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NBA FINALS * OTHER VIEWS

Three-Peat Is Not an End Point

June 14, 2002|MARK PURDY | San Jose Mercury News

Forget about Wednesday night. That's over. What about next year? And the next? The Lakers, after winning their third consecutive NBA championship, are going to win a few more. With their roster, there is no way to stop them....

Argue if you want about NBA greats. Shaquille O'Neal is not the best player ever, or even the best center. But he was the most overwhelming in a Finals series. Or so it says here.

Next season should be more of the same, though O'Neal clearly needs to lose weight if he hopes for a longer career. In his postgame remarks, he vaguely hinted about an early retirement, though no one is taking the possibility too seriously. But it's true O'Neal was bothered by toe problems throughout the season.

"I'm going to go out, meet all the best foot doctors in the world," he said. "Then I'll make the best decisions possible. I want somebody to help me with my pinkie-winkies."

The Lakers are rooting hard for the pinkie-winkies.

"The important thing is staying healthy," said Bryant, speaking of future title runs. "I don't know what Shaquille is going to do with his toe this summer. But I talked to all the guys and got everybody on the same page as far as working out. Because, you know, some other teams have had two months or a month and a half off. They're plotting. They're waiting. I'm sure Sacramento's working out right now."

Not hard enough. If O'Neal is back next season in good shape, the rest of the NBA is in bad shape. Period.

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