The league and the players' union agreed on a minimum age of 19 for players, which could have greatly affected this series if it had been in place two years ago when the Detroit Pistons drafted Darko Milicic second overall.
Milicic and LeBron James, the No. 1 pick in 2003, were both 18 on draft night, but with an age restriction, the Pistons would have been forced to draft Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh or Dwyane Wade, all now second-year players who had huge impacts on their respective teams.
The 7-foot, 245-pound Milicic just turned 20 on Monday, and has scored a total of two points in the Pistons' past two NBA Finals appearances.
In just 71 NBA games, Milicic has career totals of 115 points and 86 rebounds and has been relegated to the status of "Human Victory Cigar," receiving playing time only when the game is out of reach.
Under the new labor agreement, a player such as Milicic could be sent to the National Basketball Developmental League for no more than two years.
"Everyone wants to know if Darko can play," said Indiana Pacers forward and players' union president Michael Curry, "but I guarantee you if he's playing 40 minutes a night [in the minor leagues], he will be probably further along now than wherever he is. I don't know where he is as a player, but being in the minor leagues and having a chance to play, I think would actually help. Maybe he would be in a position to play right now."
Manu Gets Parker's Back
One of the best moves San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich made in Game 5 was sitting rookie point guard Beno Udrih and using Manu Ginobili as Tony Parker's backup at point guard.
Udrih has eight turnovers in just 43 minutes in the Finals, which contributed to the Pistons getting out and running in Games 3 and 4. Ginobili had a game-high nine assists, including the pass to Robert Horry for the game-winning three-pointer with 5.8 seconds remaining.
"I think that the key was to move the ball better," Ginobili said. "It's easier to go to the basket after a couple of baskets than, you know, holding the ball and letting the defense set. I think what we did well was to move the ball, play unselfish and find the open guy." . . .
Spurs forward Tim Duncan shot 4 of 11 from the foul line in Game 5 and missed six consecutive free throws in the fourth quarter. Popovich was asked if he had to make any adjustments for Game 6. "We just want him to show up on time," Popovich said. "That's it." . . .
During his pregame session with the media, Pistons Coach Larry Brown said this has been "a pretty special last run." When asked to clarify, Brown said: "I mean, this is the Finals, and after these two games, the season is over. I'm just thinking of these last two games."