Advertisement

NBA FINALS / GAME 3 / LAKERS 106, NEW JERSEY 103

Motivation Certainly Isn't a Problem

Lakers: Fox, teammates are still upset by remarks made by Kings and they look forward to playing them next season.

June 10, 2002|STEVE SPRINGER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Clear a spot on the New Jersey Nets' bulletin board.

The Lakers have identified the enemy and focused on their goal. They want the Sacramento Kings. They are shooting for a FOUR-PEAT.

The Nets?

Apparently done.

Three-peat?

Apparently a fait accompli.

That may come as news to the besieged in the opposing locker room and the faithful in Continental Airlines Arena and around the state of New Jersey, but the Lakers have seemingly moved on.

Leading, 3-0, in the best-of-seven NBA Finals against the Nets, the Lakers, whose biggest problem this season has been complacency, have already started thinking about a source of motivation for next season.

"There is not very far to go in this season," said Laker forward Rick Fox. "Just to the podium to accept our trophy. But we already see one more on the board."

Fox said he and his teammates have been upset by remarks made by the Kings since they lost the seventh and deciding game of the Western Conference finals to the Lakers last week, remarks made by Coach Rick Adelman and several players. They have questioned what they see as favorable treatment for Laker center Shaquille O'Neal by the officials and declared that they still feel they are the better team.

"There has been some talk around our locker room," Fox said. "Guys are [upset]. Kobe has said he is going to put in double time this summer. Shaq says he's going to do his body right this summer. There is definitely some talk about making it more than just this year. The Kings just keep yapping on and on."

Teams normally shy away from making predictions about the season ahead. They feel enough pressure over the season at hand. When then-coach Pat Riley, in the euphoria of the celebration following the Lakers' clinching victory in the 1987 Finals, guaranteed a second consecutive title in 1988, several players playfully said they wanted to strangle him. When Riley tried to open his mouth after the Lakers had indeed won that second championship, someone placed a gag over his mouth.

Ironically, it was Byron Scott, now the Nets' coach, who first coined the phrase three-peat as a member of a Laker team that was shooting for a third consecutive title in the 1988-89 season.

But it was Riley who cashed in on the term by getting a copyright on it.

"Maybe we can cut a deal with Riley," Fox said, "so we can say it as many times as we like. But first we have to reach it."

It sounds as if the Lakers have no doubts they will do so, they hope as early as Game 4 on Wednesday.

Was that Riley sighted at the patent office inquiring about four-peat?

Fox has thoroughly enjoyed his stay in the New York area. Saturday night, he went to see his wife, singer-actress Vanessa Williams, in the Broadway play "Into The Woods." Fox and Williams hadn't seen each other since April Fool's Day.

And on Sunday night, Fox calmly stepped to the line with 3.5 seconds left, stared into the crowd, which was wildly waving white cylindrical balloons to distract him, and sank the free throws that all but assured a three-peat.

"I don't want to take anything away from the fans," Fox said, "but most players don't see those things. They don't see beyond the first row. They just see within the lines of the court. I only look as far as the baseline."

But he and his teammates are also looking far ahead.

To a four-peat.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|