The Gulp War

So How Good Are the Nets? We'll Find Out.

The 2002 Lakers smell a lot like the 2001 Yankees. They're the prohibitive favorites, the defending champs, looking to extend a streak, and they fought back from a historic hole to get here. And you remember how that one turned out for the Yankees.

The problem for the other half of the YankeeNets is that this isn't baseball. Two hot starting pitchers can turn around a short series, but this is basketball, and the Lakers can and will find a way to counter Jason Kidd. Shaq's rebounding may even neutralize Kidd's running game. And in the half court, Kidd'll be guarded by the league's best one-on-one defender in Kobe, and if Kidd does happen to penetrate, he'll get a 370-pound greeting card in the lane. At least until Todd McCulloch can hit enough jumpers to make Mr. O'Neal pay attention. (Stop laughing, please.)

Indeed, if there's a white guy who's likely to make the difference in this series, it's Phil Jackson. Here's a guy going for 10 championship rings, and yet he gets no props. The last time he lost a playoff series, Byron Scott was still playing. Forget the New Age bullshit, Jackson is all about knowing when to kick butt (dressing down Kobe and Shaq in Game Seven against the Kings for loafing on defense) and knowing when to Zen out. Unlike Isiah Thomas or Paul Silas or Jim O'Brien, Jackson's watched his team go down by 13 in the final quarter of a Game Seven. And because he didn't panic, his team didn't either. Unfortunately for the Nets, and the guy at the tennis club, the Lakers have the only white guy that they need to complement Shaq and Kobe.

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