Ask an old-timer about how much the NBA has changed, and all they have to do is point to this week’s biggest story leading up to the Lakers/Magic championship series. Almost 40 years ago, the Finals revolved around, “Will Willis Reed play?” Today, you can’t find anybody under the age of 50 named “Willis,” and now the big question is, “Will Jameer play?” Doesn’t quite sound the same coming out of Marv Albert’s mouth as the first one … Jameer did practice with the Magic yesterday, after which Stan Van Gundy said he looked good. Anthony Johnson, who actually suffers the most if Jameer does get some run, told the Orlando Sentinel, “I’m pretty sure he’s going to be given the benefit of the doubt. I expect him to be out there sometime during the series. You got to play the guys who give you the best chance to win.” That’s the issue, though: Does playing Jameer off a four-month layoff give Orlando the best chance to win? … Sooner or later, you knew somebody was gonna hit up President Obama for his NBA Finals prediction. In fact, we’re surprised ESPN didn’t wrangle him in for an “NBA Fastbreak” segment yet breaking down Lakers/Magic position-by-position. Yesterday, before Barack hopped on a helicopter on his way to catch a jet bound for the Middle East, a reporter asked for his pick. “Lakers in six, I think,” Obama said. Seeing as Dwight Howard was able to use Kobe and LeBron muppets as bulletin board material in the conference finals, we’re guessing he’ll keep the President’s words in mind as he tries to take down the Lake Show in this series … In the “We’re stretched for stories” tradition of Bill Walton calling an important Lakers game involving Luke Walton and Bob Griese calling Michigan’s Rose Bowl when Brian Griese was QB, a lot has been made about Jeff Van Gundy working the Finals broadcasts when brother Stan is coaching. “I was a little bit leery of doing the games and I remember speaking to Mike (Breen) and Mark (Jackson) about it,” JVG told the Houston Chronicle. “And I said, ‘I don’t know if I should do the games, because I’m not sure I would be critical of Stan.’ And Mark said, ‘Well, that’s not different. You’re never critical of any coaches.’ So that made a lot of sense to me, because I know how hard the job is.” Jeff added that he’d keep some champagne nearby to “pour over myself and Mark and Mike” if Orlando wins the whole thing … Some of the Dime crew was in Chicago yesterday at the famous A.T.T.A.C.K. Center gym — for reasons you’ll know about soon enough — while some ’09 Draft prospects went through workouts. One notable attendee was Jordan Hill, and as one of our boys put it, “He runs like a senior citizen with hot coals in his shoes, but he hasn’t missed a mid-range shot in about 20 minutes.” … Sixers coach Eddie Jordan said he plans to use Elton Brand at both power forward and center. As for regular center Sam Dalembert, who asked for a trade earlier this year, he might be shipped out now since he doesn’t really fit in Jordan’s Princeton-style system … Doesn’t Deron Williams‘ 19.4 ppg and 10.7 apg this season automatically become more impressive when you realize he did it on an ankle that was killing him? In yesterday’s Deseret News, D-Will said the ankle injury he suffered last preseason (when he got Bruce Bowened by Derrick Rose) bothered him all year long, and didn’t feel any better until about a week or two after the Jazz had been eliminated by the Lakers. “During the season, pretty much every day of my life it hurt; even just walking around a city, or walking around my house, it hurt,” he said. Deron is supposed to stay off the ankle as much as possible for the next couple of months, but says he can still swim, bike and do other stuff to stay in shape. Utah as a team could look vastly different next season — Boozer, Okur and Korver could all opt out, and Millsap is an unrestricted free agent — but no matter who else is there, we have a feeling Deron is going to be a BEAST. He’ll end that string of All-Star snubs, just watch … We’re out like Jameer (for now) …
Smack / Jun 3, 2009 / 3:05 am
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