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NBA FINALS | SPOTLIGHT

Buss Trip to N.J. Is Special

June 13, 2002|Bill Plaschke, Steve Springer, Elliott Teaford

Laker owner Jerry Buss was emotional after his eighth championship.

"I am very, very proud," he said. "When you win an amount of championships back in the '80s, you wonder if that's ever, every going to repeat in your life. To build another championship team like this, I'm so proud of these guys I can't even tell you."

Buss was not thrilled that the Lakers were forced to celebrate in the middle of a visiting court amid boos and catcalls.

"The fans in L.A., I wish every one of them could be here at this moment," he said. "It's just a shame we couldn't win it on our own home court. But I know everybody's watching. We love you, the team loves you, and keep supporting us."

Derek Fisher looked on the bright side of the boos.

"At least they didn't hit us upside the head with bottles while we were getting our trophy,'' he said.

Bill Plaschke

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No Wins, but Nets Had Some Laughs

New Jersey assistant coach Eddie Jordan reached far back into his closet for a little comic relief, wearing his Net jersey from the late 1970s to the pregame shoot-around.

The white jersey, which looked about two sizes too small, gave the Nets a good laugh during tense times.

"He's put on a few pounds since his playing days, but I thought it was cool," Net Coach Byron Scott said. "He lightened the guys up again. We were in watching tape and guys were pretty serious. He came out and made a fool of himself, but he gave the guys something to smile about and laugh about to get their mind off of basketball for a brief moment. I think it was good for them."

If Jordan had given Scott any notice, he said he might have worn one of his old Laker jerseys to join in the fun. But he's certain neither coach would have dared sport his old shorts.

"He was smart enough not to bring the trunks; guys would have been on the floor laughing," he said. "I had my son put mine on and I'm much bigger than him and he said, 'Dad, how did you fit in these things?' I'm not even going to try that."

Associated Press

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New Yorkers Don't Have Tunnel Vision

If it had been the New York Knicks instead of the Nets facing the Lakers in the Finals, it would have been headline news in Manhattan.

As it is, two New York tabloids, the Daily News and the Post, went with baseball on their banner page Wednesday. In the Daily News, the Laker-Net series was on Page 6, getting little more coverage than a regular-season game would.

Even this weekend's Yankee-Met series is bigger news and it's still a few days away.

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They Were Good Back in the Day

Much has been made of the Lakers' dynamic scoring duo, Shaquille O'Neal and Bryant. O'Neal averaged 36.3 points per game in the Finals, Bryant 26.8. But those numbers don't look so gaudy compared to the record-holders. Elgin Baylor averaged 40.6 points per game, Jerry West 31.1 in the 1962 NBA Finals, highest figures for teammates in Finals history. Baylor and West compiled those averages over seven games in a series won by the Boston Celtics.

Steve Springer

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This Clipper Had His Own Magic Moment

Wednesday was a big day for the Clippers. L.A.'s other basketball team, the guys who didn't make the playoffs.

Elton Brand, the Clippers' power forward, won the Magic Johnson Award, presented by the Professional Basketball Writers Assn. for basketball excellence and media and public professionalism.

Brand, a first-time All-Star this season, also was named to play on the U.S. team that will compete in the World Championships, Aug. 29-Sept. 8 in Indianapolis. He and Detroit's Ben Wallace were given the final two slots, with Nick Collison, who will be a senior at Kansas, was selected as an alternate.

Elliott Teaford

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