nash. Sam Cassell may be the Clippers present but there is no question Livingston is the future. -- Chris Mannix
7. The passion of Gilbert Arenas
It's a little before midnight when Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas enters the practice facility at Washington's Verizon Center. Tossing aside his gray sweat suit, he walks to the right baseline and puts up a shot. Swish. Collecting his own rebound he takes a step to his left and fires again. Swish. Slowly, he makes his way toward the foul line ... and stops shooting. Not yet, he says to himself. "I'm protesting the free throw line," says Arenas. "I'm disappointed in it. I want the free throw line to know, 'Hey, I'm not happy with you right now.'"