Simons Says...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Back in the day, the NBA’s old slogan (that has still found a bit of a shelf life) was “I Love this Game.”

I know this sounds a bit corny but this playoff season, I’ve kinda’ been mumbling that phrase to myself. The games have been great, the series have been dramatic and the high level of play has been beneficial to the league. Ratings are up, more viewers are taking in the games and that is very good as the NBA Finals loom and a potential labor fight after that.

First things first. The Lakers sweep at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks. I watch a lot of NBA games (a lot) but I didn’t see this one coming. Nor did I see the horrible and regretful exit that Los Angeles would use in game 4, on national television.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the Lakers are the textbook team for the NBA. That is a storied franchise and yes, starting back in it’s days here in Minnesota. They’ve been graced by some of the games greatest, from Wilt to West, Magic Johnson to Abdul-Jabbar, Bryant to Baylor, Shaq to “Big Game” James Worthy. But never has a franchise been as embarrassed as it was in game 4 in Dallas.

Not only were the Lakers humiliated in four games, they didn’t show up for the decider. Pathetic. My neighbor is one of the biggest Lakers fans I know (has all three color jerseys, wears ‘em all the time) and he still hasn’t come out of his house.

But that’s not the worst of it. Last but certainly not least, the violent and petty on court cheap shots taken by Lakers against Mavs players. When Mavs guard Little Big Man J-J drove the lane one too many times, wide load Andrew Bynum swatted him hard to the floor, was ejected, ripped off his jersey like D-Rodman used to do and bandied towards the back halls.

Best part (short of Bynum truly apologizing and JJ accepting) was the NBA handing out a 5 game suspension and a fine that Bynum will feel in his wallet.

All of a sudden, the Lakers have become a bit of a “project.” Very good they still are but great, nah, not now. Weak bench, timid players, a banged up Kobe Bryant and now, a team without it’s Sgt. Hulka. The Lakers have all this retooling to do and will do it without their Coach.

And how about Phil Jackson? Regardless of your feelings about this coach, he deserved better than THAT. Geez. More NBA title rings than fingers says it all and Jackson will not be back. Tough to go out on that note. Jackson told the media as he packed up at Lakers HQ, quoting, "I have no plans to return.”

Can you imagine watching the Lakers WITHOUT the Zen Master? Jackson tells reporters that life outside of basketball (all he’s known for decades) will be a “struggle." The game will miss him more than he misses it. There’s nothing left for Coach Jackson to prove. Few people can ever say that in their lifetime. Jackson can. I hope life is good to him.

Sad News:

Word just the other day that Robert "Tractor” Traylor is dead.

If you don’t remember him or ever watched the big fella play, you missed out. First of all, Tractor was a Big-10 guy who played at University of Michigan and later with several NBA teams.

Tractor made his name in college ball and was staying in the game down in Puerto Rico and Mexico. Police apparently found him dead on his bedroom floor.He will be missed. And he was only 34 years old.

Way to go Wesley!

Said it before and will again, I love talking Wolves in their off-season. Good news for one of the building blocks.

T’Wolves forward Wes Johnson is a member of the NBA’s All-Rookie Second Team after averaging 9.0 points (6th among rookies), 3.0 rebounds (9th) and shooting 35% from the land of three.

Johnson made his mark after being picked with the fourth overall selection last year. Wes played in a team-high 79 games for the Wolves during his rookie season, including 63 starts. The Wolves tell me that Wes now joins old schoolers Felton Spencer, Kevin Garnett, Craig Smith, and teammates K-Love and Jonny Flynn as Timberwolves rookies to earn second team honors. Pooh Richardson, Christian Laettner, Isaiah Rider, Stephon Marbury, Wally Szczerbiak and Randy Foye all earned first team honors during their rookie seasons in Minnesota.

Lottery Luck:
The 2011 NBA Draft Lottery is Tuesday. There will be a Lottery Pick Party at Huberts Sports Bar & Grill in Target Center on that night at 7 p.m. Here’s wishing the Wolves' luck in securing the top draft pick. will be determined. To take advantage of the "Pay the Pick" promotion, fans need to purchase their tickets prior to the draft lottery on May 17.

More on the draft lottery, the Heat and what might be the new look Lakers a season from now next week in this read.

By the way, GameON! is delighted to welcome new Lynx guard Angel Robinson to the show this Sunday. The former standout at Central High is a state champion and was a big time player at Marquette. Angel is joined by Hockey legend Lou Nanne. That’s this Sunday on FOX sister station My29 @ 11A. Keep your GameON!

Thanks for the e-mails and the uptick in communication from you out there. I very much enjoy getting those and next week, we’ll share some more of your FAN thoughts in our SimonsSays mailbag. Until then, keep your chin up and see you Sunday on GameON! I’d love to have you out to one of our live GameON! Tapings this next Tuesday at Courtside Bar and Grill in Anoka on Jackson Street. More details and guest listings on our redesigned show website (