Cap's Corner - 11/04/10

Cap's Corner by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

What stands out to you the most about actually receiving your NBA championship ring, something that forever symbolizes your accomplishment? How is that different from the feeling you get when the final buzzer goes off in the Finals?

KAJ: By the time you get your ring you have had a lot of time to internalize the success you have enjoyed and it is a moment when you get to look at the bigger picture instead of the excitement of the final moments of the last game when you are full of apprehension and adrenaline.

What are your thoughts on how the Lakers introduced one another at this season's ring ceremony?

KAJ: I thought it was a great idea to give the individual team members an opportunity to share their thoughts about their teammates in a very direct manner. It gave the ceremony a very personal touch and included some insight as to the team's chemistry.

Phil Jackson and Mitch Kupchak have both mentioned how it can be very important to bring in at least a little bit of new blood to a defending champion, just to engender a bit more hunger from those who haven't won. Some players – like Kobe Bryant – don't need any extra push, but do you recall how the addition of new players to the great 1980's Lakers teams affected things one way or another?

KAJ: I thought Jerry West did a great job in the 80s of anticipating our needs and finding the right people to bring in to shake us up. He drafted James Worthy when he could have picked Dominique Wilkins or Terry Cummings in the first round. He picked Byron Scott to replace Norm Nixon and he chose Mychal Thompson as a free agent to give us some bench strength for our front line. Also adding Bob McAdoo was a great move that again gave us bench strength and flexibility.

How do you manage your body early in the NBA season so that you're in good enough condition to play your best physically late in the season? Was that ever a concern for you? Is there a specific challenge for forwards and centers vs. guards in terms of pacing oneself through the season?

KAJ: I always tried to come to training camp in shape so that would not be an issue after the season started. I played so many minutes that I was able to maintain my physical regimen for the whole season. The mental aspects of a long season can also be challenging but vying for the championship consistently made that a secondary issue. I think that starters stayed in shape more than bench players and had very little to do with position as to who was in shape or not in shape.