Throughout most of this season--and particularly after his 83-point outburst--people cluck-clucked about what a genius Jerry Buss was. Of course he traded the right player! Of course Shaq was washed up! The Mamba is the future!
Really? It's obvious that Shaq isn't what he used to be. But the Lakers almost certainly could have traded Kobe straight-up for Wade (and maybe they could have gotten some extra goodies, too). Maybe the Wade-Shaq Lakers could have won a title. Maybe not. But would the franchise be in better shape than it is now? You betcha.
Choosing Shaq over Kobe was an affront to the basketball gods. Last night's game was the beginning of their retribution. Having Wade and Shaq win the title and Kobe being exposed is so satisfying that the thought of Riley also getting another ring hardly bothers me at all.
PS: I would have preferred a Game 7 in the Finals, but even without that, this was the best playoffs the NBA has had in a long time, despite the fact that the Heat aren't a team for the ages. Could it be that the league has finally found its post-Jordan feet?
Update: Galley Brother B.J. weighs in on the Mamba and the post-game:
Could Shaq’s speech at the end have been any better? When he said, “Dwyane Wade is the greatest player in the NBA,” what he meant was, “Fuck you Kobe, I carried you to those rings and you were interchangeable with 10 other players in the league. I’ve won without you and you ain’t never gonna win without me unless you follow Payton’s career path.” When he said, “Pat Riley is the best coach I ever had,” what he meant was, “Phil, for going back to Kobe, you’re dead to me.”
I hope everyone really liked the shot of Mark Cuban clapping on court because it’s the last we’ll see of him for about 2 months. He won't surface again until someone stumbles across him in either a Eastern European hostel or a Southeast Asian opium den.