Notes from shootaround
First things first: A couple days back we were sent an article containing the picture at left from the parade after the Celtics won in '86. There is, quite clearly, a Walton in the bottom right hand corner, but when I showed a copy of the pic to Luke, he couldn't tell if it was him or one of his brothers. In fairness, I printed it at home and my machine, while good enough for me, doesn't exactly produce museum-quality images.
"C'mon. L.A. Times, and you couldn't at least give me a color photo?" he asked.
First, the picture was delivered to me in black and white. Second, I just don't go into the office that much.
Anyway, typically nothing happens at shootaround, and today was no different. It was cool to be in the building without anyone there, though. They have the white, "Beat LA" T-shirts draped over every seat, there's certainly a sense of anticipation. What there isn't, though, is news. Just more waiting until the 9 pm EST tip. "It's very difficult. These guys will probably have a four or five o'clock lunch, then we'll set up a training table after the game for them, so they'll eat at 1, 1:30 in the morning, going to bed at 2, 2:30. It makes it a really difficult next day for us," Phil Jackson said. "It's something I don't enjoy at all. I think it takes guys out of their rhythm and out of their lifestyle. I know they're trying to reach both audiences on the coasts, but there's a (better) way to do that."
Other than that, everything is hunky-dory. No last-minute emergencies, late tweaks, or trouble with the law. "They all went to dinner together last night and had a good time," Jackson said. "Not the coaching staff, though. We don't belong. We just pay for it." When they're on the road, Kobe's AmEx gets a break. But he's looking forward to finally getting on the court and work through what will be some natural pregame jitters. Players have talked about having butterflies and how it will feel to be on the floor, and Jackson said it's a healthy thing. "They should. It's a respect for the game."
I asked him what was different about bringing his team, with its relative lack of experience, to the Finals as opposed to the group he had in '04. "I think the biggest thing is that not having played a team for a long time, just trying to get them to understand where bodies are going to be, where screens and activity is going to happen so that they can react to it. Basketball is pretty much basic actions, but bodies are placed in different spots and they have their own personal characteristics. So to have your team anticipate and be able to react in time to cover guys if they kick a ball over to a shooter from 25 feet and knock down shots takes a little bit of adjustment time. That's what we're trying to do in this series that we perhaps didn't get done in 2004."
Certainly he'll be busy. With the seemingly endless matchup combinations, the possibility for adjustments, whether good, bad, neutral or unnecessary, will be large. "You're always working from a position where you're going to be jeopardizing somebody to cover somebody else, or you're going to have to try somebody on a person that maybe has not got a whole lot of experience just so you can see what's going to happen. We'll do that probably early in the series, both coaches, and find out who can guard guys."
Finally, if you're into stats and missed this earlier, here's an interesting bit of reading.