Chat Transcript: Bill Walton
Posted Jun 13 2002 3:11PM
Walton breaks down NBA Finals 2002 after Game 4
NBA on NBC analyst Bill Walton chatted with NBA.com and All Access Pass following the Lakers' four-game sweep of the Nets. Here's what Big Red had to say about the Lakers' place in history and what the Nets need to do next season to make it back to the Finals.
Joe(chicago): do you think these lakers are better than Jordan's bulls when they won the champion ships?
Pavel Rubin: deal Bill...what was your prediction for this years finals? Did you find the finals fun to watch and commentate?
Bill Walton: I'm the luckiest guy in the world, to have the job I do, to watch all these incredible games, brilliant athletes. I never predict because you never know how it's going to work out. The Lakers have the best team and had that for a while, but you never know how hard they are going to work or about injuries. Sacramento had a great team and I think felt in their own hearts they could win, but in the end, didn't get it done. The best team won the championship. And that's the beauty of NBA basketball. It's all geared for the best teams to win.
Ryan Ambrosio (Dr Evil): Mr Walton ... you think the Lakers could have won time and again without Phil Jackson?
Bill Walton: No, I do not. Three years ago, teams were lining up to play the Lakers. Saying we want Shaq. Can't the Lakers come into town? Now people are running and hiding. It all changed with Phil Jackson. He challenged Shaq and Kobe to become more than commercial icons. He challenged them to become true champions. Before Phil Jackson got there, you never heard them talk about the team, defense, how important it was to them to play great basketball. Phil Jackson is truly one of the great teachers I've ever witnessed.
Ryan Ambrosio (Dr Evil): How many Championships in the next 5 years do you thinks the Lakers will get?
Bill Walton: It all depends on how hard Shaq is willing to work. He is the one who makes the difference for everybody. Kobe Bryant, as great as he is, if you take Shaq off the team ... we'll never know how great one is without the other. As dynasties go, if the key players stay the same and the role players change ... if you look at the two Bulls three-peats, they changed everyone on the team except for Micheal, Scottie and Phil. And at some point the Lakers' role players will have to change. The nature of sustaining excellence and subjugating the ego over the team is critical. I love the way this team plays. The challenge is for the rest of the league to develop a game, a style and players that can compete and eventually beat the Lakers. I want to see lots of teams come at the Lakers. I think what we saw this year was teams learning how to play the Lakers, especially with Sacramento. Ultimately, Sacramento crumbled under the psychological pressure.
Francis (phil): Mr. Walton, do you think the lakers management will retain their most important players? Like Robert Horry, Kobe and Shaq of course, and probably Rick Fox and Derek Fischer?
Bill Walton: Very few people talk about Jerry Buss anymore ... the numbers we heard tonight were spectacular ... 23 years of ownership and 12 NBA Finals. He never seeks the spotlight; he just makes it fun for the fans. When we talk about how great it is to play with Shaq and Kobe or play for Phil Jackson, how about how great it is to be a Laker because to play for Jerry Buss. We asked Phil what getting No. 3 would mean and he said the chance to get to No. 4. Adding the guys they did this year, they had their moments. Now Jerry Buss, Mitch Kupchak and Phil Jackson will have to sit down and figure out where to go next. The strategy is very obvious -- pay Shaq and Kobe all the money and then count on the rest of the guys to play for less for the chance to be part of something special.
G's A fan: So Bill can I know what you thought of the game? Didn't here you'r comment on tv.
Bill Walton: It was a very good game. An offensive matchup which held tight, but New Jersey kept falling down. The fatal flaw NJ and everyone else has is that they have to double-team and no one else does. And that hurts your offense. Players make plays; plays don't make players. Ultimately it was the Lakers' ability to make those plays and the Nets inability to do so that makes the Lakers the clear champions. Every great championship team has had a phenomenal defense and then the greatest of the greats have all had that brilliant offensive genius.
cheetah: what do the nets do next season?
Bill Walton: The Nets made great strides. I have been in this building so many times when it had just been an absolute morgue and what the Nets did this year was truly magnificent. But their work has just begun. Kenyon Martin made great strides and hopefully he'll learn that this is a mental game and not just physical. It was nice to see Shaq play tribute to Jason Kidd in his postgame comments. MacCulloch needs to work on his physical strength so he can defend Shaq better. Then the ability of Van Horn and Kittles to move beyond disappointing performances. Life is about moving on. This NBA Finals, like anything else is like your jumper. Once the ball leaves your hands, there's nothing you can do about it and you have to get back to work. Someone else is always moving ahead.