- Marc Stein, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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Hall of Famer Jerry West, one of the anchors of the Los Angeles Lakers' 1971-72 team and now a front-office consultant to the Golden State Warriors, told ESPN.com on Wednesday night that he had started to believe the Heat, at the very least, would match the Lakers' all-time record of 33 consecutive wins.
"I really thought they were going to do it," West said by phone after the Heat lost to the Chicago Bulls 101-97, ending their winning streak at 27. "I really did.
"It's a remarkable streak. I wasn't rooting against them at all. At halftime [of the Chicago game], I thought they were going to win the game. But all you need sometimes is a few things to go wrong.
"I think they're looking for bigger fish to fry. You know they're trying to win another championship, so I think this is just a blip in the road for them. But this [streak] was great for basketball. It was a great accomplishment. It creates incredible fan interest.
"People will talk about this forever."
Some members of the current Lakers said after their win Wednesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves that they hadn't been keeping a countdown as the Heat crept toward 33.
"I guess now that it's over, it's nice that the Lakers still have it," guard Steve Blake said. "But it wasn't really followed too closely. We have too many other things for ourselves to worry about."
Still, Pau Gasol said what Miami was doing was pretty unavoidable.
"It's been all over the news," Gasol said. "Even if you don't follow it, you run into it."
Was Gasol "happy" it's over for the Heat?
"In a big way, I am," he said, before crediting his relationship with Bill Sharman, who coached that Lakers team, as the real reason he was rooting against Miami. "I love Bill and his wife. They're great people. I'm glad that they kept the streak, we kept the streak and it's about time that Miami lost."
Kobe Bryant chose to look at the streak from a basketball fan's perspective rather than as a Lakers player.
"I think just as a student of the game, as a fan of the game, you appreciate those kind of streaks and you realize how difficult it is to put together that big of a streak," Bryant said. "Obviously the Lakers winning 33 in a row was phenomenal, but the Heat's one was just as impressive."
Information from ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin was used in this report.
Hall of Famer Jerry West told ESPN.com on Wednesday night that he had started to believe the Heat, at the very least, would match the Lakers' all-time record of 33 wins in a row.