The return of Andrew Bynum could tilt the odds in the Lakers' favor, of course, but recent history has not been kind to NBA Finals runners-up. . . .
Only one team in the last 22 years has won a championship the year after losing in the Finals -- the 1988-89 Detroit Pistons of Isiah Thomas, Dennis Rodman, Bill Laimbeer, Rick Mahorn, Joe Dumars, et al., who swept the banged-up Lakers a year after losing to Magic Johnson & Co. in Game 7 in 1988. . . .
Coach Chuck Daly's "Bad Boys," you may recall, were a lot grittier than the Lakers team that was manhandled by the Boston Celtics. . . .
As former Lakers coach Pat Riley might have said of the Finals efforts of Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, "I've seen more pushing in the men's room." . . .
Inglewood High graduate Paul Pierce is only the second player from an L.A.-area high school to be named Finals MVP and the first since the late Dennis Johnson, who played at Compton Dominguez High, L.A. Harbor College and Pepperdine before leading the Seattle SuperSonics to their only NBA title in 1979. . . .
Pierce, in the aftermath of Game 6, said he was upset that he was only the 10th pick in the 1998 draft because, "I thought I was the best player." . . .
Donald Sterling's Clippers had the No. 1 pick in 1998. . . .
They took Michael Olowokandi. . . .
How'd that turn out? . . .
Among the other players taken after Olowokandi and before Pierce were Mike Bibby and perennial All-Stars Vince Carter and Dirk Nowitzki. . . .
L.A.-area high schools, by the way, also have produced two World Series MVPs -- Dodgers reliever and Fairfax graduate Larry Sherry and Kansas City Royals right-hander and Reseda Cleveland alumnus Bret Saberhagen -- as well as a Super Bowl MVP, former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway. . . .
Elway played at Granada Hills. . . .
In the rivalry within the rivalry, former USC players Brian Scalabrine and Gabe Pruitt got no playing time in the Finals but won championship rings with the Celtics while former UCLA players Jordan Farmar and Trevor Ariza made on-the-court contributions but went home empty-handed with the Lakers. . . .
The announcement that a knee injury will sideline Tiger Woods for the rest of the year brings to mind Jack Nicklaus' Cal Ripken-esque streak of playing in 146 consecutive major championships. . . .
Nicklaus actually played in 154 consecutive majors for which he was eligible, a remarkable run that started in 1957, when he was a 17-year-old high school senior, and ended in 1998, when he was a 58-year-old grandfather. . . .
Woods' streak will end at 46 when he sits out next month's British Open. . . .
Four players from Virginia Country Club in Long Beach -- John Merrick, John Mallinger, Craig Barlow and Peter Tomasulo -- qualified for the U.S. Open, Merrick tying for sixth place last weekend and making $220,686. . . .
Isn't it clear that Grady Little was not the Dodgers' problem? . . .
Writes comedian Jerry Wolski, noting that New York Mets General Manager Omar Minaya says he fired manager Willie Randolph in the middle of the night because it would be "humiliating" for someone in uniform to be fired, "Apparently, firing a guy in his pajamas is much more dignified." . . .
What if they're footies? . . .
Only one problem with reader Sid Skolnik's suggestion that Ryan Spilborghs of the Colorado Rockies might one day team with Ryan Braun and Gabe Kapler of the Milwaukee Brewers to form the first all-Jewish outfield in major league history, notes Ephraim Moxson of the Jewish Sports Review. . . .
Spilborghs is Catholic. . . .
Oscar De La Hoya, David Robinson and three-time Olympic volleyball gold medalist Karch Kiraly were among the individuals inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame during a formal ceremony Thursday in Chicago. . . .
The event will be televised Aug. 3. . . .
The Kings finished with the worst record in the Western Conference last season, landing them the No. 2 pick in today's NHL entry draft, an event they're celebrating with a party for season-ticket holders at the Nokia Theatre. . . .
Only 10 more weeks until the college football season kicks off, 11 weeks until the NFL season opens and 15 weeks until Lakers training camp starts.