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12:37 AM ET, 5/07/06

Thoughts after Suns-Lakers Game 7

Posted by Arash Markazi
A six-pack of thoughts from the Suns 121-90 win over the Lakers in Game 7:

1. So much for that "Hallway Series" everyone in Los Angeles had been planning for. The way the media in Los Angeles were talking about the series last week, you would have thought the Suns were the seventh seed and the Lakers were the No. 2 seed. When the Lakers were up 3-1 in the series, anyone who thought it was only a matter of time before the Lakers won this thing wasn't watching the games. The Lakers were fortunate to win Games 2 and 3, with both games coming down to the final seconds, and everyone knows the Lakers pulled a minor miracle in winning Game 4. I'll never understand why people thought it would be so improbable for the Suns to win three straight after the Lakers, who lost seven in a row to the Suns the past two years, did just that against Phoenix.

Here's the thing about being down 3-1 when you started the series with home court. Two of the next three games are on your home floor, so if you keep it cliché and take it one game at a time, you just have to win at home and find a way to steal one on the road to bring it back home. Of course that's easier said than done. But when the Suns won Game 6 Thursday in Los Angeles, you'd be hard-pressed to find a realistic Lakers fan that honestly thought their team had a chance in Game 7.

2. What a difference six days makes. Following the Lakers win over the Suns in Game 5, L.A. sports talk stations XTRA 570, ESPN 710 and The Ticket 1540 were filled with fans calling Phil Jackson a genius and comparing this Lakers squad to the teams Jackson had in Chicago with Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Kwame Brown, Smush Parker and Luke Walton taking the roles of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, B.J. Armstrong and John Paxon. Such comparisons are obviously laughable now as the Lakers are on vacation and those same talk shows are now filled with fans calling Jackson overrated and demanding that the team around Bryant to be blown up in the offseason.

3. Classic line from Doug Collins in the third quarter: "Mike D'Antoni would love to have a 20-point lead going into the fourth quarter." Um, you think? Speaking of D'Antoni, what was Steve Nash doing on the floor with a sprained ankle and limping noticeably with six minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Suns holding a 101-72 lead? It will be interesting to see how his ankle and Sam Cassell's back hold up in the next round.

4. Some people might try to make a big deal of Bryant only taking three shots for 1 point in the second half, but the Suns had a 21-point lead early in the third quarter and even if Bryant jacked up 20 more shots, it wouldn't have made a difference. In fact, the only thing he would have done had he finished with another 50-point game is fuel the convenient theory that if he scores more than 40 points the Lakers can't win, which isn't entirely true. Still, it would have been nice to see Bryant do a little more in the second half even if it would have been in a losing effort. "Did [Bryant] score in the second half?" Jackson asked after the game. "I couldn't remember him scoring, but I guess he got that illegal defense free throw." What was more upsetting than his second-half performance was watching Bryant walk off the court after the game instead of congratulating the Suns players and coaches as most of his teammates did.

5. Prior to the Suns series, Jackson asked his girlfriend, Jeanie Buss, to get him clips of the new movie Inside Man so he could splice it up with game tape in preparation for the Suns series. His point was that the play of inside men Brown, Odom and Walton would be key to the series since the Suns don't really have an inside presence. That will be a point Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy will no doubt be driving home to his team as well, but his front line with Elton Brand, Chris Kaman, Corey Maggette, Quentin Ross and Vladimir Radmanovic is far more imposing than Jackson's. The Clippers, who split their series with the Suns 2-2, winning the last game 119-105 at US Airways Center on April 5, have had one week to rest and prepare for the next round, while the Suns will have just 48 hours to rest up for Monday's Game 1. That said, I'm still picking the Suns to beat the Clippers in seven.

6. Finally, before we move on to the next round and Monday Night Basketball, here's a question for you guys: Was this the greatest first-round series you've ever seen? I say it was considering the heroics of Bryant and Tim Thomas in Games 4 and 6 and the physicality between the teams throughout -- highlighted by Raja Bell's clothesline of Kobe in Game 5. On and off the court, it had everything you could ask for in a classic playoff series. It is also Exhibit A why the NBA changed the first-round format to seven games instead of five. Of course, if they hadn't, the Lakers would have advanced, 3-1, into that highly anticipated "Hallway Series" last week after Bryant's shot in Game 5.


Posted: 1:35 AM   by C-Jo
I think this series ranks among the best ever in the first round, especially considering how the 2-seed in a very tough conference was down 3-1, and rallied to win it in 7 - doing so in convincing fashion. What really makes me want to say it was the best ever is that despite me not being a fan of either team, and not being that big of an NBA fan besides my hometown Bulls, I was deeply interested in this series from Game 1, and my interest never wavered throughout the series.
Posted: 2:05 AM   by Brian
Miami/New York was just as intense back in 1999. Although this series probably ranks higher since it wasn't a total eye soar.
Posted: 2:25 AM   by Anonymous
I think it was a fantastic series, one of the best. I agree with Charles Barkleys comments on Kobe's second half (essentially, he needed to be able to claim he wasn't getting help, thus not his fault). Sad to see Kobe is such a poor sport at the end of the series however. Note to Lakers fans, Shaq is still playing !!! mjg
Posted: 2:28 AM   by Anonymous
I think the greatest first round series has to be the Seattle-Denver series a number of years ago when Denver (an 8 seed) beat Seattle (a 1 seed) in 5 games. This was back in the day when first round series were only 5 games. Every game of that series was tight.

It is difficult for me to think that this was such a great series when game 7 was a blow out.
Posted: 2:29 AM   by "c@>
i think it ranks up there with the knicks-heat series back in the lockout shortened season. that series had everything. coaches draped over players legs, buzzer beaters and the number 8 seed upsetting the number 1 seed.
Posted: 2:31 AM   by Heathen Dan
I dunno if this is the best (and I am rooting for the Suns throughout the season). I thought 8th seeded Denver's 0-2 come from behind in the mid nineties was a classic (remember Dikembe lying down on the floor crying after the win?). Maybe this would be the best first round 7-game series ever.
Posted: 2:32 AM   by Brian
The Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks opening round series from 1999 was just as exciting. Maybe more so since the final game of the series was a classic instead of a drubbing.

I'd give the nod to Lakers/Suns just because it wasn't an eye soar. Knicks/Heat were always ugly.
Posted: 2:38 AM   by Anonymous
I appreciate your thoughts on the Suns / Lakers series, great action,
exciting story line. The one dimensional (Kobe) Lakers vs the TEAM (who'd of thought they'd be here without Amare) Suns. I believe the best first round series belongs to the Cavaliers / Wizards.( I'm a Nets, Vince, Jason, Richard, Nenad, Fan),
We are witnessing the emergence of a
true superstar who refuses to lose.
Posted: 2:38 AM   by Anonymous
this has to be the worst i have seen the lakers play since i can remember. i cant believe they lost to a bunch of nobodys that just jack up three balls. every single player except kobe should be traded. how can a team play so well and just give the series away. anyone can hit wide open jump shots. when you allow leandro barbosa to go 10 for 12 you dont deserve to win. so everyone enjoy the spurs vs. pistons, i look forward to next season, hopefully the lakers can get rid of the high school squad and surround kobe with some talent. i'm out. west coast.
Posted: 2:42 AM   by Anonymous
Steve nash as MVP? Please. Even though the lakers lost, as a seven seed taking a two seed to a final game seven, with bryant hitting game winners along the way, it was clear the MVP was not playing for the Suns. How can an MVP lead the league in turnovers and play no defense? You're gonna tell me Steve Nash with Luke Walton and company is going to the playoffs? You're telling me that with Boris Diaw, Matrix and barbosa Kobe isn't in the Western conference finals?
Without a bail out from TIM THOMAS (as a Knick fan this is just erroneous on so many levels), the Suns would be fishing right now.
Posted: 2:49 AM   by Tobin
I don't think it was the best EVER, however it was one of the best. Just to clarify, I think that Ny/ Miami 1st round 8 over 1 series was the best) But, nevertheless, i was looking for a back and forth series, the raja bell kobe thing was just extra, and the only thing that dissappointed me was the last game not going till the very end.
Posted: 2:59 AM   by Anonymous
Don't forget the Nuggets defeating the #1 seed Sonics in 5 games. I don't see any other series matching that one in the first round.
Posted: 3:07 AM   by Anonymous
Sorry but Clippers in 6 games!!!
Posted: 3:25 AM   by Anonymous
Hands down best series I have seen. Glad that we saw the REAL Kobe the last 3 games: arrogance, whining, and elbows. Any more arguments that Kobe is the REAL MVP (as Lakers fans like to put it)??? .... Hardly. Go Nash. Go Suns!
Posted: 3:34 AM   by Anonymous
I think the Phoenix Suns players showed a lot of class when they played the Lakers in the series. They did not allow themselves to be intimidated by the burly and famous Lakers. I wish Boris Diaw more success in his future in the NBA. He showed that one does not have to retaliate even when someone hit you, like what Kwame did to him. Raja Bell got ejected and suspended when he intentionally hit Bryant, which was really uncalled for. This Phoenix team is what young kids should emulate - that you can win without too much boasting and arrogance. I did not seem to see too much taunting and trash talking from them, although I could be wrong as I was not on the floor playing. Congrats to the Phoenix team and I hope they win them all.
Posted: 3:58 AM   by 2D
It's probably the best one *I've* ever seen, but that would be going back only three years, since that's how long I've been following the NBA. However, if nothing else, I'd say this series could be used as a classic example of team play ultimately triumphing over individual brillance. Yes, I know the Lakers also tried the team-play approach with early success, but the difference in the end was that the Suns players were *used* to making big plays in the crunch because they'd been doing it all season, while it was all new to any Lakers not named Kobe. So when the real pressure came, guys like Leandro Barbosa and Boris Diaw stepped up their games like it was second nature, whereas the non-Kobe Lakers seemed confused and unsure of themselves. Guess there's a lesson to be learned there.
Posted: 4:12 AM   by Anonymous
I think the blowouts in game 6 and 7 really hurt the claim that this series is the best 1st round series ever. Classic playoff series usually need to have a do-or-die game with a memorable finish. The first-round series that has left a permanent imprint on my mind is the Heat-Knicks playoff series in May '99. Allan Houston's game-winning shot with seconds left in the deciding Game 5 was just unbelievable. The rest of the games in that series weren't very close, but that one extraordinary moment is all that was needed to make that series great in my mind. The end to this Suns-Lakers series was too flat for it to be the best ever.
Posted: 4:28 AM   by Anonymous
This was a great series, but however exciting it was it does not justify the seven-game first-round format. If the league had gotten rid of the ridiculous seeding system that favors division champs over teams holding better records we would have seen Dallas man-handling the Lakers instead of Phoenix struggling for their groove (and fading amid the bad calls). A shorter series allows for cinderella stories, but won't sap potential contenders from performing at their peak in later rounds. Who needs to watch Detroit win four times against the Bucks instead of three? Dallas vs. Memphis--three is all they should ever need. Get real: the seven gam format is about MONEY ($$$$), not quality basketball. Don't be fooled by the great Suns Lakers series. I'd rather watch a better team get upset in five than watch seven crappy games (even if I have trouble turning off to tube)!!
Posted: 4:30 AM   by FaykePearson
Being at Game 4 at Staples center, being a Suns fan, quielty cheering for the suns thoughout the game then shedding my T-shirt at the end of the 4th to show the nose bleed section that there was a Suns fan among them and actually being able to REALLY REALLY enjoy a basketball game with TRUE fans (mostly Lakers), was a great experience. And that only happened because these athletes gave us (the Fans) 7 great games!!!
Posted: 4:53 AM   by Jacob Olgreen
This is yet another display of why Kobe will never win without Shaq. Kobe can score and come up clutch from time to time, but he will never be a truly great player.

Those trying to compare him to MJ need only look at his career shooting percentage. Enough said. When it turns into the Kobe show, he is unable to produce with enough efficiency to pull out wins like MJ did.
Posted: 4:55 AM   by Anonymous
If the Lakers are going to make some heads turn next season, it got to add a point guard who can shoot the three consistently (see bj armstrong/steve kerr type) and a big guy who's somewhat consistent on ten footers and some post-up moves (see cartwright/Luc Longley type). With the way the Lakers shot in Game 6 & 7, there is no way for Kobe and Phil to intitute the system they used in winning the earlier games, and have success with their current roster. With Clippers having success and the Suns getting back Amare and Kurt next season, it just gets harder if Lakers don't get help.
Posted: 5:21 AM   by Anonymous
My thoughts after the game? Yeah, the current roster of the Lakers did had some relative success against a small Phoenix team in the earlier games, but if they want to be competitive in a very fierce division next season, they've got to add some weapons. Keepers besides Kobe are Odom, Sasha, Turiaf, Cook and Walton. I really don't think Smush can cut it being the starter after hitting bricks the last 3 games, and Brown, even with some improvement, just can't handle the ball (small hands) and can't even hit on those gimme three footer hooks. Kobe is in his prime, and it would be foolish for Mitch Kupchak not to give him proper support.
Posted: 5:27 AM   by Anonymous
This series was a between the Suns and Lakers was great. I think the better team did win but at a cost. This series did go 7 games and Steve Nash is banged up and the rest is the Suns will be fatigued. The Clipper have a bigger frontcourt and they will use that against the Suns like they did against the Nuggets. I say the Clips win in 6
Posted: 5:30 AM   by Anonymous
i think it was a great series, but i think the seattle-denver 1-8 series where denver won was a better series 12 years ago.

mostly because the underdog won.

but this one is up there.
Posted: 6:01 AM   by Anonymous
Greatest first-round series ever? It wasn't even the greatest first-round series this season. That distinction goes to the Wizards-Cavaliers. The Arenas-James mano-a-mano, late game heroics and buzzer beaters had me on my feet and the end of every game.
Posted: 6:10 AM   by Anonymous
This wasn't even the best first round series this year. The Cleveland-Washington games were far more entertaining. Lebron and Arenas were playing at an amazingly high level throughout. I think Arenas proved he belongs in the "elite player" discussions, and Lebron proved why he should have been the MVP.
Posted: 6:50 AM   by Anonymous
A bad luck for Lakers. Not this time.
I hope there'll be changes in offseason...
Posted: 6:56 AM   by Milo Riano
That was heartbreaker for me since I am a big Kobe fan. It could made my argument much easier if they have won. Sheeesh. We'll come back again next year. :)
Posted: 7:02 AM   by Marino
1) Exhibit A for why the NBA changed the first round from five to seven would have been if they trotted a group of TV executives out onto the court to do a slip'n'slide lined from end to end with cash.

That being said, this series, and this year in general did a nice job showcasing the positive aspects of a longer first round: Good series get longer and teams that worked hard for the better record during the regular season aren't bounced as easily. Unfortuantely, this also gives rise to..

2) Game sevens, including last night's game, that are blowouts because matchups in the first round are so uneven and the better team can assert itself so dominantly after six games. Since the first round went to seven games, nine of the ten game seven's played have had double-digit final margins, leaving the classic 2004 85-77 Heat win over New Orleans as the sole close one (wait a minute, what's that you say, no one remembers this game? The average reader's first reaction to seeing this score is, "oh yeah, New Orleans used to be in the East"?)

So you can call this the best seven-game first round series ever if you want, because it featured a comeback and some bad blood, and I don't think anyone will argue with you, considering how painfully boring most first-round matchups have been since they went to seven. The best first-round series ever? I don't think this really compares to MJ, the Cavs and "The Shot," or either of the 8-over-1 upsets.
Posted: 7:51 AM   by Anonymous
Yeah, it was a great series. You can't have a great series and great heroics without a great villain, who in this case was Kobe. And it affirmed that this is a team sport, won by teams over individuals, no matter how high and mighty.
Posted: 8:18 AM   by Anonymous
first of all, this series was not that sweet. second of all, the cavs-wizards series was way better. Never before has a playoff team lost three games by one point.
Posted: 8:32 AM   by Holsti97
This series was certainly enjoyable to watch, but in order for it to be one of the greatest series ever it needed a GREAT Game 7. I switched to the Discovery Channel in the 3rd quarter.
While it may be the best opening round series since the NBA switched to a best-of-seven format, for my money, the Denver Nuggets upsetting of The Sonics team lead by Kemp and Payton was the most memorable opening round series.
Posted: 9:25 AM   by Anonymous

Talk about a game 7 drama

In France we waited until 2h30 a.m to see a game with some suspence, interest and passion...We just saw a layup clinic. Barbosa and Bell were driving in a paint as empty as arizona desert. Kwame lost his fingers before the game and Kobe , the lakers "clutch player" didn't seems to be really interested in the second half. I thought Seattle had the worst defense in the league but what we saw tonight couldn't even be called defense.
Posted: 9:33 AM   by Anonymous
Absolutely one of the best first round series ever. Did not really get interested in the series until the Kobe/Raja thing happened, and then couldn't turn away. Was about to go to bed Thursday night, and then Thomas hits the 3 and suddenly I don't go to bed for another hour. Great series.
Posted: 9:44 AM   by Ionart
Greatest first round series ever? I don't even think it was the greatest first round series this year! So what, you had the Kobe tackle, and it went 7 games. Did you see the Cleveland-Washington series...
Posted: 9:51 AM   by Manny J
I have something to say about Bryant. Bell said it correctly. What a courage for him to speak and stand-up in behalf of the blue collar and less heralded (and sneered at) NBA players against some spoiled superstars (getting special treatment from league officials). But even so, it was still generous for him (Bell) to come up with those words. I'm an NBA fan here in the philippines for almost 30 years and i followed Bryant's play and demeanor on and off the court. There is no question about his skill as an individual but about his attitude we have all seen it. Perhaps, if he thinks he is the best baskeeter around, then, maybe he has to create a league of his own us he will be king and be more untouchable than he is in the NBA.
Posted: 10:17 AM   by etc
It's hard to see Kobe's second half as anything but one giant pout. He HAD to know his team needed his offense at that point - they needed him to light it up and hope the Suns panicked - but he let his teammates falter and stumble against the better team while he made his point. The most selfish display since Achilles sitting in his tent. And the sad thing is people will blame coach and teammates, and Kobe will look important and misunderstood. And if you think I'm wrong - can you imagine Michael Jordan sacrificing his team like that?
Posted: 10:26 AM   by John14_6
I am a Laker fan, and I agree that once the Suns got into their run and gun offense, it would be very difficult for Kobe and "the other four" to steal another game on the road. However, I feel the best 1st round series was 1994 when the # 8 seed Denver Nuggets came back from a 0-2 start to defeat the # 1 Seattle Supersonics by winning the next 3 games (5-game series). The last two went into overtime, and I still remember D. Mutombo grabbing the defensive rebound and rolling on the floor with tremendous emotion. If game 7 would have been closer, say like game 4 or 6, then I would have placed this latest series among the best 1st rounds.
Posted: 10:29 AM   by etc
It's hard to understand Kobe's second half as anything but one long pout. This was WAY beyond following the game plan - he simply disappeared. Kobe HAD to know his team needed his offense at that point - they needed him to light it up and hope the Suns panicked - but he let his teammates falter and stumble against the better team to make his point. One point in the second half? The most selfish, childish display since Achilles in his tent. So Kobe can nurse his legend while Jackson and the players take the blame. And if you think I'm wrong - can you imagine Michael Jordan sacrificing his team like that? Meanwhile the Suns, who pursued Nash instead of Bryant, are thanking their lucky stars as they live to play team-oriented basketball at the next level.
Posted: 10:39 AM   by michael
It is also Exhibit A why the NBA changed the first-round format to seven games instead of five.

C'mon. They changed the 1st round format to seven games, what, 15 years ago? And how many of those series could have just as easily been played in five games??? I'd wager most of them.

This series was the exception to the rule. And as a Suns fan... I ain't complaining any longer about the seven game series in the first round!

Here's a question: who was the MVP of the series? Besides Nash... I would have to make a hard choice between Diaw and Tim Thomas. I'll say Diaw but catch me on another day and I'd say Thomas. Without his clutch 3 pointers in Game 5, this series would have been over.
Posted: 10:49 AM   by Kasper
The fact that Kobe just leaves the court after losing shows his class (or lack thereof). This in itself shows that you cannot compare this Lakers team, with a Jordan-led Bulls team. I don't recall Michael pouting off the court after a loss, and he is just as competitive as Kobe. It takes a true champ to be humble when you win and gracious when you lose. The series was great though... loved every minute (except of course when my team lost 3 games).
Posted: 11:11 AM   by Bryan Schools
knicks-heat in '99, now that is one for the ages. not kobe versus an overrated squad.
Posted: 11:17 AM   by Anonymous
I feel that Kobe's greediness and selfishness lead to the Lakers demise. Only once in this series did he pass and include his teammates in the series but it was a bit late. His showboating throughout the season, his attitude, and "off court" escapades will prevent the Lakers from being what they once were. Furtehrmore, his refusal to congratulate the Suns after the final game showed his true character.
Posted: 11:27 AM   by Anonymous
The 1994 Nuggets-Sonics first round series was better than this one. Game 5 went to overtime (as opposed to the Suns' blowout of the Lakers in game 5 of this series). You had Payton, Kemp, and a Sonics team with a gaudy record, and you had a bunch of youg guys on the Nuggets (Mutombo, LaPhonso Ellis, Bryant Stith) who pulled off the first ever 8-over-1 upset.
Posted: 11:37 AM   by rocketrebel
This is one of the best series ever. I say that because of how it played out for a punk like Kobe. He starts off by saying that he doesn't even know who Raja is and then he says he can score on him whenever he wants. Well first of all if Kobe wants to know who Raja is then he can pay attention when he is at how watching the next round on TV, and if Kobe can score on him whenever he wants then maybe scoring in the second half of game seven would have been a good idea. I guess he just didn't want to score on him he would rather get ran out the building. If he really is the best player in the game he wouldn't have disappeared in a game seven of a playoff game like he did. I just love when cocky punks get their shorts handed to them that is why this is the best series ever.
Posted: 11:40 AM   by Lawrence
I don't even think it was the best series of this round. That would be Cavs-Wizards. One of the best one-on-one matchups of all time in James and Arenas, capped with James two game winners and Arenas' 30 footer to send Game 6 into OT. Two games in OT, all sorts of offense, and two of the best scorers in the league make this the best series
Posted: 11:43 AM   by dave
This was a great first round series. However, the absolute greatest first round series of all time was difinetly Knicks/Heat, 1999. Just in terms of sheer hate between the two teams, that was the most intense rivalry in the four major sports of the modern era. Obviously, it had a serious underdog, as the knicks were the eighth seed that year. Bot teams had two players who were just ridiculously intense on the court (Ewing and Sprewell, and then Zo and Hardaway.) The Heat coach, Riley, had previously dumped the Knicks. Zo and Ewing were friends off the court. The subplots go on and on and on. And then, of course, you had Houston's crazy miracle gave 5 game winner. That series was just amazing, had all the elements. It was the greatest ever.
Posted: 11:45 AM   by Anonymous
The "we hate LA" chant has been rekindled in Phoenix!

Has Phil Jackson ever won a playoff series without Shaq or Jordan?

Has Kobe ever won a playoff series without Shaq?

Phil is over-rated and it is easy to hate Kobe.

One of the greatest playoff series ever ranking with the 3 straight wins over the Lakers by the Suns a few years ago and the old Lakers/Celtics battles!

The MVP competition between Kobe and Steve Nash goes to the one who can guide his team to win a playoff series. Steve ROCKS!

Next year, when the Suns have Amare and Kurt Thomas back, WATCH OUT!!!
Posted: 11:56 AM   by Anonymous
No matter how dramatic the first 6 games are, no series is the best ever when the final game is won by 30 points
Posted: 11:59 AM   by Anonymous
I can't believe any decent person liking Kobe?

Didn't he say something to the effect that "he can get any point any time with this team". If he could, then we would not have overtime in game 6. What is worse is his constant elbow and his selfishness. 1 point in second half! How selfish can he get? Walking off without greeting the Suns at the end of the game. I think Lakers should hire a pre-school teacher to teach him some manners.

A California resident and never will be Lakers fan as long as Kobe in part of it.
Posted: 12:03 PM   by Anonymous
As a legitimately disgruntled Lakers fan I have to say this was by far one of the best if not the best 1st round series ever. As far as blowing up the team around Kobe goes, they definately need to get rid of Kwame Brown. Granted he had some quality minutes this season and post-season, but he is a punk who thinks he is far better than he actually is. This next comment may not be a popular one but maybe Kobe should have been forced out and Shaq had stayed around. Just a theory.
Posted: 12:13 PM   by Ben
I think though it did have a game 7 a case can be made that the Cavs Wizards series was the best one so far this year. It had the pure dominance of Lebron and Arenas, close games, and last second shots. The last two games a lone were decided by one point in overtime on buzzer beaters.
Posted: 12:14 PM   by Anonymous
Very good series, but without a cliff hanger Game 7 no way can it be one of the best ever.
Posted: 12:16 PM   by Anonymous
This was a great series, and very entertaining to watch. Am I alone though in thinking this wansnt the best first round series ever...in fact not even the best first round series this year. I had more fun watching the cavs put away the wiz with 3 wins by a combined 3 points, and watching bron bron get two game winnners.
Posted: 12:33 PM   by sdot76059
In all fairness, this series featured two blowouts, a game four in which the refs had as much a say as any player on either team. Was it an entertaining series? Sure, but it wasn't even the best series of this year's playoffs, that distinction belongs to Cavs-Wiz. Any questions about whether Lebron has arrived have been answered, Arenas has made himself the best two guard in the East, better than Iverson, and at this point better than Wade, (remember he's more durable and he doesn't play with Shaq) Lakers-Suns was fun but as far as being the best ever...I think not.
Posted: 12:35 PM   by Anonymous
This is the reason I personally hate the 7 game first round concept...I'm sure its great for the NBA's pockets, but there are going to be less upsets due to the fact the top seeds get to stumble in the series and still get their act together to pull it out. Upsets is what makes the NCAAs cool to me. There's the factor of the unknown and the games seem a little more high strung.

Who remembers how cool it was for the Nuggets with Mutumbo to win as an 8 seed? Is that gonna happen again? Less likely.
Posted: 12:50 PM   by walkoffblast
How can a series with such an anticlimatic game 7 be the best ever? I am not buying it.
Posted: 12:57 PM   by Anonymous
Anytime a series goes 7 games it usually means it was a good one. Phoenix showed some real heart in this series that as a life long Suns fan I haven't seen...well, since 93' first round series with the Lakers when they were down 0-2 to another inferior Lakers team. Best of all this series showed Kobe is no Michael Jordan. (though is is really, really good)
Posted: 1:00 PM   by Anonymous
I've been a fan of the Lakers for the last 20 years, and have to say Phil Jackson did an incredible job w/ this team...but what is the problem w/ his defensive schemes. Everyone is talking about Kobe not shooting or Kwame not making, but the real problem was the switches made that put Smush Parker on the Suns' big men. That killed the Lakers and if Phil Jackson is such a genius, he should have come up w/ another scheme after seeing this for 7 straight games. The Lakers need more talent and it is a wonder they got as far as they did starting people like Smush Parker and Luke Walton.
Posted: 1:22 PM   by Dellis
It was a good series no doubt, but best ever? Please. Neither team is a serious title contender. Everyone and his mom knows that either the Spurs or Mavericks are going to come out of the West, with the Clippers a dark, dark horse. The Suns are a fun offensive team, but have no size of consequence sans Amare, and the Lakers are a well-coached, overachieving team with bottom 5 starters in the NBA at the 1, 3, and 5. It was a fun series because of the star power, the MVP intrigue, the Raja/Kobe WWF moments, and you never know what Kobe will do next, but best ever? Please.
Posted: 1:39 PM   by santos
Are you kidding? Game 7 ended as a 30 point blowout. I don't even think this was the best series of these playoffs... I enjoyed Cavs-Wiz more.
Posted: 2:10 PM   by Anonymous
exciting series but a bit tainted by bell and kobe.Bells behavior I can understand to some extent;he lost his temper tried to send a message but did it all wrong.Kobe and jackson got what they wanted from the situatuion,bell gone.Kobes behavior at the very end goes completly without excuss.He walks off the court without so much as a handshake or congratulations.Sorry but when its all said and done this is entertainment and your all men and colegues>MAny people watch esp kids.grow up kobe!!! Be a man and put aside your anger;the suns played their game and you lost, so what??Youll have another chance to play but how many to be a gentleman?
Posted: 2:10 PM   by Geekster
Are you kidding? I thought you were worth reading until that last paragraph. Why does everything have to be the "best ever" - it was an interesting series - the last game stunk (and no, i'm not a lakers fan - the game just stunk). The series wasn't even as good as Cleveland v Washington. Stop with that silliness, please.
Posted: 2:23 PM   by Shortty
I thought it was the greatest series of all time.....because Kobe and his arrogance got a nice big slice of humble pie at the end of game 7. Keep your big head and your imitation fist pump to yourself you ball hoging gloryhound.
Posted: 2:37 PM   by Anonymous
When I clicked on this story I expected it to' at the very least include the Cavaliers and Wizards, if it was not EXCLUSIVELY a story about the Cavaliers and Wizards. Im kind of bored and shocked at the same time.
Posted: 2:42 PM   by H.
To the poster who complained that Steve Nash should not be MVP because he lead the league in turnovers, three points:

1. He did NOT lead the league in turnovers (that would be Gilbert Arenas).

2. The most turnovers are usually committed by the best players, because they handle the ball more than anyone else and are double-teamed more than anyone else. When you add in the number of trips down court that the Suns have each game (probably 10-20% more than the average team), their high-risk, high-reward run-and-gun style, and the fact that Nash is the team's primary ball-handler, it wouldn't have been surprising if Nash did lead the league in turnovers. But, again, he DIDN'T.

3. The following players were in the top twenty in the league for turnovers: Arenas, D-Wade, Nash, Paul Pierce, Iverson, LeBron, Shaq, Tony Parker, Baron Davis, Andrei Kirilenko, Pau Gasol, Carmelo, Vince Carter, and Kobe. Sounds like a pretty good All-Star team. Clearly, turnovers, as a raw statistic, are not a good measure of skill or value. (Note, many of these players are not their team's primary ball-handlers.)

There are many good reasons why LeBron, Nowitzki, Billups, etc., deserved the MVP over Nash, but turnovers is not one of them.
Posted: 2:43 PM   by Hugh Johnson
The only reason its considered is the overhype of Kobe (ball hog) Bryant). The Lakers are right where they should be. The Suns are the only team in the NBA that would lose 3 to the Lakers, because they have the weakest inside in the NBA. Reminder: Kobe made one shot (game 4) and missed one that would have won it (game 6).
Posted: 2:43 PM   by John
The Suns and Steve Nash make watching basketball fun on a whole new level. This series was super fun to watch and a nail bitter several times.

As for those who think Steve Nash shouldn't be MVP... Hands down, Kobe is a great player, but Steve Nash is a great player who also makes the players around him great. Not to mention, his stats were all up this year.
Posted: 3:09 PM   by Anonymous
Dude, it was a good series, but come on. So do you have a 'SC and Lakers tattoo yet?
Posted: 4:25 PM   by Anonymous
The Lakers choked! Smush Parker is a terrible basketball player and should NOT be in the NBA...3 for 24 shooting in games 4,5 ,and 6. yuck. Maybe a few years in the CBA will do this kid some good. The Suns will eliminate both teams from L.A. this year. You gotta luv it.
Posted: 5:47 PM   by Anonymous
Michael, 15 years?! Try three. The NBA switched from a 5-game first round to a 7-game first round in 2003.
Posted: 6:02 PM   by Anonymous
Best first round series? Honestly it seemed eerily similar to last year's playoff series between dallas and houston. Both houston and lakers had what seemed like an insurmountable lead but ended up getting blown out in their respective game 7's.
Posted: 6:06 PM   by Anonymous
Once again Kobe Bryant has proved to be one of the least classy people in the NBA. It was a tough series, but to leave the court the way he did after game 7 is even more reason for people to not like this kid. Grow up already.
Posted: 6:29 PM   by showtime
smush parker..kwame brown..luke walton...are you kidding me? Lakers heve only 2 probable starters that would start anywhere in the L. Give Kobe Lebrons team.. theyd make it to the Finals easily. I know they had a 3-1 lead but thats what the likes of Smush Parker and Luke Walton do to you. Also that 1 lucky rebound the Suns got in game 6 that went to tim thomas looks very lucky now. Offseason should be huge for L.A need to pcika up a dead-eye shooter like Jamal Crawford. but i still dont get how Kobe "forgot" that marion was on him. now he could think bout that all summer..
Posted: 6:43 PM   by Anonymous
Kobe proved he is the best player in the game-bar none. His supporting cast is average at best and he had them 1 rebound short of the series. The columnists, analyists, and fans can hate on Kobe all day long because at the end he will be standing on top. As far Kobe not being classy, please the Suns whined, took cheap shots, and complained like no #2 seed has done before. The Suns flopped to the second round, congratulations.
Posted: 7:24 PM   by Anonymous
This game was classic because it exposed Kobe for who he really is. A sore-losing kid.

The guy can obviously score (as can iverson), but he's not a champion. If you're looking for true MVP caliber players, look no further than the second round. Here you will find players that have led their teams through character and sacrifice, not scoring titles: Lebron, Rip, Wade, Nash, Shaq, and Brand.

What kills me the most is how Kobe lives like he has a huge chip on his shoulder. Why is he so bitter? Because people have always called him a ballhog? Because he had a hard time being acknowledged as anything other than a spoiled kid? Carmelo, Iverson, Lebron, now there are players who know real suffering. Take a look at where they came from.

I thought it was telling when Raja threw Kobe on the ground. Did you notice how no one really came to his defense? Maybe they were waiting for Pamela Mackey to intervene.
Posted: 7:27 PM   by Anonymous
I just don't appreciate how many people take so much blame on Kobe. Barkley the loser of all losers, doesn't have the right to critize Kobe. If not because of Kobe, the Lakers were prolly swept in that series. Now Barkley's comment about Buss' decision to let go of Shaq is not a right decision, coz Shaq's team according to him, is still playing right now. You think it's smart to even compare the lineup of both LA and Miami? I don't agree with Kobe taking 3 shots at the 2nd half, but who can blame him, he's the only one who showed up in that game 7. Lamar played well for the 1st 6 games, but he wasn't there when they needed him the most. Not to put the blame on him, but that's just the way it goes. Lakers lost, Suns wins, life moves on. I hope that the Lakers organization esp Mitch does some nice things over the summer to give Kobe the support he really needs and not waste Kobe at his prime!
Posted: 7:49 PM   by Anonymous
Maybe not the best series but a good series to say the least.Any NBA or basketball fan can enjoy a series that reminds you of the day when trash talk and being physical was expected in a playoff series.Watching a 7 seed take a 2 seed with power to seven games, when the 7 seed wasn't even supposed to make the playoffs was interesting in itself.I am sure there are many people smashing Kobe and the Lakers that weren't doing anything but praying Tim Thomas' shot went in,in game 6 after the Lakers came from behind to take the lead.
Posted: 8:11 PM   by Nate
Cavs-Wizards deserves to be in the mix. That series featured 3 game winning shots in the last 10 seconds, LeBron's triple double in Game 1, and the amazing duels going back and forth between Arenas and LeBron. The most amazing thing about all of the game-winners is that they each came with the Cavs down by 1 at the time, meaning there was extra tension because the Cavs would have lost had they not scored, instead of going into overtime. Plus, game 6 also featured Arenas' amazing 30 foot three to tie it. Game 4 also had Arenas going off for 20 in the 4th quarter. So, only one game didn't have either an amazing individual performance or a buzzer beater, or both. The only thing holding that series back was the fact that it didn't go 7, but the overall quality of the series was better than in the LA/Phoenix series. Only games 4 and 6 were real good games that went down to the wire. Granted, Game 4 was an absolute classic, and Game 6 was right up there also. But aside from game 6, we didn't see the two best players on each team at the top of their games like in the Was-Cle series and 5 of the 7 games were not in doubt in the last 30 seconds.

Other potential candidates: Sea-Den 1994, Bulls-Cavs 1989 (game 5 of that series is one of the greatest of all time, i think there were 4 lead changes in the last minute or so), Jazz-Kings 1999 (a very underrated series), Pistons-Knicks 1984 (featuring Isiah/Bernard King, Isiah with 13 points in the last minute 30 of game 5 to send it into OT, and every game in the series within 7 points.
Posted: 8:18 PM   by Nate
Oh, I can never endorse that Knicks-Heat series, because the quality of play was just extremely low. First off, that series did not feature any true superstars. Remember that Ewing didn't even play in that series because he had an injury, and he was on the decline by then anyway. Second, that lockout year was probably the lowest quality of play in NBA history, certainly the lowest scoring. And that series was just extremely ugly to watch. Even the game-winner was a lucky shot, which was fitting because luck was the only method either team could find to score all series. While there was plenty of hate and plenty of drama, the quality of play was just too low.
Posted: 12:24 AM   by bwalton
Sad that there are no more best of 5 first round series. It pretty much eliminates that chance of an upset. Beating a better team that 4th time it extremely difficult. It's too bad the game 4 heroics didn't result in a series win. The NBA wants to be sure the better teams advance to supposedly improve ratings. Well the ratings would have been higher for an all LA series.
Posted: 12:40 AM   by Anonymous
Just listen to all you Laker/Kobe haters. To say you hate someone... especially just because they are GOOD/GREAT - you should be ashamed!!! I've known a lot of people that I might not go to dinner with, but I still respect them as a person. It sounds to me like there are some people out there who are plain old "jealous" (including Raja Bell!!!). Even if Kobe WAS like you 'HEARD' - so what!! - the man is still one of the GREATEST players out there, and there isn't a GM out there who wouldn't want Kobe on his team (and if he didn't he's crazy). Yes, I'm a Laker / Kobe fan, (with or w/o Shaq) and I'm proud of it. And if he was on "your favorite" team, you'd be a Kobe fan also. Kobe wouldn't have to take over the game if he had players who could consistently put the ball in the basket. He would also have a high percentage of assists. Kobe is 'damned' if he doesn't and 'damned' if he does. In the eyes of "haters" he either shoots to much, or doesn't shoot enough. Did you hate on MJ? Quit bad mouthing the man, he had a fantastic season, which any other player worth his profession would love to have. Kobe is energetic, entertaining, hard working, motivated, driven and everything a coach and owner would want to have. Kobe, thank you for the great games, and I thank you for your talent and excitement that you bring to the game of basketball. I look forward to next season and all that you have to bring!! A true fan!
Posted: 1:20 AM   by Anonymous
Before the series started, I would have just been happy if the Lakers didn't get swept. (I'm actually a fan of both teams). Be honest, the talent levels of these teams are night and day. Smush, undrafted free agent, Luke, second round pick. Kwame, overall first pick, but notorious underachiever. Yes, there is some talent, Sasha, Bynum, Cook, Turiaf will all be solid NBA players, but only Kobe, Odom and George had any playoff experience. Smush parker vs the 2 time leage MVP, are you kidding? It's a testament to Phil Jackson's coaching that this team had a chance to win the series at all. After you get past Kobe/Odom, the roster is garbage. (I hear they will try to make a run at Garnett) So IMHO, good series w/ great moments.
Posted: 3:30 AM   by Anonymous

Give the Lakers and Phil Jackson credit for even making it this far!

Sure, it is extremely disappointing to see them blow a 3-1 lead in the series. And all of us have to admit that they were overwhelmed with the hard-earned victories over the Suns that forced the Suns to go game 7. Don't know what happened, only God knows.

But, I would give them credit for making it this far in a season that has been up and down. A trial season with new pieces to fit in the Lakers triangle system. I believe the triangle offence is still one of the most feared and effective offence systems in the league. And the mental philosophical edge in Phil Jackson that the Lakers have. He is still one of the best coaches available.

No doubt the Lakers have a lot to think about. Like Kobe on his sportsmanship and 'unreachable talents' issues. I'm sure Phil knows what to do in the offseason. Especially when Aaron McKie and Jim Jackson healthy and fitting into the triangle system (provided they know how to suit in), healthy Mihm, everything healthy (hopefully).

As a Laker's spectator, during the offseason, the Lakers will have to do the following:
-> Kobe and teammates must learn how to blend more with each other, a.k.a trusting each other.
-> NO MORE KOBE SHOW! In fact, evolve it into the LAKERS SHOW!
-> Teammates have to step up. I'm seeing great talent in Smush and Kwame. Keep it up.
-> Keep Phil. He helps A LOT by giving them a philosophical edge.

In a nutshell, Lakers are a young team behind a hopefully-will-not-be-selfish Kobe Bryant. Expect Lakers to bounce back next season. I'm looking forward to them next season. And Rockets too, if McGrady comes back healthy with Yao.

Posted: 10:35 AM   by Dan
Maybe not the best series but it's up there. Kobey, agh! All that tallent and he acts so arrogant. "Raja's a good defender...that said, I can get any shot I want..." I guess he wanted to put up an air ball at the end of game 6 to toy with the Suns some more. Then not even shaking hands, etc. at the end of game 7. I thought Kobe could be the next Jordan, because of his fiery personality, will to win and ability to accomplish late game heroics. Jordan did that only he did it with class. I know Kobe also made some comments about Raja not getting enought hugs from his mom or something. Maybe. I suppose if you want to make parental guidance an issue, how about being a real man? Did Kobe's dad forget to teach him how to be one? How to win like one, how to lose like one?
Posted: 1:55 PM   by Anonymous
I'm not a laker fan, but Barkley went out of line to critize Kobe. I was just reading a column at a New York Newspaper, saying Barkley's comment were stupid and I think it's just personal why he attacked Kobe after that LA breakdown. A lot of Kobe haters are personal, but as a person you have to appreciate what he bring to the game of basketball. You can hate him all you want but he's the best player int he NBA right now. Sorry to my boy Lebron, but he's not in that level yet.
Posted: 3:26 PM   by bob
comment by bob:
Best series in the 1st round ever?
No ,I don't think so. As a Sun fan who was there for game 7 , it could not have been more satisfying than to watch the egomaniac get his toilet flushed.He, of course had to try and salvage his rep by not shooting to emphasize that his teamates were no help to him.Only guys like him and TO would even try to get intelligient fans to buy into that line of thinking but make no mistake about it,he pouted the entire 2nd half and was purposedly turning down shots to somehow in his warped egotistical mind show that it was not him but his team that lost this series.Way to go,Elbow Boy,throw them under the bus to satisfy your own love affair with yourself.Things will not get better for him and Phillip next year either because no good player in his right mind wants to come there and play with SELF-CENTERED JORDAN WANNABE.
Posted: 5:30 PM   by Anonymous
For the people bashing on Kobe for the second half of Game 7, you seem to forget that the Lakers won three(almost four) games playing team ball. Kobe knew that there was no way they could win even if he'd score 50 points. The important thing was he tried to get his teammates back into the game. And that was the only way they needed to play against the Suns. If it had been successful, though, the Lakers would have made it a more interesting game and possibly advanced.
Posted: 7:34 PM   by maribel
Exciting as some of the games were in this series, as a Lakers fan I think the best series so far has been the Wizards vs. the Cavs. The last three games were breathtaking, with Lebron and Arenas going back and forth. I wish the Cavs a lot of luck against the Pistons - they're gonna need it!
Posted: 7:45 PM   by Anonymous
The reference to Game 5 in the article is wrong, more than once. Game 4 was the last game the Lakers won.
Posted: 6:21 PM   by Anonymous
After reading through all of the entrees for this particular blog, I feel very much compelled to defend the NBA's 1997 first round draft pick, who, if I may add, was laughed at when selected in the top 10, because he was only a high school player out of Lower Merion in Pennsylvania. As others laughed, I said to myself, "Yeah. Laugh now; but I won't, because this guy is going to become one of the elite players in the league." And so, it came to pass, after filling out in his first three years in the league, that he became one of the premiere players in all the NBA. Sure, many of you will say that if not for Shaquille O'Neal's presence, his success would only be marginal at best. However, one cannot dispute the unbelievable talent he possesses. With all due respect to Grant Hill (when he was healthy in the mid to late 90's), Vince Carter, Lebron James, Tracy McGrady, Dwayne Wade, and others who have been knighted over the years as the, "Heir apparent to his majesty's throne"; his majesty being Michael Jordan of course, Kobe Bryant, without making proclamations or implications that border on insanity, has been the closest thing we've seen to matching the intensity, passion, and unparalled will to win. No, I am not his publicist, but given the verbal context and tonality of some of these entries, I sort of wish I were heading/handling his PR campaign.

Granted, he's made mistakes and has done things which are understandably immoral by many standards. However, it should not take away from who he is--a basketball player who loves what he does and gives you 100 percent night in and night out. Charles Barkely is a individual who I have the greatest amount of respect for both when he was on the court and off. I'm sure the context of his comments on Kobe Bryant were sincere and not meant to purposely demoralize what Bryant did or did not do in Game 7, in particluar, the 2nd half. I'm sure some of you are saying, "What! You're defending Sir Charles after what he said about your precious Kobe Bryant?" Yes, I have always respected the analysis of someone who understands the game of basketball and is one of my five favorite players of all time. His comments were not vindictive and did not rise to the level of contempt for Kobe's play. Barkley wants Kobe to be the player he knows he can be; otherwise, he wouldn't care about what Kobe Bryant does on the court. It's quite obvious Barkely does care, because he knows how great Kobe is and still can be.

So, in closing, for those of you who have placed Kobe in the same company of other infamous pretentious egoeytes( i.e. Terrell Owens, Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco, Tony Stewart, Mike Tyson, etcetera), remember that he isn't on the creme, hasn't written a tell all book revealing the duplicitious nature of some major league players, throw temper tantrums by sticking the nose of his car into the back of other drivers, and bite off the ear of another human being. He's Kobe Bryant the family man, the billingual speaker, professional basketball player, and let's not forget, someone, who unlike the other's aforementioned, has admitted to his personal wrongdoings.
Posted: 12:39 PM   by Anonymous
the best series? nah. game 4&6 were the highlights. 7 was a disappointing blow out. Kobe no doubt is the best player in the league right now and LA fans hope mitch can find the other pieces to make kobe's work a little bit easier. and as far as mvp goes, kobe should of won it. Nash is a really solid point guard but, he has much better players than kobe even MJ had better players than kobe. Give kobe his props he's fantastic!!!

Posted: 4:04 PM   by Kevin
I don't blame Kobe on game 7, if Kobe miss a shot, Phoenix will get rebound and score, instead of loosing 20 , Lakers will loose 30 points. I feel sorry for Dallas owner, when he said something, NBA fined him hundred thousand dollars, when Phoenix Suns owner talk about NBA refs,... he did not get fine. I don't trust NBA rules.
Posted: 2:25 PM   by Anonymous
I think this was a great series, but the Lakers need to get some help next year. Kobe is a good player, but he can't do all. They started out okay, but they fell apart, and they along with the media and everyone else looked for Kobe to pick up the pieces. This is a team sport and everyone out there has to play!