By Connor Buestad
I know, I know. You are wondering why the vaunted LA Lakers are gracing the pages of Bay Area Surf ‘n Sport, and rightfully so. That said, there haven’t been too many intriguing news stories coming out of Golden State Warriors’ camp as of late. Yes, they will be drafting 7th in this year’s NBA draft, and yes legendary Warrior Chris Mullin is no longer involved in the front office. Other than that, I don’t have much for you.
What I do have is a comment on the interesting series brewing in the Western Conference Finals. Game 1 was hotly contested throughout, with LA finally prevailing 105-103. Kobe Bryant dropped 40, one better than counterpart Carmelo Anthony who had 39. More entertaining than watching these two talents score on the offensive end was seeing their heightened intensity on the defensive end. You just don’t see superstars receiving technical fouls for overaggressive defense during the regular season, luckily the playoffs are a different story.
Kobe was his usual self on Tuesday night; hitting shots from all angles, sinking clutch free throws, and making his teammates better. He seems to be playing with a chip on his shoulder in an effort to prove he can win a title without the services of Shaq O’Neal. In order to achieve this goal, he first must get past the scrappy Nuggets.
Following Game 2, the series will move east to Denver, where Kobe will no longer have the support of such celebs as Denzel, Spike Lee, and Jack Nicholson. Instead, he will be confronted with a raucous fan base still fuming over Kobe’s alleged sexual assault that took place in Edwards, Colorado during the summer of 2003. Kobe has long since been acquitted of any assault charges, but Nuggets fans are known to use any ammunition they can muster against a visiting player.
Not only will Denver’s fans pose a challenge to Kobe and the Lakers, the Nugget players themselves are a talented bunch of characters. For starters, rebounder Kenyon Martin has a tattoo of big red lips on his neck. Even better, swingman Chris Anderson has a tattoo of just about everything on that ghost white skin of his. Chauncey Billups doesn’t have that many tats, but he is a proven leader and one of the best point guards in the game.
The Nuggets are lead by head coach George Karl. A sage veteran who will look to draw on his extensive coaching experience in hopes of outsmarting the Lakers’ head man, Zen Master Phil Jackson.
I won’t go as far to say this will be the best series in the 2009 Playoffs. After all, the Bulls-Celtics 7 gamer was an instant classic. What I am saying, however, is that Lakers v. Nuggets is a Western Conference Final worth watching. Game 2 airs Thursday night on ESPN. 6pm tipoff.