The word is they wanted Tom Brokaw to write this piece about the NBA's summer of 2003. But it was hardly the NBA's greatest offseason. So I got the assignment. Actually, the summer of '03 was one to forget for the NBA and most of its teams.
It, of course, started with the arrest of Kobe Bryant for sexual assault. So much for next Jordan. How about next Anthony Mason?
Actually, it was supposed to be a summer bumper crop of free agents. But nobody really got better, and it's a good thing the U.S. wasn't trying to qualify for the Olympics with players from the Eastern Conference.
Jason Kidd came back to the New Jersey Nets, albeit limping from some ankle problems that didn't go away after two months off before the Olympic qualifying tournament. So don't buy those Nets' Finals tickets yet (hardly anyone has the last two years).
The San Antonio Spurs were supposed to be the dynasty in waiting with a championship and $16 million in salary cap room. That got them Rasho Nesterovic, Ron Mercer, Robert Horry and Hedo Turkoglu. Isn't that a punk band?
The truth is it's probably a lineup upgrade in depth. However, it won't be as much fun watching Gregg Popovich trying to pull out those quarter-inch hairs watching Stephen Jackson's shot selection. They get Manu Ginobili in the starting lineup, but it's not exactly like putting a future Hall of Famer next to Tim Duncan. How do you say "You guard Shaq" in Slovenian?
Ah, yes, the Lakers.
Those Lakers of 75 wins. Of Karl Malone and Gary Payton and Shaquille O'Neal on the Atkins diet.
All of that has been forgotten in the Kobe mess, but the Lakers marching through the Western Conference is no slam dunk, assuming Malone can still touch the rim.
There's a lot more to read, and I reccomend you read the rest here: