LAKERS NOTEBOOK: WEST GIVES OLD TEAM SHOT.Byline: Howard Beck Staff Writer
DALLAS - Nick Van Exel Nickey (Nick) Maxwell Van Exel (born November 27 1971 in Kenosha, Wisconsin) is a retired American professional basketball player in the NBA. Van Exel, a 6'1" left-handed point guard, was most well known for his flashy style of play and his ability to hit critical shots during recently opined that the Lakers would not survive the first round of the playoffs, putting on the record what many players around the league privately believe, or at least hope.
That's what happens when the defending champs struggle. Suddenly, everyone's an expert with a prediction.
But the NBA's foremost judge of such things has a much more optimistic read of the Lakers' four-peat campaign. And he knows a little about them, too.
``I wouldn't be surprised to see them win another championship,'' Memphis Grizzlies This is an article about the National Basketball Association team; for the defunct World Football League team, see Memphis Southmen.
The Memphis Grizzlies are a professional basketball team based in Memphis, Tennessee. president Jerry West
West, the former Lakers' executive, has kept an eye on his old team. He'll see them in person tonight, when the Lakers and Grizzlies The name Grizzlies may refer to:
``From a distance, they've had an intriguing year, to say the least,'' West said. ``I still really believe that in the playoffs you'll see the one thing they need to do and that's just be better defensively. Because they can score the ball, but defense is what wins championships for you.''
The Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs The San Antonio Spurs are an American professional basketball team based in San Antonio, Texas. They play in the National Basketball Association (NBA), and are the current NBA Champions after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2007 NBA Finals. are widely perceived to be the favorites now. But, West said, ``I bet those two teams you mentioned would say, `Oh, my God, I hope we don't play the Lakers.' ''
West compared them to the last team to win at least four consecutive titles, the 1960s Boston Celtics.
Both teams, he said, ``have an extra gear, and they have the know-how and the will and determination to win. ... (The Celtics) had some years when they didn't have their best year and they found a way to put everything together and win during the playoffs.''
--Cheers: Shaquille O'Neal Shaquille Rashaun O'Neal (pronounced "shak-KEEL") (born March 6, 1972 in Newark, New Jersey), frequently referred to simply as Shaq, is an American professional basketball player, generally regarded as one of the most dominant in the National Basketball Association (NBA). will get the tribute he wanted Sunday, albeit later than he wanted.
The Lakers intended to honor O'Neal for scoring his 20,000th point two weeks ago, but officials postponed the ceremony because the milestone ball had been defaced de·face
tr.v. de·faced, de·fac·ing, de·fac·es
1. To mar or spoil the appearance or surface of; disfigure.
2. To impair the usefulness, value, or influence of.
3. by a Sacramento Kings fan and had been shipped back to Sacramento.
O'Neal, apparently unaware of the details of that decision, subsequently criticized team officials for failing to give him a proper tribute.
``It's a special achievement, and it should be recognized,'' general manager Mitch Kupchak Mitchell "Mitch" Kupchak (born May 24 1954 in Hicksville, New York) is a retired American basketball player and current general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers since the 2000-01 NBA season after predecessor Jerry West moved to the Memphis Grizzlies organization. said.
Lakers officials got the ball back Tuesday and were able to erase the graffiti. Kupchak will present O'Neal with the ball during a ceremony before Sunday's game against the Phoenix Suns.
--Words: The Lakers and Dallas Mavericks The introduction of this article is too short.
To comply with Wikipedia's lead section guidelines, it should be expanded. might as well meet in the playoffs. They've already planted the seeds for a bitter rivalry.
Told of Van Exel's prediction, O'Neal responded, ``I only listen to important players - important to the league, important to their teams.''
--Also: Six months after undergoing toe surgery that cost him 12 games, this was O'Neal's assessment of how much relief he's received: ``None. It still hurts.'' ... Slava Medvedenko made his second consecutive start at power forward.
LAKERS vs. MEMPHIS
- Howard Beck