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April 24, 2008

Denver vs. Lakers Playoffs - Then and Now


Any seven game series is a match up of adjustments. Each team needs to find weak spots to use to attack their opponent. And each team needs to fix problems in its own offensive game plan and defensive schemes. In last nights game the Nuggets were more patient when they had the ball and didn’t go with the quick jump shot. The Lakers were more patient with their offense and got their shots from areas that were not available to them in game one.

Denver played a zone much of the time and that limited the effectiveness of Pau Gasol. But Pau got enough done to hold down his job. The effective shooting of Kobe Bryant was the key factor that was crucial to the Lakers success. I’ve heard Charles Barkley describe Kobe as a “fast car” when you need to get somewhere in a hurry. He was all of that in this game. He shot 18 for 27 from the field, including 5 of 9 three pointers. Pau and Luke Walton provided offensive support scoring 18 points apiece. Denver was successful for awhile by crashing the offensive boards for second shots and out re-bounded the Lakers 45 to 41.

The Lakers passing is still a dominant factor in this match up and again they shared the ball for 33 assists (a great Lakers number!). The only disappointment for the Lakers was the ineffective play of Lamar Odom who scored only four points with four rebounds and six assists. But Lamar won’t be down for long. You can expect him to come back strong in the following game. The Lakers will have their work cut out for them in Denver and this series could be a long one, but I think Kobe will be the decisive factor. Today’s Nuggets run and gun also, but they will need to slow the Lakers with effective defense. Marcus Camby is an effective shot blocker but hasn’t been a dominant force in the paint on a regular basis. Pau Gasol is a real problem for the Nuggets to contend with if they want to focus their defense on stopping Kobe. Needless to say, I think this will be an interesting series.

I remember back in ’79 when the Lakers beat the Nuggets 2 to 1 against the team led by David Thompson. Anytime a professional team must play in Denver there must be an allowance made for the altitude which in Denver is over 5,000 feet. That has a major impact on the stamina of teams that train at sea level. It takes a week or so to acclimate to the additional altitude, which has a dramatic effect on an athlete’s heart and lungs. This is a serious home court advantage and it has led to some major misjudgments by anyone trying to assess the Nuggets chances. But, Denver has had some great athletes compete for them. Thompson, Fat Lever, Alex English, Calvin Natt and Dan Issell come to mind. And of course three point threat Michael Adams. In those days Denver played an up-tempo game to take advantage of their quick mobile shooters who would score score score. I remember a scoring title race one year when David Thompson and George Gervin vied for the scoring title to the last game of the regular season. David scored 60 something if I remember correctly to take the lead. George Gervin then scored 75 or so to clinch the title later the same day. I am looking forward to see which players emerge as this generations leaders.

(Photo credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)


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Captain Kareem

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is considered by many fans and sportswriters to be the greatest basketball player of all time. The 7-foot-2 Hall of Fame center, famous for his indefensible skyhook, dominated the NBA for 20 years, first with the Milwaukee Bucks then with the Los Angeles Lakers. Before that he was the star of the UCLA Bruins teams that won three consecutive NCAA championships. Kareem was the NBA's MVP six times, a 19-time all-star and set the NBA all-time records in nine categories. He is the NBA's all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points, a record that may never be broken.

Since retiring as a player in 1989, Kareem has balanced his love of basketball with his love of history. In 2002 he led a USBL team, the Oklahoma Storm, to a championship. Since 2005, he has been the special assistant coach for the Lakers, working with Andrew Bynum.

In 2008 he was chosen The Greatest Player in College Basketball History.

Kareem also remains intellectually active, authoring six bestselling history books intended to popularize the contributions of African-Americans to American culture and history. His books include "Black Profiles in Courage: A Legacy of African-American Achievement"; "Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII's Forgotten Heroes"; "A Season on the Reservation," which chronicles his time teaching basketball and history on an Apache Indian reservation in White River, Ariz.; and the current New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller, "On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance."

His audio adaptation, "On the Shoulders of Giants: My Audio & Musical Journey through the Harlem Renaissance," is a four-volume compilation read by Bob Costas, Avery Brooks, Jesse L. Martin, and Stanley Crouch, and features private and fascinating conversations with dozens of icons, including Coach John Wooden, Julius Erving, Charles Barkley, Samuel L. Jackson, Maya Angelou, Quincy Jones and Billy Crystal. He has also been written to L.A. Times, under the Sports section.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been appearing on various radio stations and TV shows, as well as the most relevant websites talking about his life and his new audio book, On the Shoulders of Giants.

All images are property of www.iconomy.com unless otherwise stated. All info copyrighted and owned by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is not replicated without permission.

Come meet Kareem at the NBA Store on 5th Avenue: Friday, May 16th, from 3:15pm - 4:15pm.

Kareem_READ The American Library Association (ALA) is pleased to announce that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has joined the popular Celebrity READ poster series. The Celebrity READ poster campaign is one of the most effective ways to encourage people to get a good education, improve their reading skills, and to read for sheer enjoyment.
Mr. Abdul-Jabbar is the 2008 Honorary Chair Library Card Sign-up Month, which takes place in September. He will also appear at the American Library’s National Convention on June 28th and 29th at the Long Beach Convention Center to sign his poster.

To purchase Mr. Abdul-Jabbar's poster and to view the entire line of Celebrity READ Posters, please click here. now!

Kareem_jersey Join the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's Fan Club
and win a chance to receive a prize from my official store !

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ESPN names Kareem The Greatest Player In College Basketball History

Check the latest about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Go to KareemAbdulJabbar.com for more news.
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