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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, November 30, 2023


It seems everyone — from television networks to ESPN to newspapers around the country — have deemed the Los Angeles Lakers the new team to beat.
Sure, with the addition of Dennis Rodman the Lakers are a formidable foe. But it might be a bit early to count out some of the other contenders for the first post-Michael Jordan title.
Consider the following:
THE DISTRACTION FACTOR — Rodman is a great rebounder, but a disaster forteam chemistry. Does anyone really think his new teammates don't mind him taking a few days off with pay to work out marital problems with pseudo-bride Carmen Electra?
And if things are really so tough, why is he hanging around the tables in Las Vegas? During a televised interview recently, Rodman said, “Vegas is my therapy. Whenever I get stressed out, I like to forget things and roll the dice.''
I'm sure his teammates understand. Right?
In Chicago, Dennis was always a sideshow. MJ was the star attraction, with Scottie Pippen taking the best supporting actor award. His antics were no help, but not enough to derail one of the best teams of all time.
But remember when he was in San Antonio? Against the Houston Rockets in the conference finals, his refusal to join the huddle? Taking himself out of the game? His brain-dead behavior cost the Spurs a shot at the title that season.
NEW TERRITORY — Shaquille O'Neal is simply not the player some people would believe him to be. He will not carry this team to a title. He's been unable to do so before, and he's not getting any better.
Already, angry Shaq fans are typing letters in his defense. But Shaq has never been able to match the other great centers when it comes to playing the game facing the basket. Sure, he's fantastic in the paint, but that's not enough.
My pick for the title? The Spurs.
There's no sophomore jinx for Tim Duncan, who has picked up where he left off last season. David Robinson started slow, but has been picking up his game.
And there's a solid, blue-collar work ethic that the Lakers sure can't match.
The short season hurts any team that has undergone major changes. The Houston Rockets have more talent than anybody, with the trio of Hakeem Alajuwon, Charles Barkley and Pippen. But they're still looking for the right mix, the right gameplan. The right chemistry.
The Spurs, on the other hand, return a solid nucleus in Duncan and Robinson. The biggest change on the team isn't personnel, but roles. Duncan has become the principal weapon, with Robinson's role being adjusted accordingly.
Word out of San Antonio is that most of the players are content with the system, and that Robinson is beginning to thrive as opponents shift their pressure to Duncan.
So don't rush out and buy that purple-and-gold shirt yet. There's still a ways to go before the new king of the hill is crowned.
Editor's note: Jerry Fordyce, former sports editor at the Virgin Islands Daily News, is a contributing columnist for the St. Thomas Source. Fordyce, now an editor at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, can be reached at jfordyce@star-telegram.com.

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