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The Pistons are No. 1!
By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

A fan at the Palace held a sign that read: "5-game sweep."

Technically, that's impossible in a best-of-seven series. But the Detroit Pistons came as close as they could without breaking any mathematical laws.

The Pistons completed a dismantling of the Los Angeles Lakers with a 100-87 win in Game 5 of the final last night to win the NBA title before an eardrum-popping crowd in Auburn Hills, Mich.

The Pistons' five-game triumph will stand as one of the biggest upsets in NBA history, if the prognosticators are taken into account. But the prognosticators obviously were not taken into account by the Pistons.

"When I dream, I dream about winning, always," the Lakers' Kobe Bryant said when asked if losing the final was like a nightmare.

The Lakers needed a miracle shot from Bryant in Game 2 to notch their only win. Other than that, he basically was held in check by the Pistons' stifling defence.

The MVP of the final was Detroit guard Chauncey Billups.

Pistons coach Larry Brown has become the first coach to win both an NBA title and an NCAA championship.

"I really believe this series has helped our sport," Brown said. "When you have to validate yourself, like I hear all the time, by winning a championship, that doesn't mean a thing to me. But to be part of something special means a lot."

Pistons owner Bill Davidson also owns the Stanley Cup-champion Tampa Bay Lightning, making him the first owner to have both the NBA and NHL champs in the same year. What's more, Davidson owns the Detroit Shock, which is the defending WNBA champion.

On the other side, this marks the first time Lakers coach Phil Jackson has lost an NBA final after nine victories (three with the Lakers, six with the Chicago Bulls). He said last night his chances of returning to the Lakers are "slim."

Whether this Lakers team will bear any resemblence to the club that shows up for training camp next fall remains to be seen. The futures of Jackson, Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Karl Malone, Gary Payton and Rick Fox are up in the air.

Malone and Payton took pay cuts last summer to join the Lakers. Payton largely was ineffective in the final, while Malone severely was hampered by an injured right knee and did not dress for the decisive game last night.

The Lakers discovered what the Maple Leafs discovered in the past few springs: If many of your best players are in their thirties or older, the chances of all of them being healthy at the same time, through a two-month post-season, are almost nil.

Bryant is facing rape charges in Colorado. Even if he plays next season, there's a strong chance it will be elsewhere, but last night he offered no real insight on his future.

Bryant said that theoretically, he has no problem playing with Jackson and O'Neal "forever," despite obvious friction. When those comments were relayed to Shaq, he said, "Kobe is a great player, you need a 1-2 punch, and obviously me and Kobe are the ones who punch. But it's going to be a funny summer for a lot of people."

Whether or not this series will be viewed as the dawn of a new era remains to be seen. But the Pistons' bigger-than-the-sum-of-their-parts approach will inspire imitation.

Asked the other day how Brown has been able to manage all the various -- and potentially explosive -- personalities on the Pistons, forward Rasheed Wallace replied: "He doesn't manage us. We ain't no wild animals out here."

That said, the Pistons played with the fierceness of wild animals, while the Lakers looked like fat cats.

And the fat cats got swept, even if it took five games.







Do you like the new-look Raptors heading into the 2013-14 NBA season?
  Yes, new GM made great moves
  No, they will still be a terrible team
  Unsure what to make of it


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