Los Angeles made one wild move after another this season, with owner Jerry Buss insisting on Rodman, who predictably lifted the Lakers and then just as quickly set them back down. There was the firing of coach Del Harris, who was succeeded, on an interim basis, by assistant Kurt Rambis, and a blockbuster trade that brought sharpshooter Glen Rice to L.A. to take pressure off Shaq inside. "All this," says Rambis, who was very much interim after this series, "and the games just kept coming at you."
Against San Antonio the Lakers made one gaffe after another, the worst in a winnable Game 2 at the Alamodome. While leading the Spurs 76-75 with 8.9 seconds left and a foul to give, they let Duncan have a nine-footer. "We know that talent doesn't always win," says West, "but you like to see some good decisions at the end of games."
The Lakers might yet survive the managerial muddle and make all their high-priced puzzle pieces fit. They have too much talent not to win, and just in case they still don't, they'll be the more interesting team to watch for years to come. There's something to be said for charisma. It will always play to the most people. But what the Spurs seem to be teaching us is that charisma might not have the longest run. Stone-faced kids with soft bank shots might win the day, or more of them anyway.