Cap's Corner - 7/06/10

Cap's Corner by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Was there anything you did after championships to personally celebrate?

KAJ: I would never do anything extraordinary after winning the finals. When the Bucks won in '71 I missed the parade in Milwaukee because I drove home to New York City with friends and thus missed the plane the team took to return to Milwaukee. I was there for the dinner that was held by the team a few days later.

How do you feel the intensity of Game 7 compared with Finals clinching games that you played in?

KAJ: I think that Finals pressure is something that is a consistent pressure on the players no matter what era they played in. Given the hi-tech capabilities that are focused on the events and the players they are totally aware of the scrutiny they are receiving. There is more intense scrutiny these days but the effect on the players is about the same.

How do you think people will look back on Phil as a coach?

KAJ: I'm sure people will be able to see Phil as a coach who was able to get the best from the teams he coached. When given truly great players to coach, Phil has delivered World Championships consistently. Being a coach is sometimes like being a chef. If you give a chef quality ingredients to cook, he should be able to put together a quality meal.

What most impresses you about what Kobe has been able to achieve in his career?

KAJ: The fact that Kobe has been able to become an emotional leader as well as a leading scorer for his team. He is able to set a tone for his team mates and lead by setting an example in areas that have to do with work issues. I'm thinking of Kobe's suggestion  that he can take over the assignment of guarding Russell Westbrook in the Oklahoma City Playoff. Kobe's defensive determination set a tone for his team and they went on to eliminate The Thunder.

Can you talk about the rigors of being a back to back champion?

KAJ: A team that is trying to win back to back championships has to be willing to play at a higher level all season because every team you play will give its best effort to defeat the "Defending Champs".  The more intense scrutiny can be a blessing and a burden at the same time. Having a goal of playing at your best is an incentive for the whole team. At the same time the burden seems worse when you don't live up to people's expectations and doubt is very much in the air. The historically great teams always respond to this type of challenge in ways that create dynasties.