Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

June 1, 12:04 PM ET
Chat with Marc Stein

Marc Stein
  (5:30 PM)

Hello, all. Good to be with you again.

Marc Stein
  (5:30 PM)

We'll get in as much as I can before I head to the airport . . . obviously no shortage of topics to discuss.

James, Lansing, MI

I think the matchups favor Orlando, what's you take?

Marc Stein
  (5:32 PM)

The Magic are always going to cause matchup problems because no one else has multiple 6-10 guys who can handle and shoot it like they have with Hedo and Rashard. That's the reason -- besides Dwight -- that they've been able to do so much damage even without Jameer.

Marc Stein
  (5:33 PM)

But the Lakers have a crew that can hurt Orlando in a lot ways. It's a much more problematic matchup for the Magic than the Cavs were since the Lakers have bigs who can, you know, actually score and make Dwight and Rashard work.

Marc Stein
  (5:34 PM)

Also can't deny that I do think that the Magic will need at least a game to get a feel for the big stage. The Finals are undeniably different. Experience will be a factor.

Alex, Nova Scotia

John Hollinger picks L.A in 6, should Laker fans be worried?

Marc Stein
  (5:36 PM)

I picked the same. And I'm sure Magic fans will love to hear that because I've been wrong on them for two straight rounds. Congrats to Brian Levine, my most faithful Magic e-mailer, for seeing his boys make it back to the title round after all these years. Now let's see if all of us picking L.A. have it wrong. Can Orlando finally lift the dreaded Curse of the Shaq-ino?

David (St Paul, MN)

Does Phil Jackson's legacy take a hit is he leaves 9-3 in the Finals?

Marc Stein
  (5:37 PM)

Undoubtedly. Kobe's takes the bigger hit, but it would be a stain on both resumes for those two to lose in the Finals three times in a row.

Jason (Orlando, Florida)

Why do you think that you were the only one between you, Bucher, and Simmons to actually believe that the Magic were a decent team that could go far in the playoffs?

Marc Stein
  (5:40 PM)

Not true. Have to put my hand up and say that I gave up on them with the way the Magic finished the regular season and then struggled so badly against Philly and a shell of the Celtics. I liked them for most of the regular season with Jameer, but I'm definitely on the list of know-it-alls who got shown up by Stan and Dwight.

Jason (Orlando, Florida)

Why do you believe that everybody had the Cavs just smashing the Magic when all the indicators pointed to there atleast being a competitive series?

Marc Stein
  (5:43 PM)

Because all indications DIDN'T lead you to believe that the Magicians would play as well as they did. Not after they struggled so much to take out the KG-less Celts. I don't think there's any question that the long layoff hurt the Cavs in Game 1, but that alibi only works for one game. The Magic became a different team after they realized they very easily could have won both games in Cleveland and went to a gear we didn't know they had without Jameer. At least that's how I see it, even acknowledging the fact that they've always been Cleveland's worst nightmare.

Vivek (Palo Alto, CA)

Just heard that Lebron is not being fined for skipping the post press conference. Can this really be true? This is really All-Star treatment. Say it ain't so.

Marc Stein
  (5:46 PM)

No way you fine a guy as accessible as LeBron always is for not talking one time. It's not a fineable offense. But a slammable offense? Definitely. Far more surprising to me is how little criticism LBJ received for his response to the Game 6 elimination until today. No matter what he says now, LeBron was in the wrong. He had to shake hands with Dwight, Stan, Hedo, etc., after that game and take questions from us media scoundrels. That's part of the job. And I think he knows that he made a mistake.

Alex (Paris, France)

Why LeBron explains he loves Cleveland, while wearing a New York cap ?

Marc Stein
  (5:50 PM)

On the flip side, LeBron's Yankees fetish doesn't bother me at all. I can certainly understand why it freaks out Clevelanders, but let's face it. He obviously wants to keep the pressure on Cavs management to keep upgrading the team and little gestures like that have an effect. Separate issue to me.

reed kepe (Arlington, VA)

In NBA, as with all sports, there's a tremendous amount of "If we don't win the championship, we're worthless" talk that the players spout to the media. What teams that didn't make it to the championship this year do you think are genuinely proud of how far they've come?

Marc Stein
  (5:52 PM)

Denver for sure. Houston did itself proud taking the Lakers to seven after losing Yao in the middle of that series. The Bulls showed us a little something, too, with how they surged into the playoffs late in the season and gave us such a good show against the Celts. That's off the top of my head. . . . who am I leaving out?

Ron (LA, Ca)

Why wouldnt you fine him? NBA fines everyone else except him... You say its a wonder why he receive little criticism about his unsportsmanship, but you're part of the media, so why don't you?

Marc Stein
  (5:55 PM)

Because he makes himself available more than a lot of players his stature. Fining him ain't necessary. The heat he's getting today is punishment enough,

Dennis (Orlando, FL)

Please explain to me how LA's bigs are so much better than Cleveland, Boston or Philadelphia. Only Perkins gave Dwight a problem and LA has nobody of that size or who plays that physical.

Marc Stein
  (5:56 PM)

They can all SCORE. The Cavs had no one like that. The way you take Rashard out of his game is making him work at the other end.

Rob (Chicago)

If I were a Celtics fan, I would be proud of how they played. I feel they gave maximum effort for 14 games.

Marc Stein
  (5:58 PM)


D-12 (Orlando)

I am patiently waiting here for Nike to start shooting my puppet commercial!

Marc Stein
  (5:59 PM)

I really hope not. Can't stand those puppet commercials. Never want to see another. My favorite recent commercial, for reasons I can't fully explain, is that Captain Morgan "Four Guys" spot where that crew scams their way to legendary status.

clarence, New jersey

Denver went out with a wimper. How can they be proud. Melo/chauncey/kmart/nene. On paper they were as good as lakers and they only managed 2 wins

Marc Stein
  (6:00 PM)

Dare I say that they had a rather sweet run when you take it all in.

Eric (New York, NY)

Steiny Mo! Seems like everyone else has weighed in on the officiating this playoffs - what's your take? If Magic in 6 killed the idea of a vast NBA conspiracy (which hopefully it did), then what's the answer? Just more training?

Marc Stein
  (6:07 PM)

I'm sure there will be people who say there was a conspiracy to put Orlando in the Finals to prove there is no conspiracy. The best suggestion I've heard -- as much as it pains me to admit -- comes from Simmons with his NBA Referee Academy idea. Why isn't the league shifting some of the millions spent on other stuff toward improving the refs? HOWEVER . . . I still have my doubts about who would be teaching the classes at this school, who would be taking the classes, etc. No one has ever been able to tell me where we're going to find the "better" refs everyone seems to believe are out there. Refereeing in my two favorite worlds -- NBA and footy -- will always drive people nuts and cause ulcers in the stands and spawn conspiracies because the mistakes are so easy to pick out on replays and because there are so many opportunities during these fast-moving games to make mistakes.

Daniel (Bloomington, IN)

Ps. Dwight is sponsored by Adidas. So there will be no Nike Dwight puppet.

Marc Stein
  (6:12 PM)

Good point. I should have caught that being an absolute adidas freak. Which reminds me: My six-year-old son Alexander The Greatest is picking the Magic and his beloved DH-12 to win this series. So someone in this house is guaranteed to be right.

Daniel (Bloomington, IN)

What is your take on the possible return of Jameer Nelson? Could he hurt the team's chemistry so late in the year?

Marc Stein
  (6:14 PM)

No way he hurts the chemistry. From everything I've heard, if he doesn't take such an active role in helping to get Dwight and Stan back on the same page after Game 5 in the Boston series, Orlando wouldn't be in the Finals anyway. Normally I'm Mister Safety First but I would love to see Jameer give it a shot in this series AS LONG AS HE REALLY CAN'T HURT HIMSELF WORSE. I don't think it's the best idea for Orlando's long-term future but it would certainly spice up the Finals.

Blair (Houston, Tx)

Like you opinion on this.. TMac x Ben, Sasha, filler? Thanks

Marc Stein
  (6:20 PM)

Intrguing. Interesting gamble because it's only a one-year marriage to T-Mac . . . although we really have no idea how healthy he'll actually be next season. Fact is, Cleveland's options could be somewhat limited because it can really only offer teams cap relief with the expiring contracts you mention. The Cavs don't have a lot of youth or attractive assets (draft picks or otherwise) to package with their expiring deals. Offering, say, Ben and J.J. Hickson isn't going to fetch an Amare Stoudemire. They might be able to get a quality player -- Vince Carter's name will be thrown out plenty -- if they're willing to take back a longer contract. But that gets very expensive. And risky if the trade Cleveland makes doesn't convince LeBron to stay.

Ryan (Los Angeles)

There is no curse of Shaq-ino if the Magic didn't actually win a title with him there.

Marc Stein
  (6:21 PM)

Shaq left for L.A. after, what, four years in Orlando? You're telling me you're not curious what might have happened if he hadn't stayed longer?

Brian (Beverly Hills, CA)

Do you think people are overreacting to Odom's candy habit?

Marc Stein
  (6:23 PM)

This is 2009. We overreact to everything.

James (London)

With Ireland signed to a new deal and Robinho saying he's happy at City, who needs to be bought this summer to ensure the top six finish the owners want?

Marc Stein
  (6:26 PM)

A real, live, strong, goalscoring and hold-the-ball-up frontman. If we're going to keep playing with one striker, that's the missing link. Fortunately we have zillions to go get one.

Marc Stein
  (6:27 PM)

Thanks to all for your questions. I'm sure we'll be doing this again soon.