Farewell Phil Jackson and our bid to 3Peat. Welcome to the hot seat coach Mike Brown. Thank you Brian Shaw, Jim Cleamons, Frank Hamblen and the rest of PJ’s staff. Get ready for a new look, a new offense and a revamped lakers-EDGE.com (Visit site)
Congratulations to new Minnesota Timberwolves coach, Kurt Rambis. The Wolves and Rambis have agreed to a 4-year contract estimated at over $8 million.
dEDGE Post Scriptum
The Minnesota Timberwolves appear keenly interested in Los Angeles Lakers Assistant Coach, Kurt Rambis. And with good reason I might add. Rambis is no stranger to the Lakers tradition of winning. As a member of the original cast of Showtime, Kurt executed the role of Clark Kent to perfection and did the yeoman’s share of the dirty work, collecting rebounds, making the outlet pass, playing hard-nosed defense, and protecting the paint by clearing out space so that Magic, Big Game James, Cap, B, and Coop had room to operate. Rambis was the blue collar, lunchpail carrying, black framed glasses wearing, Mr. Ordinary that every fan could identify with. Although most fans yearned to be like Magic Johnson, thrill the crowds like James Worthy, fly to the hoop ala Michael Cooper, or rain down jumpers like Byron Scott, Kurt Rambis was the player most could emulate out on the courts. His play was the result of hard work, perseverance, and hustle. What he lacked in physical talent, he made up for by never giving up on a play. It was Rambis who dove into the stands chasing down a loose ball. It was Rambis being clotheslined by Kevin McHale, who most personifies the Lakers/Celtics hatred for one another and their heated rivalry. And it was Rambis who never got the accolades or the attention, but was nonetheless recognized and rewarded by the organization that gave him his first chance.
Drafted in the 3rd round with the 58th pick out of Santa Clara in 1980 by the New York Knicks, Rambis was subsequently waived and played pro ball in Greece that year. It wasn’t until he was signed as a free agent by the Lakers in 1981 did he begin to make his mark. Unheralded and a relative unknown, Rambis made the team with his penchant for defense and his sheer grittiness. But the Lakers started the season in uncharacteristic fashion and with a lot of drama. Mired with a mediocre 7-4 record, Magic Johnson demanded to be traded. He claimed Coach Paul Westhead’s offense was stifling the team’s creativity, or better yet, his own. The next day, Westhead was fired and replaced by the tandem of Jerry West and Pat Riley. Riley eventually took the reins and the rest is history, but Rambis sat at the end of the bench, unsure if he would ever get the opportunity to play. His chance came soon enough. In December, newly acquired power forward Mitch Kupchak, blew out his knee and was lost for the season. It would take several years before Kupchak would ever able to play again. Needing to get some wins under his belt, as well as appease his disgruntled superstar, Riley decided to go with Rambis in the starting line-up because one, he didn’t look for his shot, and two, he did the dirty work that no one else would do. Rambis responded with 14 rebounds in his first start and Superman and Rambo was instantly born.
Rambis immediately blossomed in his new role and soon developed a legion of loyal fans at the Fabulous Forum, complete with mock black rimmed glasses and thick mustaches. Kurt went on to spend seven productive seasons with the Lakers, garnering four championship rings in the process. His desire to continue to play and the emergence of AC Green ultimately led him to his decision to leave the Lakers and play elsewhere. He continued his career with the Hornets, Suns, Kings and finally back to Los Angeles again to finish out his career. His dedication to his craft and preparedness for the games began to pique his interest in coaching as his playing days came to a close. Kurt found satisfaction in scouting opponents, devising defensive schemes and providing individual workouts with players who fit his mold. Kurt remains a lifer with the Lakers, and has always done what’s best for the organization. He briefly took over head coaching duties when Del Harris was fired midway through the 1999 season. His 24-13 mark was impressive in that he had to manage a budding superstar in Kobe Bryant, a equally vocal and effacious leader in Shaquille ONeal, and a distraction gone completely haywire in Dennis Rodman. Rambis was given brief attention for the full time gig during the ensuing off season, but the hiring of Phil Jackson and his full staff of Chicago Bulls assistants pushed Rambis out the door. Rambis was retained by the Lakers first as an Assistant General Manager, then eventually made his way back down onto the floor as part of Phil’s staff.
The pressure to step into the head coach position with the Los Angeles Lakers is not for the faint of heart. Take Rudy Tomjanovich for instance. Back-to-back championships in Houston paled in comparison to the pressure of winning in Los Angeles. On the occasions when Rambis has had to take the reins of the team, be it in the Summer Pro League, preseason games, or in Phil Jackson’s absence, he has shown remarkable growth and maturity since his days back in 1999 when he was thrust into the spotlight. His command of the players is complete now, his ability to make sound judgement and game time decisions honed from years of sitting next to the master. But there seems to be something missing. Coaches make their money when the game is on the line and the stakes are at its greatest. A single play or defensive execution can make the difference in a win or loss. And it is during these times that I find myself losing confidence in Kurt’s coaching decisions. I’ll be the first to admit that he has not had the opportunity to prove himself. Half a season, and almost a decade ago does not dictate what type of coach Kurt Rambis is or will be, nor does a handful of games spread out over the past few seasons.
But what bothered me back then, continues to gnaw at me today. I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s there on the periphery, like a looming dark shadow about to come down and snuff out all the light and goodness around you. Kurt’s not a bad guy, in fact he’s one of my all-time Laker favorites, but is he the successor to Phil Jackson and all that’s been built here? I’ve got to say, “No.” The best thing that could happen to both Rambis and Laker fans is for him to accept another head coaching position. Sacramento refused to pay his fair market value and Paul Westphal wanted back into the league at any cost. Philadelphia was simply trying to lure Eddie Jordan into making a commitment, but Minnesota appears genuinely interested in Rambis. I guess enough Celtics failure with Kevin McHale has made owner Glen Taylor believe in a total make-over. But what this opportunity does provide is an audition for the Lakers coaching hot seat later down the road. I truly believe that Kurt Rambis will make a good, if not great head coach. He just needs some mileage under his belt and the confidence that goes along with having experienced it firsthand.
By proving himself elsewhere, Rambis’ acclimation period back to the Lakers would be removed. His intimate familiarity with the personnel, staff and front office would only enhance his ability to succeed from Day 1. But this all happens after he tests the water for himself, without the assistance of many of the NBA’s best of the best available at his fingertips. Rambis needs to go out on his own, become wizened and polished, and return as the new Guru, not remain here as the guru in waiting. Quietly, Byron Scott has been honing his coaching skills with stints in New Jersey and New Orleans. Don’t fool yourself for even a second thinking that he wouldn’t be interested in returning to the Lakers when this enviable position becomes available. Kurt needs to do the same thing. Not because I favor Byron Scott over him, or because I want Phil Jackson to stay on forever, but for the simple reason of creating his own coaching style and establishing his own winning credentials, so that one day he can return back to Los Angeles, and confidently take his seat on the throne.
dEDGE Post Scriptum
Hot off the official website of the Los Angeles Lakers: “The Lakers and free agent forward Lamar Odom have reached a verbal agreement on a multi-year contract, according to Odom’s agent Jeff Schwartz. Lakers spokesman John Black confirmed that the two sides have reached an agreement and hope to have a signed contract in the next few days.”
dEDGE Post Scriptum
He’s creepy and he’s kooky,
mysterious and spooky.
He’s all together ooky.
His house is an arena,
where people come to see him.
He really is a scream.
(A freak) (He’s cheap) (Let’s repeat)
So sit down next to B. Shaw.
Kobe’s back you can crawl on.
We’re gonna pay a call on.
Some of you may be frightened at the thought of what could possibly happen should our newest Laker dive off the deep end. Well, rest assured zealot Laker fans, we have survived far more fearsome thunderstorms with even larger combatants and egos before Ron Artest could even mumble the word, “controversy.” Los Angeles is well suited and adeptly prepared for any zaniness that Ron-Ron may bring to Staples Center. Sure, his crazy sprint into the stands at the Palace still ranks as one of the most inexcusable athlete/fan meltdowns in modern U.S. sports history, but you could have plugged a handful of other NBA ballers into that incident that would have reacted exactly the same way as Artest. OK, maybe not…
Regardless, Lakers drama is par the course for any NBA season. That this past season culminated in another championship without any earth shattering news fodder should be the bigger headline than grabbing their 15th title. When it’s all quiet on the Western front, no one outside of Los Angeles seems to be paying attention. Perhaps Jerry Buss thought it was time to rattle the cage and stir up some headlines again. But how do you create a national buzz after having just blown out the Orlando Magic in a less than dramatic NBA Finals? Simple, you set the stage for even more drama and mayhem by jostling the line-up.
Ron-Ron has a lot of catching up to do if he ever wants to garner his share of tabloid headlines. I mean, think about it… the whole Kobe & Shaq marriage, divorce and reconciliation, this alone could stretch out to be an entire volume. How about Showtime’s Magic & Paul Westhead butting heads? Or Dennis Rodman’s brief stint in purple and gold lamé? Want more? How about the Kobe & Karl spat, and for that matter, Coby Karl’s spygate episode. Remember Glen Rice’s wife and the ruckus she made? Isaiah Rider? Mr. Cancun and Mr. Havasu? How about Big Game James and his big pajama party? Wilt and his 10,000 conquests. Even Andrew Bynum’s got game hanging out with Hugh Hefner and offering up piggy-back rides.
How about Spencer Haywood practicing voodoo and casting spells in the locker room? Or Kwame Brown and his penchant for birthday cakes? Kobe asking to be traded, then not, then again… What about Sedale Threat and his caravan of love of Shawn Kempian proportions? Or, All-Star snowboarding with Vlade Radmanovich and the boys? As you can see, the list goes on and on and any Artest contribution would just be another blip on the radar. Plus, we’ve got Mannywood to occupy the newspapers for a while at least.
So before you get yourself worked up in a lather longing for the good ol’ days with Trevor Ariza, sit back, crack one open and enjoy the rest of your summer. Because come October, you’ll need to strap yourself in for what appears to be another wonderful and memorable ride with the Los Angeles Lakers.
dEDGE Post Scriptum
My initial thoughts were that of disbelief and sadness. It had only been a few weeks since the jubilant and joyous Los Angeles Lakers victory parade past Staples Center down to the Memorial Coliseum celebration, and yet already we’re throwing dirt on Trevor Ariza like a distant memory, faded and eroded into oblivion. Have we forgotten his key plays throughout the playoffs that propelled us into the NBA Finals? Have we disregarded his work ethic over the past summer that enabled him to connect on 47.6% of his three pointers in these same playoffs? Have we as a society, become too concerned with today and tomorrow and have disregarded what had happened yesterday?
Perhaps I could have stomached this better if the deal took place right before training camp. Or if Ariza’s representatives and Mitch Kupchak were embroiled over a bitter dispute over millions of dollars. But what this boils down to was a premeditated stalking by Ron Artest and a backroom handshake that blossomed into Ariza’s departure. Had Ron-Ron possessed any self dignity, he wouldn’t have been following Kobe Bryant around all post-season, or into the showers for that matter… Instead of plotting his revenge with his Rocket teammates, he decided to cast off and jump ship. Hell, if you can’t beat ‘em, you might as well join ‘em.
Tampering issues aside, this deal was brokered by Artest’s persistence. Unfortunately for Ariza, he was caught in the middle with little hope of returning. Could Trevor have accepted the Lakers initial offer? Sure. But come on, who ever say’s yes to the first offer? Do you just plop down the asking price for the car you want even though in your mind there are no other options? Of course not, that would be foolish of you not to try and negotiate. But as soon as Ariza indicated that he wanted to negotiate, he was shown the door in favor of an older model with some dents on the fender and slightly more mileage on the odometer.
I could list a number of reasons why Ron Artest is a better player than Trevor Ariza. I could also, and will probably do so in the not so distant future, write about how Ron Artest single handedly keyed a Lakers victory or clutched one from the hands of defeat. But this is not about Ron Artest. This is about Trevor Ariza and the contributions that he made which helped bring the 2009 NBA Championship to the city of Los Angeles. Without his timely offensive and defensive contributions, the Los Angeles Lakers would not have won the title, let alone, made it past our Western Conference foes.
Do not forget the steal. The Western Conference Finals would have gotten off to a horrible start had Trevor not cut into the passing lane and picked off the inbounds pass to Chauncey Billups. We could easily have been down 0-2 going back to Denver. And again in Game 3 on the road, Ariza picks off a Kenyon Martin inbounds pass and forces Carmelo Anthony to commit his sixth foul putting the Lakers up by 4 with under half a minute to play. He saved two games all by himself.
Do not forget the big shots. The acrobatic windmill jam that posterized Dahntay Jones. The corkscrew slam in traffic. The key treys in Game 5 of the Finals that effectively caused the Orlando Magic to float to the surface, belly-up and eyes closed.
Do not forget the passion. Head-to-head with Hedo Turkoglu, calmly explaining to the Turkish forward of his impending date with defeat. Eye-to-eye with the entire Portland bench after his near swat on Rudy Fernandez. Barking at Sasha Vujacic for jacking up another selfish shot and not running the intended play.
Do not forget the intangibles. He never complained or created any off-court drama. He did what was asked of him. He was a good teammate and a fierce competitor. He improved over last season and was intent on further improvement. He made big plays amongst a roster full of stars. (Think of the contributions that players like Kurt Rambis, AC Green, and Rick Fox had brought to championship teams of the past.) He did not demand the ball, the limelight, or the attention, but always rose to the occasion.
It’s hard not to cheer for someone who finally makes it, through hard work, perseverance and dedication. It’s even more difficult when that person is homegrown and part of the community. Top it off with the fact that he appears to be a genuine nice guy, and his departure is akin to your best friend moving away clear across town. Sure, we’ll all learn to eventually like the new kid, but this wasn’t a move that Ariza chose to take. He was the jilted lover, the good guy that finished last, the sidekick and the supporting actor. Never truly forgotten, but never truly remembered either.
You want fellows like Ariza to succeed. I’d love for him to score 40 points against his former teammates, but only as long as the Lakers prevail and win the game. I hope he becomes a perennial all-star to prove his doubters wrong, as long as the Lakers keep beating the Rockets. And I hope that he’ll consider coming back home once our replacement model breaks down and it’s time to go car shopping again. Thank you and good luck Trevor Ariza. I for one will not forget you.
dEDGE Post Scriptum
With the season officially over and the Los Angeles Lakers crowned as the 2009 NBA champions, here are my final observations of the just concluded 5-game match-up with the Orlando Magic.
Celebrity Row: Tiger Woods. Spike Lee. Serena Williams. Chris Brown. Rihanna. (fortunately, they were at different games) Diddy. Mark Wahlberg. Hewell Houser. Common. Dylan McDermott. Laurence Fishburne. Ice Cube. Flea. Anthony Kiedis. Andy Garcia. Dyan Cannon. Denzel. Penny. Lou Adler. Jack. Ron Artest. Bill Russell. AC Green. Robert Horry. Gary Payton.
Pre-game psyche-job – DJ Mbenga, strutting around in a black wife beater, looking bigger and more menacing than Dwight Howard. Jeffrey Osborne, doing what he does best after a 7-year absence. The refs taking control of the game and not allowing the players to play. Kobe, leading by example. All others looking nervous and tentative. Finally facing the ghosts of last season’s collapse against Boston. The Lakers on offense, not clicking on all cylinders but still leading by 18 points. The Lakers on defense, simply put, exemplary. Kobe in the Twilight Zone. Jack Nicholson, praising Kobe or Allah, not quite sure which. Orlando in complete disarray. Jameer Nelson, welcome addition or monkey wrench thrown into a well-oiled machine. Rashard Lewis’ disappearing act in Game 1. Speedy point guard Rafer Alston, slowed down to a crawl on the 405 by Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmar.
Jeff Van Gundy exclaiming about Kobe’s scowl, “Wow! He looks mean!” Kris Allen, American Idol and Game 2 warm-up act. Clang… Orlando-15, Lakers-15 after the first period. A familiar line, Andrew Bynum, 2 quick fouls. Rashard Lewis – 18 points in the 2nd quarter. Hedo Turkoglu – 17 points in the 3rd quarter. Bynum with the “shake and bake” move in the paint to freeze Howard. Lamar Odom not giving up on the fast break and swatting away a gimme. Trevor Ariza and his “poke” on Dwight Howard in the post. Courtney Lee with the missed layup. A chance for Orlando to win… sorry, overtime. Offensive interference or no call? J.J. Redick with the costly turnover, D-Fish capitalizing on the miscue by drawing the foul on Turkoglu. Kobe with the dish on the triple-team to a wide open Pau Gasol. Lakers 2-0, heading to the sweltering Magic Kingdom.
The bandwagon is starting to get full again… Skip-to-my-Lou replaces Rafer Alston in the starting line-up. Kobe’s 4-point play. The Mamba scores 17 points in a span of 5:17 in the 1st quarter. Orlando shoots 75% from the field in the first half. Jordan Farmar, point guard of the future again. Great defensive block-out on Superman by Andrew Bynum. Kobe chomping on the Wrigley’s. Another JVG gem in reference to Kobe, “He’s not tired. He’s not hurt. He’s indestructible!” Missed free throws do the Lakers in. Dwight Howard finally makes an appearance in the Finals. Pietrus with the follow-up jam. Pietrus with the steal. Kobe looking human with 7 turnovers. Phil commenting, “We’re all frail as humans…” Orlando gains some confidence, but the Lakers don’t lose any.
Everybody in foul trouble in the first quarter. The oldest guy on the floor diving for a loose ball. The Bench Mob cheering on the starters. Turkoglu, becoming a Sacramento Queen in crunch time. D-Fish – Big, big three pointer to tie the score. Jameer Nelson, horrible defense or none at all. The Magic without a go-to guy. Orlando’s collapse with the win in the bag. D-Fish quiets the crowd once again in overtime by splashing another triple. Gasol with the breakaway dunk. Gasol and Pietrus go face-to-face after the flagrant foul. Ssssss… someone just let the air out of the blue and white balloon. Did the Lakers win or did Orlando choke? It’s over but it’s not over. Puppet Lebron pumping to 2010.
The thud heard all around Los Angeles from dropping hearts when Kobe dislocates his ring finger, again. A collective exhale, as Kobe doesn’t miss a single play. Trevor and Hedo, head-to-head like butting Billy goats. Ariza with the trey to take the lead for good. A 16-0 run by the Lakers. The Lakers smelling blood. LO in the corner, calling from long distance, twice. Mark Jackson musing, “Orlando had a plan… until they got hit.” A smile breaks out. Chants of MVP! MVP! MVP! ring out in Orlando. Another cookie. Redemption. Let’s have a parade with the Laker Girls…
Part II of a series of great moments in Lakers history.
dEDGE Post Scriptum
Unable to leave the game that he loved on his own terms, or even say farewell to his multitude of fans, Magic Johnson had one last opportunity to do so. It was a far cry from that sad, sad, November day in 1991, when Earvin Magic Johnson announced his immediate retirement from basketball and the Los Angeles Lakers after contracting HIV. Not much was known about the disease back then, but all indications pointed towards a sure death sentence. Apprehension, fear and ignorance were all part of the 1992 NBA All-Star game held in Orlando. What the league attempted to do was to allow Magic a last moment in the spotlight, and a chance to say “thanks” and “good-bye.”
The 1991-92 season started in a somber mood and cast an even more dreadful pallor over the Lakers. Even Chick Hearn couldn’t muster the strength to stir enough life into his broadcasts. Instead, everyone kept referring back to Magic’s plight and the state of his health. When the All-Star ballots came out, Magic was soon the leading vote-getter in the West. He hadn’t even played a single game, yet the fans were calling on him for one last curtain call. NBA Commissioner David Stern asked Magic if he would like to play, and after some brief deliberation, agreed wholeheartedly. But the same could not be said for a lot of the players who were scheduled to play alongside of him. What happened if he got cut? Would I be infected? What if his sweat splashes into my eyes? These statements seem ridiculous now, but turn back the clock to an era of eraser-heads, fades and compression shorts, and there was a true panic spreading throughout the league.
Every NBA player felt the reverberations when Magic made his announcement to the world. Many cried in disbelief while others shuddered in their own fear of the unknown. Magic’s disclosure not only brought the disease to the forefront, but it also had many players rethinking their casual lifestyles and propensity to “hook up” on the road. “I couldn’t play. We had a game against the Boston Celtics that night, we were on the road. I cried. I really did, because here is a friend no longer being able to play and, more important, has a terminal disease,” recalls former Atlanta Hawks star, Dominique Wilkins. “When some of the players decided that they did not want to play, I called a players’ meeting,” said former Bad Boy Isiah Thomas. “I wanted to make sure all the players got out on the court and everyone dealt with it in a professional manner.” And soon thereafter, even a vocal Karl Malone reluctantly accepted the notion that there was little harm in playing side-by-side with him.
The game itself was a global event and even more so with Magic suiting up to play. Golden State Warrior Tim Hardaway was slated to start at point guard, but quickly gave up his spot so that Magic could start. Magic teamed up with fellow West squaders, Clyde Drexler, Chris Mullin, Karl Malone and David Robinson. They were pitted against the East team represented by starters, Thomas, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, (in place of an injured Larry Bird), Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, and led by first timer Chicago Bulls coach, Phil Jackson. The festivities began with a two-minute standing ovation when Magic was introduced. The West had lost the previous 3 of 4 meetings and the game plan from the start was crystal clear. Get the ball to Magic and run. Western Conference Coach Don Nelson made it clear that this was Magic’s moment in the spotlight and he went out of his way to make sure that his players understood that. All that was left was for Magic to actually play the game.
No one really knew what kind of shape he was in, and initially the East guards backed off of him almost in fear of somehow hurting him. But it soon became apparent that this was the same old Magic, capable of taking over games and destroying the opposition with his pin-point passing accuracy. Not until a clobbering foul by Dennis Rodman did the game finally find its groove. The West sprinted to a 44-31 lead after the 1st quarter. Drexler and Malone were early recipients of no-look dishes by Magic and soon the buzz in the O-rena was electric. NBC televised the contest with Dick Enberg and Mike Fratello calling the action. Fittingly, Enberg had also called the NCAA title game between Magic’s Michigan State Spartans and Larry Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores. The West went on to outscore the East in every single quarter and pummeled them with a resounding 153-113 victory. The game showed that Magic was still in his prime, and soon thereafter, secured his spot as a member of the original Dream Team that went on to win the Gold at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Any lingering doubts about Magic’s health were dismissed late in the 4th quarter. With the game out of reach and the crescendo from all of the excitement starting to wan, Magic and Isiah took it upon themselves to inject some excitement back into the game. Often in the past, the two would take matters into their own hands by speeding up the game with Isiah displaying his incredible dribbling skills, countered by Magic’s brilliance on the fast break. After Magic dropped in a three-pointer from the wing, Thomas started the affair by initiating his dribbling act, high stepping and tip-toeing through the key, and found a wide open Michael Adams for an uncontested three pointer of his own. Magic countered by bringing the ball up court and swishing another trey, this time in Thomas’ face. Thomas playfully shoved Magic in the back as the two made their way back up the court. Magic then found a wide open Chris Mullin on the wing and he too, drained a bomb from behind the arc. Magic then fired a no-look pass from 27-feet out to a cutting Dan Marjerle under the basket for an easy reverse lay-in.
On the ensuing trip up the court, Magic and Thomas motioned for the others to clear out. Isiah implored Magic to try to defend him as he went into his dribbling act. The rest of the players obliged and stood off in pure unadulterated joy, as they witnessed the two close friends go at it. Isiah dribbled the ball so low off the ground that even Globetrotter Curly Neal would have applauded. He faked, pounded the rock through his legs, behind his back, all while Magic stood in his defensive posture. Finally, Thomas drove and pulled up for a 15-footer that drew nothing but air. Magic raised his hands in victory as his teammates ran out for a fast break jam. Magic then motioned for Air Jordan. And Michael obliged the request. The side cleared out again as Magic challenged His Airness to bring it on. With the entire arena on its feet, Jordan faked left, then darted right for his trademark fall away, but Magic defended the signature move by contesting the shot, and this time, the ball bounced harmlessly off the rim.
Magic got the ball and called out both Thomas and Jordan to try to stop him. Thomas and Jordan zoomed in for the double-team and forced Magic to kick the ball out to Drexler. Jordan, in prevent mode, draped Magic so that he could not get the ball back. But Drexler, understanding the significance of the moment tossed the ball back to Magic which left Isiah isolated on him at the top of the key. Magic glanced at the shot clock and began backing down Thomas, and as he got him on his hip anticipating a drive, Magic stepped back behind the arc and launched a three pointer that brought down rain and exploded through the net. It was the storybook ending to a storybook game. The quarter still had 14.5 seconds showing on the clock, but the game ended on that magical shot as he was greeted by his teammates who exchanged high fives and hugs. Both benches emptied onto the court and Earvin Magic Johnson basked in all of the glory and love for one more time. Magic posted a game high 25 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds, and garnered the MVP Award. Enberg called it best, saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, you can’t orchestrate it any better than that.” We all had tears of joy and felt the emotional charge that radiated throughout the arena. And for one day, Laker fans were able to see Magic Johnson compete again, at the highest level and on the biggest stage, healthy, happy and full of life.