Volume 95, Issue 34

Thursday, November 1, 2001
 
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SPORTS

Is the West hiding the NBA's big winner?

Oars of might

Facing the Mac attack

Women go for gold

Is the West hiding the NBA's big winner?

By Jordan Bell
Gazette Staff


The West is once again primed to be wild.

The NBA champion has emerged from the Western Conference for the past three years – don't expect things to be any different this season.



MIDWEST:

The Midwest is controlled by a select few – the San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks. Everyone else is straining to see the light.

The Mavericks are essentially the best ticket in the league. They have the most entertaining threesome in the league in Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash and Michael Finley and they play with a style that will have even your grandmother jumping out of her rocker.

Although the Mavericks win plenty of regular season games, the way they stack-up against a serious, disciplined and battle-hardened team like the Spurs for instance, can be precarious – style alone doesn't suffice.

The Spurs may not take the division, but they are definitely a more playoff ready team. Tim Duncan is a fundamentally sound star and, like the Philadelphia '76ers in the East, the Spurs role-players do what is necessary to win.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are hard to evaluate. They have plenty of talent, but never seem to reach the top of the mountain. They will once again come into the playoffs as a six or seven seed and bow out in the first round.

Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley will accelerate the Rockets' rebuilding process, the Utah Jazz's old legs will ruin their chances, the Denver Nuggets will continue their despicable play and the Memphis Grizzlies will show that moving across the border doesn't necessarily mean more wins.

I pity the team who's starting point guard is Jason Williams.



PACIFIC:

This year's Pacific is reminiscent of years past with the usual suspects controlling the cards – the Los Angeles Lakers, the Sacramento Kings and the Portland Trailblazers.

The Los Angeles Clippers might even throw a monkey wrench into the scenario – can you believe there may actually be two good teams in L.A.?

The Lakers are still the best team in the league, with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal leading the way. The deft shooting of new additions Lindsey Hunter and Mitch Richmond can only help the Laker dynasty.

If there is a year the Lakers will have to watch their backs – it's now. The Kings boast their strongest rotation in recent memory. Goodbye to "all-style-no-substance" Jason Williams and hello solid point guard Mike Bibby.

This ship will run a lot smoother now with the defunct Williams in Memphis. Chris Webber will benefit immensely, while the rest of the team provide a solid supporting cast.

The Trailblazers will continue to be that rich little kid who has all the money in the world, but can't dribble his way out of a cardboard box. This team is a bucket full of misfits. You know what they say, "money can't buy happiness."

The sun isn't rising in Phoenix, but it's not exactly setting either. This is a middle of the road team who will rue the day they let Jason Kidd escape their grasp.

The Clippers will challenge the Mavericks for the most exciting draw in the league. Lamar Odom, Darius Miles and Elton Brand are electrifying in a transition game. Therefore, expect a big improvement from the league's proverbial laughing stock.

The Supersonics will be sleepless in Seattle and the Warriors – do I really have to say anything about them? I think not.




To Contact The Sports Department:
gazette.sports@uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 2001