Heads up, Phil Jackson. You're not the only principal in this Western Conference finals willing to toss verbal shots across the bow.
Before Phoenix's practice Tuesday, Amar'e Stoudemire was asked about Lamar Odom's monster effort in last night's 128-107 Game 1 victory. I guess STAT truly values him a stat, because it takes at least 20 in the scoring and rebound columns for Stoudemire to deem a performance stellar. But 19 and 19 requires merely a horse shoe. As reported by ESPNLA.com's Dave McMenamin:
"I'm not giving him no hype right now; he had a lucky game in Game 1," Stoudemire said after practice Tuesday at Staples Center. "We just got to make sure we box him out. I think I focused so much on [Pau] Gasol and [Andrew] Bynum to where he snuck in there and got 19 boards, so now we just got to make sure there's three guys out there that can rebound well [when] adding Odom. So, we got to do a better job on them."
Comments like these qualify as the kind better left inside oneself than expressed to a sea of microphones.
For starters, Amar'e needs a refresher on his franchise's recent history books. As Stoudemire should be well aware (since he was, ya know, there), Odom averaged 19/11/4 during the 2006 series against Phoenix and 19/13 in 2007, the latter featuring a 33/10 Game 5 notched despite a shoulder in need of surgery. Dude has absolutely owned the Suns in the postseason. Not that I'm expecting LO to average 19/19 throughout the WCF, but he's clearly capable of damaging this opponent. You wanna label DJ Mbenga, perhaps pushed into extended minutes because of foul trouble, coming through with 19/19 as "lucky?" Fine. All due respect to Congo Cash, I can buy that assessment.
LO? Not so much.
Plus, purely playing devil's advocate, let's say LO actually did back into this showing by accident. Do you really want to take a chance on motivating Odom to do it again? Or to motivate the Lakers to spend even more time specifically attacking you on defense? (Although, as Brian will eventually share in an upcoming post, it would be stunning if the Lakers aren't planning to do this more often anyway.)
Any way you slice it, not the sharpest moment on Stoudemire's resume.
For his part, Odom didn't take the bait, nor was his own horn tooted. Like I said, the guy's no stranger to beating up Phoenix during the postseason, so from his perspective, the night really wasn't all that special. In a roundabout way, I guess LO actually agrees with Stoudemire:
Odom's teammates and coach took a similar high road, offering instead some variation of a famous sentiment: You make your own luck.
Derek Fisher's example was particularly interesting. He recently saw Mick Jagger interviewed by Larry King, and the iconic singer freely copped to the fair share of luck enjoyed by the Rolling Stones along the way to becoming one of music's most successful bands. Might as well come clean, since 40+ good years are almost impossible without the ball bouncing your way a few times. And there's no shame in this admission, because the same principle applies to the anonymously fortunate, albeit with less sex, drugs and rock and roll attached. While there are unquestionably people born under the proverbial bad sign, I honestly believe most people find themselves unexpectedly staring down a lucky break at some point in their life. The difference between "lucky" and "cursed" is often the recognition of opportunities, than the willingness to work hard capitalizing on them.
(On an unrelated note, I also love Pau Gasol joking in the first video below about his black eye helping his "persona." As much as Gasol resents being tagged with the "soft" label, it's nice to see he's occasionally able to laugh about it.)
Gasol, on utilizing the Lakers' size advantages and being mindful of getting back in transition:
Fisher and Jackson on the team's improved play since a Game 4 loss to the Thunder in the first round. The Lakers have since reeled off seven straight wins: