Alexander: Wheelchair for Lakers’ Davis brought back some memories

LOS ANGELES – The (NBA Playoffs) world according to Jim:

• Those Laker fans with long memories, given the events of Wednesday night in San Francisco, might want to go easy on Paul Pierce these days.

Remember Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals, when the Boston Celtics’ Pierce was wheeled to the locker room in a wheelchair in the third quarter after he collided with Kendrick Perkins and went down clutching his knee? Pierce received all kinds of grief in the aftermath, though some of that was because whatever was ailing him – and there were multiple explanations of why Pierce rode to the locker room in the first place – didn’t prevent him from sprinting back onto the court moments later.

All these years later the subject still comes up occasionally, though you’d have to say Pierce and his teammates had the last laugh by hanging their 17th (and most recent) banner. …

• Flash forward to this past Wednesday night, when Anthony Davis was whacked in the side of the head by an inadvertent Kevon Looney elbow and staggered off the court, again in the third quarter. After being tended to on the bench, holding his head most of the while, Davis was conveyed down the tunnel in a wheelchair when he seemed like he might be too unsteady to walk. …

Here’s the play.

— Jim_Alexander (@Jim_Alexander) May 11, 2023

• Davis was fine Friday night, and his 17 points, 20 rebounds, two blocked shots and two steals, along with LeBron James’ 30 pointsm nine assists and nine rebounds, helped the Lakers end Golden State’s season and advance to a conference finals matchup with Denver, 122-101. But the guy who was trending from coast to coast was Austin Reaves, who channeled Jerry West by swishing a 54-foot shot to end the first half and finished with 23 points, five rebounds and six assists.

The fan invited to take a half-court shot for a jackpot midway through the third quarter missed his heave. So maybe Reaves should have gotten his jackpot. Or, better yet, a multi-year contract with a healthy raise, right on the spot. Memo to Rob Pelinka: He’s earned it. …

• Given the already existing narrative about Davis’ availability and consistency – Bay Area media members started suggesting earlier in this series that A.D. actuallly stood for “Alternate Day” – I think we know the turn the national conversation took, as my colleague Mirjam Swanson described in Friday’s paper, even if you hadn’t heard the jokes and laughs from certain pundits. Just remember this description: Cruelty as entertainment. It’ll tell you all you need to know. …

• Interestingly, one of those who objected to the laughter and scorn over what could easily have been a concussion was the Warriors’ Draymond Green, who noted on his podcast, “Just don’t play with those head injuries, man. They are serious. I saw a lot of people laughing and talking – but it’s a hit to the head. And one small hit to the head can change everything in your life.

“So I don’t really understand the joke. I don’t understand it at all. Every time you step on the basketball court, the football field, on the ice, on the pitch, you’re risking your life because an injury can change everything.

“But there’s quite a few things I don’t necessarily understand in this world we live in.” …

• Just imagine, by the way, what some old-school coaches’ reactions might have been to the idea that one of their players is podcasting during a playoff series. Some coaches even today might take a dim view of it. Distractions, you know.

And as for Steve Kerr, Green’s own coach?

“It’s 2023,” he said before Friday night’s game.

“So 20 years ago, coaches would have been furious. And those were the days where if somebody’s phone went off, the coach would throw the phone at the wall. I think when Magic coached the Lakers, if somebody’s beeper went off, he threw the beeper at the wall. You know, those days are long gone.

“So 2023 is a different time. Players are media members themselves in many cases. I trust Draymond implicitly. He’s a champion. He’s a worker. He’s one of the great competitors I’ve ever been around. If he wants to have a podcast, he can have a podcast.” …

• As a player/podcaster, I guess Green could be considered a competitor to those of us in the media seats. But in this case, he did us all a service. It should be evident that hits to the head are no laughing matter, anytime, but some folks with national platforms evidently need to be reminded. …

• “Alternate day,” in another sense, could be the story of this series. There have been no multi-day breaks for the teams to catch their breaths and clear their heads, and at the back end of this series, teams are foregoing practices and/or shootarounds to create at least a little downtime.

“Just their normal body prep, and a lot of stuff we’ve been getting done through film and walkthroughs,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “And, you know, the biggest thing at this point of the year, playing against the type of opponents we’re playing against, being able to recover and have as much energy as possible is the top priority in every single scenario. I’m sure every other team that’s still playing right now will tell you the same thing.

“Our guys have been together long enough now and we’ve been entrenched in this thing, and (are) now in the second round, so they have the corporate knowledge, or most of it at least. And now it’s just about being ready to read and react and adjust if need be and stick to the things are going well and try to see how you can fix the things you’re not doing so well. But the first and foremost top priority is to make sure we have guys available and healthy.” …

• He didn’t mention energy, effort and urgency to us. I’m sure his players don’t need to be reminded, because that’s been Ham’s mantra throughout the playoffs, and undoubtedly before that, too.

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