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1:40 AM ET, 5/05/06

Lakers-Suns: Game 6 pregame

Posted by Arash Markazi
Phil Jackson
Phil Jackson was open about his exchange with Raja Bell, but how does he wear that ring all game?
Some pregame sights and sounds from Game 6 between the Lakers and Suns at the Stapler.

- Before the game I asked Phil Jackson about getting into it with Raja Bell in Game 5 after Bell said Jackson shouted that "he f'ing deserved it," in regards to the foul he got from Kobe Bryant earlier in the game. "Well, I didn't use the F-word," said Jackson with a wry smile. "I didn't do that. When he was complaining to the official about [the foul] I told him that I don't know how you get away with most of your fouls and I don't know how Kobe hasn't knocked you down before because he is hanging all over him. I wasn't directly taking a jab at him but I basically told him to stop complaining because he gets away with a lot of stuff."

- Speaking of Jax, after talking to him about the cumbersome championship ring he wears this time of year earlier in the series, I got to try on one of the gaudy pieces of jewelry thanks to a kind member of the Lakers' PR department. After wearing it for less than a minute, I'm not sure how anyone could comfortably wear that for an entire game, let alone coach with it on their pinky.

- This isn't so much a knock against the Lakers as it is a matter of fact. There is not a worse pregame locker room scene in the league in terms of interacting with players. It's as if the Lakers know when the press can come in and when they have to leave, and the chances of finding anyone in there during that time is slim and none. Sure, Kobe might walk from the training room to the player's lounge, but that's it. That was different two years ago when Karl Malone used to hold court before every game and Gary Payton might chime in from time to time, but those days seem like forever ago as guys like Brian Cook and Sasha Vujacic handle their ticket arrangements while reporters hang around and twiddle their thumbs in case something happens.

- The Suns locker room, as usual, was pretty lively with Nash dribbling a basketball on his feet before running out for pregame warmups, Brian Grant doing calisthenics in the middle of the room and Eddie House prepping everyone on the upcoming Oscar De La Hoya-Ricardo Mayorga fight this Saturday. "It's going to be crazy," said House, shadow boxing and hitting Boris Diaw, who was trying to stretch on a medicine ball. "OK," said Diaw. "I get it."

Looking around the room, it was a symbolic sight to see Raja Bell's locker still in place, complete with nameplate, jersey, shorts, shoes and socks, even though he was suspended for the road game. The sentimental area went untouched until Amare Stoudemire walked in with his GQ brown suit and a bag of McDonald's and sat down at Bell's locker for his pregame meal. As he quickly devoured his quarter pounder with cheese and fries, I asked if this is his normal pregame meal. "No way," he said, wiping his mouth. "I can eat this since I'm not playing." Dijon Thompson, also inactive, sitting next to him, eating a hot dog and fries, nodded his head in agreement. "If we were back in Phoenix and I was playing, I might grab a Chicken Parmesan from Stoudemire's Downtown." OK, STAT, you got your plug in.

- During warmups, I grabbed a courtside seat next to arguably the funniest man on the planet, Larry David, who was enjoying a chicken sandwich as he watched Steve Nash practice free throws. "This is still a Lakers town," said David. "I actually go to both Lakers and Clippers games, but the Lakers crowd seems to get a little more excited." As he was greeted by Kevin Dillon, I asked the Curb Your Enthusiasm star if the Lakers were still the hottest ticket in town. "Probably," he said. "If you don't know anything about basketball and want to be seen, you'll go to a Lakers game."

As I sat next to David in a seat that would be worth over $2,000 if I continued to sit in it for another 20 minutes, I took a look at a menu given to me by the in-seat dining waitress. Acting as if I belonged, I asked what was good and she recommended the sushi plate and the margarita, which would have cost me $30. I was going to say that's a pricey meal, but the absurdity of complaining about a $30 tab while sitting in a $2,300 seat quickly hit me. So instead, I went the Stoudemire rout and got some McDonald's from the Staples concourse instead.

- A classic exchange between a future NBA draft pick and an advisor prior to the game. (The names will be withheld to protect the parties involved.)

Advisor: So are you seeing anyone these days? Player: Yeah, kind of. Advisor: Well, you know that's going to end. I mean you can eventually go back to her, you know, because she was there before the money, but you have to have your fun, at least for a year. Get it out of your system, Player: Yeah, that's what I've heard.

I wish I had an advisor to give me that kind of "advice" when I was coming out of college.

- Obligatory Celebrity Report: Jack Nicholson getting in a referee's ear to the amusement of Mike D'Antoni in the first half, Denzel Washington giving Mary J. Blige a hug on the court before the game, Don Magic Juan, in a loud green pimp suit and blinged out goblet sitting one row behind the other Magic, Magic Johnson and Dyan Cannon and Bill Russell and Walt "Clyde" Frazer, looking classy in their suits, sitting ten rows behind Paul Stanley, sans his KISS makeup. Terrell Owens wearing a white Bryant jersey 72 hours after cheering for the Clippers from the same seat. Stop pulling a Penny Marshall, T.O., pick a team already.

That's it for now. Thoughts on the game and post game sights and sounds will be up first thing the morning.


Posted: 5:45 AM   by miceail
yo arash, i like your style of writing. you definitely bring out the aspects that are more interesting, with that behind the scenes feel more than those other dudes. keep doing what you are doing.
Posted: 9:06 AM   by Anonymous
I didn't realize Kobe was such a dirty player. I read the statements made by Raja Bell regarding Kobe's elbowing and thought that it was over-stated to make up for the clothesline he threw. I couldn't help but laugh outloud this morning when it mentioned Barbosa needing 4 stitches for an 'accidental' elbow from Kobe. I have to hate him more now.
Posted: 10:53 AM   by Anonymous
Any athlete that eats McDonald's is inexcusable. Next time you see Amare, tell him a kid who knows his nutrition said this is probably the reason he was always so tired when he first returned to playing earlier during the regular season.

McDonald's is about the worst food anyone can eat, injured or otherwise. Tell him to go to In-n-Out or something next time, or at least try to eat healthy and work out another part of his body to keep in shape. Adding the fat from fast foods will only cause his BMI to be worse, and make it harder to return in the best form he can return in once he's cleared to play.
Posted: 11:53 AM   by mtrain
There are two reasons the Lakers lost last night: Smush Parker and Mitch Kupchak. Smush was never mentally in the game never made himself available offensively. Late in the game instead of relying on the games best player to get him open looks, he was taking on Nash one-on-one early in the shot clock and getting rejected by Tim Thomas going the other way. Last night he had the chance to be Kobe's Paxon or Kerr, instead he was clearly the goat. As for Mitch, how does he get a free ride when instead of picking up the atheletic Thomas, he instead waits for him to be picked up by the Suns and instead adds an aging Jim Jackson---brilliant!

Everyone wants to blame Kobe on the loss---he's the superstar. But these Lakers are not a very good team. This team is severely flawed, they just happened to win 3 games in the series and that's an accomplishment. Instead of talkin about the heartbreak of the Lakers coming so close and losing, let's acknowledge the accomplishment of making the playoffs and extending the series to 7 games. They have to go down as one of the worst teams to ever extend a 7 game series against a team with a top 4 record in the entire NBA.
Posted: 1:09 PM   by Anonymous
I love this series. Two teams playing inspired basketball and Nash and Kobe at their best.

There has definitely been an officiating tilt towards the Lakers but props to Phoenix for working through it and from being down 3-1. Should be a great game 7.

As far as Phil's comments about the Raja exchange - Phil is the biggest bs artist in basketball. Did he really have time to say all that during the game? I bet you could find footage of him saying exactly what Raja said he did. But a good coach knows how to work the refs and media. I would hope that he would want to win without any help though. Just let them play and shut up.
Posted: 3:27 PM   by Anonymous
Let's hope that the Lakers can summon the courage and energy needed to make "third time's the charm" come true and close out their THIRD try at winning this series. I hope Phil can muster up some magic fairy dust to sprinkle on his players who have played so well for 99% of the game (and beyond initial expectations) but then let two games slip away.
Posted: 8:16 PM   by Anonymous
Kobe is one of the dirtiest players ever in basketball. Review the three games before he got his flagrant foul in the regular season. He clocked Wade and Nowitski in the previous two games. He should be suspended for the 7th game.
Posted: 1:22 AM   by Anonymous
As for Mitch, how does he get a free ride when instead of picking up the atheletic Thomas, he instead waits for him to be picked up by the Suns and instead adds an aging Jim Jackson---brilliant!
I agree. Jim Jackson is useless. Ha.
Posted: 7:31 PM   by Anonymous
Did any one notice how noone on the Lakers came to Kobe's rescue after being trashed by Raja? I guess its hard to step up for a guy that yells at you for not pssing him the ball eh?