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Monday, July 14, 2003

Basketball Musings-Don't expect the Lakers to run away with the title, even with Payton and Malone; Magic's given the go-ahead to unretire #32 for Malone. There are four things that come to mind that would stop a Laker juggernaut towards a title. The first is age; Malone's 40 and may start to have injury problems. Shaq has a lot of miles on his odometer, as does Payton. The second is the possibility that Kobe's rape charge will stick. I have no clue whether the change has any merit, but if it does, the Fantastic Four gets trimmed by 25%. The third is that Shaq and Karl may have a hard time coexisting in the paint. Malone's never worked with a legit low-post presence while at Utah; Mark Eaton and Greg Oestertag didn't exactly scare anyone with their inside game. Lastly, can this Odd Quartet share the basketball without driving each other crazy? There's a lot of ego there, more than on many clubs; the '76-'77 Sixers comes to mind, with Dr. J, George McGinnis, Chocolate Thunder et al. Remember that that talented bunch lost in the finals to Walton, Maurice Lucas and a bunch of role players in Portland. On the upside, the four of them may not have to be on the floor together much. Kobe can swing from 2 to 3 and Payton has the size to play both guard spots. Even if one of the Fantastic Four is hurt, suspended or in foul trouble, the team will still have a lot of fire power with the remaining three stars. The Mavs and Spurs have the ability to match them, if they can get a good free agent for next year. It should be interesting.

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