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The late actor, John Houseman was a British-American actor and film producer, perhaps best known for his role as Professor Charles W. Kingsfield, in the film and later television series "The Paper Chase", In 1973, he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the film, and he received 2 Golden Globe nominations as Best Actor in a Drama for his role in the television series.
"The Paper Chase" tells the story of a first year law school student at Harvard, and his experiences with Professor Kingsfield, the brilliant, demanding Contracts Law instructor whom he both idolizes and finds incredibly intimidating. Kingsfield employs what he refers to as the Socratic method of teaching. In the television series, he explains, "I call on you, I ask you a question and you answer it. Through my questions, you learn to teach yourself. You will never in my classroom, reach the final correct and ultimate answer. In my classroom, there is always another question. There's always a question to follow your answer."
One of Kingsfield's more famous quotes, to his students on their first day of class, was: "We do brain surgery here. You teach yourselves the law. I train your minds. You come in here with a skull full of mush, and if you survive, you leave thinking as a lawyer."
Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson uses a somewhat similar approach to coaching as well. He puts five players on the court and has them figure out for themselves what to do. With the exception of time-outs, seldom will you see instructions or advice being given during the game by either Jackson or his coaching staff. He wants those players that are on the court, to think and reason as basketball players.
This year's NBA Finals which begin on Thursday, renews a rivalry involving the two most storied franchises in NBA history, the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. Let's take a look at some statistics, including the history involving these two teams:
This time around, the Lakers hope to benefit from Ron Artest's defense and toughness
Let's take a look what some of the Celtics and Lakers key players are averaging in the playoffs thus far:
For the Celtics:
Paul Pierce - 19.1 points and 6.2 rebounds Ray Allen - 16.8 points Rajon Rondo - 16.7 points and 10.0 assists Kevin Garnett - 14.9 points and 8.2 reboundsFor the Lakers:
Kobe Bryant - 29.4 points and 6.2 assists Pau Gasol - 20.0 points and 10.9 rebounds Ron Artest - 11.5 points Lamar Odom - 10.6 points and 9.5 rebounds Andrew Bynum - 9.1 points and 7.7 rebounds
Lakers in best-of-seven series (includes NBA Finals series)
In order to win the title this year, the Lakers must: match Boston's physical play, play tenacious defense, control the boards at both ends, get consistent strong contributions from their bench, limit Rondo's effectiveness, work the ball inside, hope that Gasol, Bynum, Artest and Odom are not afraid to battle underneath, don't go overboard in their 3-point shooting.
In what is now their final exam, it is upon the Lakers to demonstrate what they have learned, and that they can think like basketball players. In "The Paper Chase", Professor Kingsfield tells Hart, his most brilliant student (who eventually gets an A in the class), "Mister Hart, here is a dime. Take it and call your mother, and tell her there is serious doubt about you ever becoming a lawyer."
How many times do you think that Lakers coach Phil Jackson has pondered telling the same thing to one of his players, even if they are in the NBA? There might have been such a possibility several years ago with the brilliant Bryant, when the two strong personalities often had their differences.
Now, Jackson would probably be inclined to utter a similar comment for the often maligned Sasha Vujacic, whose flagrant elbow to the head of the Suns Goran Dragic, swung the momentum and almost cost the Lakers Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. Instead, it was Bryant, when asked after the game, how he reacted when he saw Vujacic's elbowing of Dragic, replied, "I was gonna kill him". When asked if he still felt that way after the Lakers had won the series, Kobe replied, "I'm still gonna kill him."
Even Professor Charles W. Kingsfield would have smiled and agreed with that answer by the Lakers co-captain.