Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

April 24 NBA Playoff notes

It sure is nice to hear Quinn Buckner calling an NBA game. As a kid, I read how Bobby Knight praised his basketball mind as he helped Indiana University to a national championship and the United States to an Olympic gold medal. While never a spectacular scorer, he was an outstanding defensive guard who knew how to help his teammates get into the flow of the game. After a short but solid spell with the Milwaukee Bucks, he was traded to the Boston Celtics where he won a title in green in 1984.

That ring made him one of three players in American basketball history to win a high school state title (in Chicago), a college championship (with Indiana), an Olympic gold, and an NBA crown. The other two are the New York Knicks' Jerry Lucas and Los Angeles Lakers' Magic Johnson.

The Philadelphia 76ers are a solid scorer and a supersub away from being a good team.

Detroit is a solid team but I wonder if they still have that fire that they displayed several years ago. They can match up with the best of the West but can they do it consistently? As their history shows, they've always had problems with strong-willed opponents who can do a little bit of everything -- shoot, drive, pass, rebound, and take over the game. Of course there's that bald-headed guy from Chicago who is retired right now, there's Manu Ginobili, and LeBron James.

A championship-contending team is put together over the course of a couple of years. They rise from dark horse team to contender where they add a few pieces to the puzzle that should be their cast for a lengthy play-off run.

Remember how Boston added Bill Walton to a team that faltered in 1985? Everyone thought Walton to be washed up but he was the Sixth Man of the Year in 1986 who was a huge factor in the Celtics' title drive that season. The Los Angeles Lakers countered by bringing in another former Portland Trailblazer in Mychal Thompson in 1987 and he was a huge factor in their back-to-back reign of 1987 & 88.

The Detroit Pistons traded away Adrian Dantley for former Mavericks star Mark Aguirre in 1989 and his firepower (though comparable to Dantley's but AD was less willing to give the ball to Isiah Thomas) helped the original Bad Boys to two straight crowns.

The 1990's Chicago Bulls would add a role player almost every year during their six championship years -- Cliff Levingston, Bobby Hansen, Trent Tucker, Dennis Rodman, Brian Williams, and Scott Burrell.

San Antonio got Robert Horry and Steve Kerr, Los Angeles went with Glen Rice, Detroit got Rasheed Wallace...

But teams have to make headway soon for that championship-berth window is open for only a couple of years before it closes. Sacramento and Portland know that all too well. Can we say the same about the Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks?

Basketball critics like to say that it's a watered-down league right now and it's unlike the 1980's when Boston and LA ruled. There's something wrong with that. Back then, the Sixers and the Rockets (and later the Pistons) occasionally crashed the party but outside of them, that was it. Now how much fun is that? That meant that most of the league were patsies since they could never beat Boston and LA.

It's more fun seeing more teams compete now even if the Eastern Conference isn't what it used to be.

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