After that long agonizing four day break, the NBA Finals are here.
I’m sure 90 percent of NBA Fans would have not picked this match up—well, the team representing the East that is.
I believe the Lakers are the New England Patriots of a couple of years ago (except the Pats had more “stars”). I see the Orlando Magic winning in six.
In preparation for the NBA Finals coverage on NBA.com, veteran NBA journalist and television analyst/reporter David Aldridge conducted an NBA Blogger Q&A session, facilitated by Kyle and Patrick at New Media Strategies, where he addressed the upcoming NBA Finals, key match-ups between the Lakers and Magic, pending NBA Draft and off-season, as well as colleagues at TNT and NBA.com.
Also, learn how you can chat with fellow NBA fans via Twitter during the game, instructions are at the conclusion of the Q&A.
Q: What are your thoughts overall on the NBA Playoffs this year and what is your key match up for the Finals? (Rey-Rey from TheNoLookPass)
DA: Well, I think the playoffs have been terrific, especially with Chicago and Boston. We’ve seen some incredible team performances, some incredible games with great last-minute shots, and a lot of dramatic series.
The Houston/LA series, which I don’t think anybody thought was going to be very competitive with Yao [Ming] out, was spectacular.
Obviously, Denver and LA was very competitive and Orlando beating Cleveland; which I don’t think anyone really thought was going to happen. The playoffs have been terrific so far.
For the NBA Finals and match-ups, the keys are the obvious ones: [Pau] Gasol vs. Rashard Lewis, I think that is going to be a big match up; the two of them have their obvious strengths in terms of their individual games. Paui's going to have trouble guarding Rashard and vice versa.
I think [Trevor] Ariza vs. [Hedo] Turkogluis going to be a big, big match-up because Orlandohas so much of a half-court offense with Turkoglu down the stretch. If Ariza can keep Hedo from being a distributor and get the ball to the other two good shooters; that will be a very important match-up. (NBA.com breakdown of Howard vs. Bynum here.)
DA: Obviously, I’m sure it’s difficult for anyone to cover something that his siblings are involved in. I’m sure it’s tough for Jeff, but he is a professional and I think he’s going to be fair. He’s done a very good job of calling it like he sees it and I have no doubt he will continue to do that.
With Magic [Johnson], we have watched him over the years and he does not hesitate to criticize the Lakers when they play poorly and I have no doubt that if they play poorly he won’t hesitate to do it again. I believe both guys give a fair assessment—as they should.
Q: Earlier this week, we posted a piece about Adam Morrison and JJ Redick facing off in these finals. Can you remember another situation like this is NBA history, when two relative busts, linked so closely together, ended up being non-contributors during the league's premier showcase? (Justin at SportsCracklePop)
DA: I think those two guys are not where they want to be in their NBA careers, but I would say that J.J. Redick did play very well for the Magic this season and helped the team win games, especially in the Orlando/Boston series guarding Ray Allen. The shots just weren’t falling for him then. He’s coming along and helping them in some ways.
Adam Morrison is not going to play in this series, and that just might be that he’s not in the right position right now. I am hesitant to call players busts, though, overall.”
Q: Obviously, next summer is the big free agent bonanza. Who will be the biggest signing of this offseason? Will it be Allen Iverson reuniting with Larry Brown in Charlotte? Ben Gordon coming home to New York? (Justin at SportsCracklePop)
DA: “I think Detroit is going to be really active this offseason, whether it’s with Carlos Boozer or Paul Milsap, maybe David Lee. I think they are going to do something this off-season that puts them back into contention in the Eastern Conference.
Think about some of the free agents: look at Lamar Odom, who I think is going to have a lot of suitors this offseason because of the way he has played in these playoffs. I think Trevor Ariza is going to get a lot of attention as well, maybe from a team like Memphis that is going to have a lot of cap room to take a look at an Ariza.
To get the players they want, they’re going to have to be aggressive and spend I think Boozer will have a lot of attention this summer. It seems like there are some things going on there and he may be on the move.
Q: How is it to work with Charles and company? Would you ever wear any of Craig’s suits? Would he ever wear the outfits Craig Sager wears? (Lizz at Lizz’s Lockeroom)
DA:“[laughs] You know what? I think one night it would be great if we did a bizarro TNT night where he would were a charcoal tie and a black three-piece suit, and I come out in three-piece pink suit. I wouldn’t mind trying that once.
Working with the Turner guys is so great in every aspect of the job, from production to content to working with people like Marv [Albert] , Reggie [Miller], and Kevin Harlan. It’s such a treat. They do a great job and really like working there. I’ve come along way with them, they bring incredible amounts of intelligence and knowledge to the broadcast.
I mean the proof is in the pudding with that show. You look at the Emmy Awards the studio show gets with Ernie [Johnson], Charles [Barkley] and Kenny [Smith]. They are the best in the business and wonderful to work with.
Q: What is the best NBA Finals you’ve covered in your career? (Lizz at Lizz’s Lockeroom)
DA: Great question. I guess for me it might have been last year’s, because when I came to the NBA we had the whole Boston/LA rivalry so I’ve always had that. For me to jump back into the history of that rivalry 20 years later that was a lot of fun.
It was really terrific to see Boston and LA competing for a championship, and with the history, that was a lot of fun.
Watching the Bulls dominate those six championships. The Phoenix series in ‘93 was a great series. I really felt that series should have gone seven games.
Q: If Kobe captures his fourth NBA title, where does he stand amongst the League's all-time greats? Can we start making a case for KB24 to "one day" surpass MJ as the G.O.A.T.? (Peter at PRC Hoops)
DA: I don’t think right now you can put Kobe in the same category as Michael Jordan. If you look at Kobe’s years in the league, which is 12 or 13 years, that is incredible. But he has three titles and MJ has six, and I don’t think you can compare right now.
I think Kobe is certainly the best player of his generation —no question. Like Bill Parcell says, its all about the [titles]—and you know Mr. Russelll has 11 so no one is catching him. Michael has six, so I think those two guys have to be considered as No. 1 and No. 2 in greatest players ever.
Q: There's only room for one Superman on Twitter. Looking solely at content, whose Twitter game is superior: Shaq or Dwight Howard? (Peter at PRC Hoops)
DA: I’m going to plead the fifth on this because I’m not a Twitter guy and Facebook is more than enough for me right now. I like to see the stuff that Shaq does here and there, like the meet-ups so I guess I’ll haveto give it to Shaq.
But, I’m old school and not on Twitter enough to make a good call.
Q: Your Facebook profile indicates that you went to DeMatha High School. Did you play ball for Morgan Wootten? If so, what was that experience like? How does he compare to the elite NBA coaches? (Peter at PRC Hoops)
DA: I did go to DeMatha, but I did not play for DeMatha. My game was not there [laughs].
But I do know Morgan Wootten well. He is as decent a human being as I’ve ever met, and he is a tremendous guy who is a very humble person. Even though I never played for him, I learned from him how to win with class and I’ve been fortunate to know him.
I see him as one of the more successful high school coaches and he does it in a way that doesn’t call attention to himself. He is a class act through and through. I’ve gotten to know him in school, and after school, and am very lucky to know him.
Q: What moves would you make if you were the Wizards in their situation?
DA: Well, I think they have to do two things: they have to get a point guard —not because Gilbert [Arenas] can’t play PG, but they have to start thinking about playing Gilbert off the ball because that’s his strength. I think a solid PG will do well—somebody they can give the ball to.
And also, somebody they can throw the ball to inside. They really struggle to score inside, and you can’t be a jump-shooting team and win in the playoffs at some point.
Even Orlando is an example, but they have a guy you can throw the ball to. You have to have someone inside to get the ball. They have talent, but they need to strike a balance. Those are the two moves I would make.
I would look to trading that pick. I think they might be able to get something out of it, but I’m not sure cause there are different views on how this draft is. I think this draft is about as good as most. It’s not a great draft, but it’s not horrible. You can get good players out of this draft.
I know they don’t want to trade one of those big three guys, but maybe they have to get someone they like such as Amar’e Stoudemire—they have to look at that.”
Q: The Magic seem to have a more balanced attack, while the Lakers are all about Kobe. What team do you see having the edge? Do you think it’s more important in the finals to have an insane scorer like Kobe Bryant or a low post presence like Dwight Howard? (Richie from MVN)
DA: I think Kobe has tried very hard this year to add balance to that team. I think the Lakers are much more balanced than a couple years ago. I think he trusts Pau and needs Pauto do and play well. He needs Ariza and Lamar Odom to play well.
In that sense, I think the Lakers are a very balanced team. They are a team that can score and their defense creates offense for them as well.
I think LA has the edge; same reason LA has had the edge in every series thus far. Their size up front is so difficult for other teams to match up with. You have two seven-footers in Gasol and [Andrew] Bynum, and throw in Ariza at six-eight and Odom and six-ten. It gives Phil [Jackson]some real flexibility with lineups and who’s going to go in stretch of games.
That’s why I think they have the advantage. Their interior defense is better than everyone else. Their guards and their bigs can single cover—playing help defense makes it difficult to score against.
Q: What are your thoughts on Obama picking the Lakers in Six?
DA: I did see that and I concur. Actually, I said that before, so Mr. President took my pick as Lakers in six games.
Q: In the NBA Finals press conference today, you asked Dwight about the officiating—are you working on a story for it and what is your angle and/or thoughts?
DA: I am working on a piece on NBA officiating, but I’m not sure when it will run or exactly figured out what I’m going to say and how I’m going to say it. It will definitely run during the NBA Finals, but it’s definitely a topic that everyone is talking about—and I want to take a serious look at the officials, because I did write a column on the NBA conspiracy theories and it will be along those same lines.
I got a lot of response from that, and a lot of people have strong views on officiating in the league. I really want to address those things in a very serious column and that’s what I’m going to try to do.
Coming up on NBA.com, I’m going to have my picks tomorrow (Lakers in six). I think everyone at NBA.com is going to have their picks up tomorrow for the finals so you will see some of the other writers’ picks, too.
Obviously, for the NBA Finals for NBA TV, we’ll be with Ahmad [Rashad], CWebb [Chris Webber], and [Gary] Payton for pre-game coverage at the Staples Center here in LA. After the game, me and Rick Kamla will be breaking stuff down and covering the pressers. Then, we’ll be on again with Ahmad, CWebb and Gary for post-game.
“When we go to Orlando for Game Three, we’re going to be having a lot of fun. We’ll have the NBA TV crew, plus Ernie, Chuck and Kenny so we’ll have so much new content on NBA.comand some great TV coverage both online and on NBA TV. It should be a fantastic series.
NBA Finals TweetChat
We are organizing a NBA Finals Twitter chat this Thursday night before and during the Magic vs. Lakers NBA Finals Game One. We’ll be chatting about the game, various highlights and any other NBA Finals subplots we can think of. Feel free to join us, and please invite your readers, too!
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Find everything NBA Finals at www.NBA.com