Another Celtics-Lakers NBA Finals, the second in three seasons and the 11th in league history, reminds us of the sport's caste system. Pro basketball is not an equal opportunity enterprise.
The Lakers now have won the West almost as many times (31) as not (33). The Lakers, not the Yankees, are America's most constant winner. That's why I think Sam Presti is standing on solid rock with his master plan, which is hard for some to stomach but will be the best thing for Oklahoma City. The Thunder general manager is not trying to build an NBA champion. He's trying to build a perennial winner. There's a difference. A big difference. Try to win a championship, and Presti might shoot the moon. Might upset the Thunder's carefully constructed payroll with a flier on a big-name free agent. Might deviate from the plan that has brought the Thunder so far so fast, seeing a Western Conference with his baby Boomers gaining ground fast on aging contenders. But Presti, if he sticks to his word, won't be tempted. He'll stay committed to the long-term. That's what Presti means everytime he uses those catchphrases that can drive you bananas with their banality. "We're big picture.” "There's no shortcut. It's a process. Not an event.” "There's a long list of teams ... always trying to dig out of a hole.” Presti's message is fundamental. He's not going to mortgage the future for the present. Makes you wish he was in Congress, but it also should make you glad he's running the local NBA squad. I don't know if Presti would admit to not trying to win a title, even though it's the truth. It's an unpopular idea. The pros — owners, management, players — are supposed to sell their souls for a championship. "All of us are in there are to get a ring,” said Orlando Magic senior vice president Pat Williams.