THE Lakers-Nuggets duel will essentially boil down to Anthony Davis versus Nikola Jokic. This time, LeBron James will stay at the back seat.
That seems to be the incontrovertible narrative.
But, wait, it’s not all cameo role for James, though. The King will still play an active part while seated on his throne. Imagine him being a back seat driver and you will not be rebuffed.
So, sit back, relax and enjoy the first game Wednesday of the fight-for-four finale featuring the worthiest contenders for the National Basketball Association (NBA) Western Conference crown.
Davis was his usual “board chairman” when he hauled down 20 rebounds in the Lakers’ series-clinching 122-101 win that eliminated defending champion Golden State Warriors in Game Six on May 13 at Crypton.com Arena in Los Angeles, CA.
He capped that effort with 17 points to more than back up LeBron’s 30 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists in spearheading the Lakers’ 24th Conference finals, the most by any team in NBA history.
But if Davis is the board chairman, Jokic is the beast.
Jokic, the massive two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, a 7-footer from Serbia, is almost a do-it-all giant. He can dribble. He can shoot from both near and far. He can stuff both a dunk and a put-back. He can spin-move. He can assist with insane ease, including no-look passes at the most unexpected times. He can rebound—mostly snatching offensive boards when no one’s looking.
And so, will Denver, No. 1 in the regular season, oust Los Angeles, No. 7 going into the playoffs?
In the end, LeBron James will still have the last say. Even if he’s already 38. Some are simply ageless.
Meanwhile, this shrill question: Did Gilas Pilipinas defeat Cambodia last night to grab back the men’s basketball gold in the SEA Games in Phnom Penh, Cambodia?
If the answer is yes, then prayers were answered. Against an import-laden Cambodia lineup (six were at least Americans), only divine intervention can make us gain redemption.
If the answer is no, we will still find solace in the fact that we ousted defending champion Indonesia, 84-76, in the semifinals. Indonesia it was that beat us last year in Vietnam, thereby ending our 30-plus years as SEA Games men’s basketball champion.
THAT’S IT Condolence to Mareng Paz and to the other loved ones of Hernando “Dick” Neri, including Mike, Candy & Greyson Magturo. Pareng Dick had passed on after a lingering illness at age 79. Soft spoken and exceedingly gentle in his ways, Pareng Dick, a consummate artist, was deeply admired by his television peers for his unparalleled professionalism. You will be missed, Pareng Dick.