The NBA Finals are supposed to feature the San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons, but the Los Angeles Lakers and labor strife have taken away some of the limelight from the first three games. Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson did a nationally televised interview before Game 1, Commissioner David Stern spoke of a possible lockout before Game 2 and Jackson rejoined the Lakers before Game 3.
Pistons Coach Larry Brown was asked if he felt upstaged. "No," Brown said. "I'm superstitious because [Jackson] had a press conference in Game 1 and we lost, I'm worried."
Brown and San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich both said they were pleased to see Jackson return. "I'm happy he's back in our league, I think he's a great coach," Brown said. "I don't know how you can make a better choice than a guy who has won nine championships and done a lot more for our game."
When Shaquille O'Neal and Jackson departed from the Lakers after last season, Popovich likened it to the breakup of the Soviet Union. He joked Tuesday that Jackson's return was like bringing back Mikhail Gorbachev. "But I think it's great," Popovich said.
Opening Up Far Away
The NBA announced plans for four teams to conduct portions of training camp in Europe before the 2006-07 season. The Spurs, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers and Philadelphia 76ers tentatively are scheduled to participate. The Spurs have six players on their roster born outside the mainland United States -- Tim Duncan (U.S. Virgin Islands), Tony Parker (France), Manu Ginobili (Argentina), Rasho Nesterovic and Beno Udrih (Slovenia) and Sean Marks (New Zealand).
The Pistons received four technical fouls in the first two games of the series, but their constant whining over the officiating reached a new level when Brown offered a statistic to support the complaints.
"We're 1-7 with one referee and 11-1 with the rest," Brown said Monday. Brown didn't name any officials, but the Pistons' postseason record is 1-7 when either Ron Garretson or Dan Crawford has officiated their games and 11-1 when neither has been on the court.
No. 1 in Threes
With 44 seconds left in the second quarter, Spurs reserve forward Robert Horry surpassed Michael Jordan for first place in career three-pointers made in the NBA Finals with 43. Horry trails only Reggie Miller for the most three-pointers in postseason history. . . . Pistons reserve point guard Carlos Arroyo sprained his ankle near the end of Game 2 but was available for Game 3.