NBA Finals Notebook
Odom Found a Delicious Solution
Friday, June 6, 2008
BOSTON, June 5 -- When the Los Angeles Lakers met for training camp in Hawaii in October, speculation surrounding Kobe Bryant's trade demand had yet to be resolved. But the team managed to come together anyway because of the intervention of Lamar Odom. Odom hired well-known Hawaiian chef Sam Choy to prepare every meal for the team, and all the players, including Bryant, joined in.
"I knew in my gut it was something we needed," Odom said of the time the players shared. "I knew that we could be tighter as a unit, to have that type of camaraderie, because we've got some good guys in that locker room. I thought, I want to take it back to high school, AAU, we did everything together, no matter what. I thought that was important for us this year, because I knew that everyone wanted it."
Reserve guard Sasha Vujacic said the chemistry that has helped the Lakers advance to the NBA Finals for the first time in four years began over those meals. "It was great. It kept us together as a unit," he said. "We became friends, not just on the court but off the court."
Odom said the food Choy prepared was phenomenal and he was especially a fan of a chicken dish that was prepared with Cap'n Crunch cereal. "It was crazy," Odom said. "It was banging. Everything paid off, you know."
A Title Sure Doesn't Hurt
Bryant has won three championship rings while the Boston Celtics' all-star trio of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen is making its debut in the NBA Finals.
Entering this postseason, Garnett (20,378), Allen (18,227) and Pierce (16,945) had scored the most career points of any active players who never played for an NBA title. Pierce said Wednesday that a championship is necessary to validate a career.
"In order to be great, in order to be a legend, you have to win a championship," Pierce said.
Garnett added, "It definitely doesn't hurt."
Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said people are viewed differently based on whether they win a championship.
"Coaches are, players are, organizations are, there's no doubt about that," Rivers said. "And hopefully that's what everybody wants."
Rivers, who never won a title as a player or as a coach, said some people unfairly diminish the accomplishments of players such as Patrick Ewing and Charles Barkley because they never won a championship.
"Patrick Ewing is one of the greatest centers to ever play the game, ever, whether he won a title or not," he said. "He shouldn't be faulted. He had teammates like me. That clearly didn't help his case."
What Are the Odds?
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson was named head coach of the Bulls in 1989 and has won nine NBA championships with Chicago and the Lakers to match legendary Celtics Coach Red Auerbach. But despite coaching 54 postseason series, he had never faced the Boston Celtics before Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
"You know, I was on the cusp of the rise of the Bulls and the demise of the Celtics teams that were great teams of the '80s," Jackson said. "It's 20-something years almost now, and not to have faced them is really an interesting thing, as dynamic as the franchise has been."