Amare Stoudemire, Brandon Jennings, Julius Erving and Lisa Leslie debate how the Heat and Lakers will match up next season
Amare Stoudemire's efforts to persuade LeBron James to join the Knicks fell flat, but he at least can be comforted that there may be another Super Team in the works. After Stoudemire signed a five year, $100-million deal with the Knicks, New Orleans guard Chris Paul floated the idea at Carmelo Anthony's wedding last weekend that the two should join the Knicks after the 2010-11 season so the Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and James have a formidable Eastern Conference opponent.
"I was like, 'Yes! Way to go, CP3. I love you,' " Stoudemire said Wednesday before the ESPYs. "I'll tell you what, man, Miami has a great trio. The Lakers have a great trio, so does Boston. That's what it takes now in this era to team up with some great players. If I can get some players to join me, that would be great."
Stoudemire, aware that the league is always on the lookout for signs of tampering, stuck close to the vest, though, and said any speculation is premature since neither Paul's or Anthony's contracts expire until after next season. But there was one topic Stoudemire wasn't shy about: When I brought up that his argument that Lamar Odom had a "lucky game" in Game 1 of the Lakers-Suns Western Conference finals matchup created a stir in this corner of the blogosphere, he simply replied, "I was just being honest."
Stoudemire obviously didn't appear complimentary toward the Lakers. Even if Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings had a verbal spat last season with Jordan Farmar, he didn't bite his tongue on the LeBron-Kobe Bryant debate. I should actually correct that. With the way things are going, it seems that discussion isn't even a debate anymore.
"The guys has five rings and he won two of them without Shaq," Jennings said. "He's the best player in the league. Until somebody else takes the crown and takes a ring from him, then I crown him the best player in the league."
Former 76ers star Julius Erving wouldn't provide a prediction one way or the other. But he says Miami has a good shot at unseating the Lakers. Surely Laker fans won't like Erving's contention that the Lakers won Game 7 of this year's NBA Finals mostly because of the injury to the Celtics' Kendrick Perkins.
Former Sparks center Lisa Leslie, the WNBA's career scoring leading, has seen plenty of games this season after spending the first part of her retirement analyzing Lakers games for Channel 7. She smiled during the entire interview, and the reasons went beyond the fact that I loaned her my sunglasses to help protect her eyes. Leslie said she wasn't worried about Miami because of the Lakers' success the last two seasons as well as their off-season movement, which included keeping Coach Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher, signing point guard Steve Blake and drafting forwards Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter. There is one ingredient, however, that Leslie sees as instrumental toward the Lakers three-peating.
Andrew Bynum needs to be a healthier Andrew Bynum if we face Miami" in the NBA Finals, Leslie said. "He cannot do it against Chris Bosh being hurt. He was able to pull it off because Boston's post players, they work hard but they're not the go-to men. We're definitely going to need a healthy Lakers in order to repeat."
-- Mark Medina
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