IT'S WHAT WE'VE ALWAYS WANTED! THANK YOU!
We've been waiting for this all season.
Check that. We've been waiting for Kings-Lakers since L.A. escaped Sacramento with an 112-106 Game 7 overtime win in the Western Conference Finals last June.
Like gently teasing parents, the NBA schedule maker will finally give us our gift: the Sacramento Kings visit Los Angeles to take on the Lakers. Appropriately, we get to unwrap this gift on Christmas Day (coverage on ABC begins at 5:30 p.m. ET).
While NBA fans may be like kids, full of anticipation, who wake up at 5:30 a.m. to unwrap their gift, Kings coach Rick Adelman has a bit of the Grinch in him. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)
While the Kings stumbled with two losses this past weekend, they've quietly built an impressive 22-8 record to lead the Pacific Division by 4 1/2 games and the Lakers by 10 1/2. (NBA.com)
And the Lakers (we don't know what has happened to them: complacency, age, injuries) at 11-18 through Monday have been down right Scrooge-like with their excellence. As one writer put it, this is a team of many faces.
Still, with the recent history between the two teams, this game remains a must see. Just look at the appetizer these two served in late October. (Dallas Morning News)
Before they played in the preseason, they squared off in the press, with Shaq calling Sacramento "the Queens." When they met in the preseason, Rick Fox and Doug Christie squared off on the floor and in the tunnel to the locker rooms.
The NBA handed out their lumps of coal for that incident. Here's hoping that the Lakers and Kings don't re-gift those lumps (or raise any on each other) on Christmas Day.
Pardon this interruption, but one of the hosts of that show weighs in with his thoughts on Iverson. (Washington Post)
One of the longest notes columns ever, but the first section about Robert Johnson, billionaire and owner of the new Charlotte franchise (nickname to be determined), is right on. (Houston Chronicle)
Johnson, the first minority owner in one of the four major U.S sports, said the issue of race is overblown. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) Still, we agree with the Contra Costa Times, it is important and is time that Johnson owned a team. (Contra Costa Times)
Remember when Flava Flav gave a shoutout to Doug Williams in "She Watch Channel Zero"? We need someone to give a shout-out to Johnson.
The Vandeweghes, all of them, including the family's 97-year old patriarch, are quite interesting really. (Denver Post)
Surprise, Nick Van Exel likes playing in Dallas. At 22-4, what's not to like? (Denver Post)
Did you know Chris Webber is a comic book super hero? (Washington Post)
Really, really, really, and I mean really tall gentlemen who wear short pants when they work often don't perform well according to this columnist. Yao Ming may change that perception. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
Yao is so big, he even has more than one nickname! Some call him "Dynasty," which plays off his first name, as in Ming Dynasty. Others call him "Chairman," to play off his first name. Both are good. We can't decide which we like better.
Don Nelson's contract is up at the end of this season. The Mavs' Big Three want Mark Cuban "The Big One" to settle it now. Magic Johnson in New York. You know he is restless as he was thinking about joining the Sonics' front office earlier this season. Now, could Magic have interest in the Knicks? He does has several business interests in New York City. Hmmm. (New York Post)
Who has the most to lose from an expansion draft in 2004? Could it be the Pacers? (Indy Star)
From the "You Gotta Feel for the Guy" department, Atlanta's Emanual Davis received his first start on Saturday and then tore his Achilles' tendon. We wish him well in rehab. (Atlanta Journal Constitution)
Mitch Richmond retired. No, really. ( Sacramento Bee)
Pumping iron has helped players last longer in the NBA. Just ask the Jazz. (Salt Lake Tribune)
The Hornets and the Saints team up to do some good. (New Orleans Times-Picayune)
YOUR HOLIDAY WISHES
We had our holiday list made last week, and we received what we asked for: your wishes for your favorite teams. And you responded in kind.
Looks like a dominant player in the low-post is the hot item this holiday season, as are time machines, overall health and poetic license.
Here are some of the better holiday wishes submitted by the fans.
Omair of Silver Spring, Md.: My team is the Washington Wizards, and if there was one thing I could them them for Christmas, it would be a time machine so that they could put Michael Jordan in it and make him ten years younger!
Nelg from Brisbane, Australia wants: Seattle needs a true, blue centre who can rebound and block shots not necessarily a scorer and definitely not another three-point shooter.
Mark from Ontario My team is the Toronto Raptors, and if I could give them one gift for Christmas it would be a healthy roster. Carter, Davis and Murray, we need some of our guys back on the court.
Mark of Oceanside, NY: If I could give the Washington Wizards one thing, I would give them the MJ of old, so he could lead them to his seventh championship.
Noah of Herndon, Va.: For Christmas, I'd get the Lakers Ben Wallace. There are small handful of better all-around power forward's in the league, but none would fit better into their system.
(Editor's note: The Lakers are like shopping for your grandparents. What do you get a team that supposedly has everything?)
Spillz of Harlem, NY I would get both Iverson and Garnett what they need most for X-mas. Each other! If you put those two guys together, especially in the East, they'll have the rings (yes, plural) to match those platinum chains.
Tom of Logan, Utah: I've been a Jazz fan for years. If I could get them one good gift, it would be a ring. But, since that is more of a summer time gift, I will have to give a more conventional item.
How about a center! So I think that if I could give Santa one good suggestion for the up and down Jazz, it would be somone to man the middle. Perhaps with that, they could have beaten the Bulls in '98!
Michael of Lexington, Ky.: I would give the Hornets star forward Jamal Mashburn a much deserved all star spot. Mashburn has been close to the league leaders in points in every year since he has come into the league except the few that Pat Riley tried to make him a role player.
Steven of Philadelphia: I'll tell ya what, if I could get my team (obviously the Philadelphia 76ers) one great gift for the holidays, it would be for the Sixers to find an awesome three-point shooter.
Brian of Sacramento: A completely healthy roster. OK, I will settle for everyone but Brent Price healthy.
(Editor's note: Sorry, Brent. That wasn't us.)
Andrew of Peekskill, NY: I would love to get the Knicks a dominant inside presence. Spree and Houston are among the top perimeter players in the league, if they had a dominant presence inside, someone who could post people up, block shots, and grab some rebounds, they would be a much better team. A line up of Eisley, Houston, Spree, Thomas, and Dice would get them into the playoffs for sure, but a first-round exit, of course.
Dave of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: If I could do anything for the Mavericks, I'd get them Kenyon Martin!
(Editor's note: I can hear Rod Thorn now: "Only if they gave us Dirk Nowitzki in return!)
Cheran of Urabna, Ill.: My wish is that my team, the Los Angeles Clippers, gets a healthy Lamar Odom back, and he can contribute like he would before his injuries. He definitely has great talent and versatility and there is no question in my mind that he will fit right in with the new faces that have joined the team.
Amar of Oakville, Ontario, Canada: Don't get me wrong, I love my favorite team, the Raptors. But I really think they need a player that will dominate in the paint. Every game is lost in the paint with these guys, even with the injuries. Santa I hope you can hear me!
Vinay from Grand Terrace, Calif. even gets poetic on us: My family are big Laker fans but we're very disappointed this year. My sister still has faith in you guys and prays for you before each game. I think you need to show more commitment and play with more confidence. Right now, you look almost afraid of the other teams and you know you can still beat them because you've done that before. My dad wrote a Christmas song about you guys, which I hope won't be true. It's sung to the tune of 'All I want for Christmas'
Here it is:
All I want for Christmas is a winning streak
Wish you all the best in the remaining games and hope you make the '4-peat'
And with that, Click and Roll wishes you and yours the happiest of holiday seasons.
Rob Peterson, NBA.com