Kurt Rambis is a Laker icon. Rambis played 14 years in the NBA, including nine seasons with Lakers, winning four league titles. Then Rambis worked for the Lakers for 11 years, as assistant coach, assistant general manager and interim head coach (1998-99). Last summer, he became head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Rambis was at the Staples Center on Tuesday night for Game 5 of the Lakers-Thunder series.
Anything about this series surprise you?
Rambis: "No, not really. The Thunder is a very talented, deep, young, athletic, quick team. It’s the kind of team that could cause the Lakers problems, if they were given the opportunity to play with confidence, which they were given by the Lakers. The Lakers are dealing with Kobe’s injuries, he’s not himself. Several ballplayers aren’t stepping up to cover for his difficulties.”
So you weren’t surprised an inexperienced team is able to impose its will on a veteran team?
Rambis: "Some of it has to do with the issues the Lakers are going through. They have the experience. They have the knowledge. Whether or not they have physical capabilities to do that is another thing. They know what they’re supposed to do, and Phil’s a master at being able to make adjustments and being able to deal with difficult situations.
"I just think the Lakers, with Kobe not being 100 percent, other players not playing at a level that can cover for what he’s doing, that’s opening the door for what the Thunder can do. It’s given them confidence, it’s given them life.”
What are your overall thoughts about the Thunder?
Rambis: "They’ve played well all year. After getting off to a slow start, they found their legs, found their confidence, found their groove as a ballclub. Look at a No. 1 seed and a No. 8 seed, the difference in their win-loss record was not tremendous.