I had more than one thousand of Philadelphia's inmates e-mailing Wednesday to tell me their team would win a game, so I guess you could say I wasn't surprised. A number of those people, by the way, need to work on their spelling.
People in L.A., of course, e-mail all the time and demand more positive coverage of the local teams, and look what happened. Who cares if Kobe and Shaquille O'Neal are willing to double-date now--how do you stop Allen Iverson?
THE EXPECTATION for a Laker blowout victory had some observers wondering what the NBA and NBC were going to do to keep the national TV audience interested in Friday night's game.
NBC probably figured it had another XFL production on its hands.
I heard someone say Commissioner David Stern was going to find a way to get Tiger Woods on the court, while NBC was calling on J. Lo to sing the national anthem in "that dress."
This whole reality TV kick had officials thinking about inviting President Bush's daughters to the next game and having a camera follow them to see how many beers they tried to buy with fake IDs.
As if Eric Snow isn't exciting enough--that's his name, isn't it?
I think it was someone from "Access Hollywood" or one of those shows who suggested giving tickets to Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman without telling them they would be sitting next to each other, and then showing it on the overhead scoreboard screen.
That would have packed them in.
GOING IN, if you were going to have the NBA Finals on TV, you probably would want to fix it so that star power carries the night in prime time.
I'm sure the NBA couldn't have been any happier had Stern arranged it himself to have Kobe, Shaq and Iverson on the court at the same time.
But the thing about prime-time TV is that it's a cutthroat business trying to keep an audience's interest, and even hit shows like "NYPD Blue" and "Law & Order" understand the importance of a cliffhanger.
Iverson going for 48 points in a valiant bid to lick the Lakers in overtime is a lot like one of those agonizing deathbed scenes where you expect him to eventually expire. Jimmy Smits, sitting in the crowd at Staples Center, probably had flashbacks to his own demise on "NYPD Blue," knowing in his heart how this one was going to end.
But for Iverson to suddenly pop up, and run off the court with a 107-101 victory, that's the kind of drama that might make for a compelling mini-series.
Tuning in Wednesday night no one thought it would be this close, because unlike "Who Shot J.R?" no one could get their hands on an advance script.
But we should have seen the obvious plot twist--beginning with Kobe's two-point performance in the first quarter and culminating in him kicking the ball out of bounds with less than 19 seconds remaining in regulation.
If Kobe sabotaged his own high school games to make them more interesting, I would think he would rather play three games in his hometown of Philadelphia and make the clinching basket--rather than just playing two.
TV would love the "Philadelphia Conspiracy." It would give NBC's Jim Gray something to pursue.
NOW THAT we know the 76ers are not going to play the role of the Washington Generals for the Showtime Lakers and Matt Geiger has ruined L.A.'s chance of ever being known as the greatest playoff team in NBA history, I guess it's going to be a while before we all start devoting our attention to the Sparks.
If it takes a year or two to play out this series, I'm not going to complain.
I can't wait to see more of Tyronn Lue.
IN TUESDAY'S column, I made the point that Jackson had blown his whistle in practice and it appeared he was coaching for the first time this season.
I really wish he would stop that.
BY THE way, Jackson was hit with a technical foul. When his new book "We Blew It" comes out next year, we'll learn why.
STAPLES CENTER observers said Ed Norton was here, but no Salma Hayek. There were unconfirmed reports that Norton is now her ex-boyfriend, so although the Lakers fell, the night was not a total loss.
DURING ONE of the first-half timeouts, the Lakers put the faces of fans in the stands on the scoreboard inside a heart with "kiss me" instructions. The camera eventually focused on Wayne Gretzky and his son.
Gretzky obligingly kissed his son. The camera, however, did not stay with them long enough to see father explaining to son what happens when a team gags down the stretch.
I KNOW the French Open is still going on, but it dawned on me why Pete Sampras lost early on when I saw him arriving for the Laker-76er game.
I DON'T know how the U2 halftime concert played at home, but inside the arena it sounded as though everyone in attendance was given an aluminum garbage can lid with instructions to bang it until the teams returned to the court.
SURPRISINGLY, THE Lakers returned.
TODAY'S LAST WORD comes in an e-mail from Hacksaw Reed:
"I happen to be a resident of Philadelphia and I am truly amazed by how stupid and ignorant you are."
If you were living in L.A.--you wouldn't be amazed.