Originally published in SLAM 9
Fresh from a series win over the underachieving, first-round-losing Seattle SuperSonics, the Los Angeles Lakers met the San Antonio Spurs in the second round of the Playoffs. The Lakers were a team on the rise, who wanted to keep their magic carpet ride season alive—nobody picked Showtime to make such an impression so fast. The Spurs, a team expected to finally live up to expectations, had to beat the Lakers, or their fans might pull a mutiny on David “The Admiral” Robinson and his less-than-shipshape crewmates.
After winning the first game at home in a resounding fashion (110-94), the Spurs were looking to take the Lakers out. But the Lakers’ Eddie Jones would have none of that, frankly. Early in the first quarter, with the Spurs on a 14-4 run, the Lakers needed to stop the bleeding. With slick Nick Van Exel running the show at the top of the key, Jones set up behind the trey arc. Van Exel whipped a pass over to Jones, who grabbed the rock. The Rifleman Chuck Person showed no respect for Jones’ jay and cemented himself a few feet in front of him. (Then again, that’s how Chuck plays D on everybody.)
The Spurs’ staunch defense stated with their assignments: Robinson played strong side defense on Elden Campbell in the post while Rodman roamed the weak side. Jones faked the three—leaving Chuck a little confused—then headed down the lance. Robinson left his man to send the rook a little message of his own. Jones rose with the pill in his right hand and sent the ball down, leaving Robinson swiping at the air.
Rodman, with his Flavor of the Month ‘do and his shorty-shorts, tried to step in for the charge. No such luck. Jones pulled the Lakers within five and showed the TNTers that his rookie game is nasty nice and all that yumming in the regular season was no fluke. Unfortunately. Jones’ 20 points, 7 boards and three-for-six trey shooting wasn’t enough to beat the Spurs in overtime (97-90), but it was enough to let the League know that the Los Angeles Lakers are comin’ on strong.
And, yeah, Eddie Jones has arrived.