The Los Angeles Lakers' opponent for the National Basketball Association championship series has yet to be determined, but the Lakers are practicing at Westmont College as if a rematch with the Detroit Pistons were inevitable.
Coach Pat Riley, in fact, said Thursday that he would be disappointed if the Pistons do not beat the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference finals because he said he wants the Lakers to prove that last season's seven-game series victory was not a fluke."We've got five days to develop a mind-set," Riley said. "(The Pistons) are so committed to the revenge thing. Their mission is to beat us. They are challenging us more than anyone's ever challenged us. We've got to want them more than they want you.
"If we go in there and say we just want to `three-peat' and win one for Cap (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), then you don't have the right competitive attitude. You've got to stimulate (the Laker players') minds more, bring back all the little things that were said last year, bring back some videotapes. You got to bring it all back, otherwise they forget. Then, after the first or second game, they'll realize what it was like."
Even though the Lakers would have the home-court advantage against the Bulls, Riley said he wants to win with a higher degree of difficulty.
"It would be the easier way out to play Chicago, because we'd have the home court and all that," Riley said. "This is the pursuit of pleasure versus the avoidance of pain. People have a tendency to avoid (the difficult) and move to what's easier. We want to move towards that which is difficult because we have a point to prove to them. We're here. Now, they have to do their job and get here."