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Monday, April 4, 2011
Pressure mounting for Heat, Lakers

By Dick Vitale
ESPN.com

Talk about being under pressure during the NBA playoffs.

Down in Miami, the big question is: Will the Heat be champs or chumps? To many, putting up anything less than a championship banner would be disappointing. Just think about the tremendous introduction when LeBron James and Chris Bosh arrived to join Dwyane Wade down there.

Anything less than cutting down the nets and putting the gold trophy in the case down in the Sunshine State will be considered a failure by many. Remember all of the publicity and notoriety involved with this franchise.

Do you think Erik Spoelstra understands there is a lot of heat on his Miami team? Yes, this squad should get past Philadelphia, but the road to the Finals is not going to be easy.

Then you look at pressure on the Lakers, especially after losing Game 1 to the Hornets. Yes, the LA story was a positive one in Game 2 despite Kobe Bryant being held in check. He only cares about the W, baby!

This is the swan song for Phil Jackson in the last year he will grace the sidelines. You know he wants to go out with another championship to add to his incredible legacy. Can he go out with another three-peat, baby?

Is Jackson the greatest to ever coach? I just look at his resume and ask, how can you argue about this? I know some will say to look at his personnel, having Michael the Magnificent plus the combination of Kobe and Shaq.

Are you serious? Anybody who wins on the pro level has to have talent. The same can be said in college; did John Wooden haver talent when he had Lew Alcindor or Bill Walton in the middle? It starts with personnel but you also have to blend that talent as a unit. It is not easy to play as a cohesive force, and there is always the pressure of expectation, expectation, expectation.

My feeling is Zen Master Phil Jackson will go down as the greatest. Championship teams turn it up a notch come postseason. You can forget about the regular season, as it is a different world.

Kobe Bryant is one of the fiercest competitors I have ever seen. In the end, I think the two teams that people were looking at to make it to the Finals will get there.

Yes my friends, even with the pressure on, I still think it will be the Heat and the Lakers. Jackson and company will still get the gold trophy.

It is going to be fun to watch the ride as the pressure mounts for both of these teams.