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Jerry West says he wasn’t calling those Lakers old

Jan 26, 2011, 2:35 PM EST

Image (1) jWest-thumb-250x166-18358.jpg for post 3706

A couple of days ago Jerry West — in what seemed a low-key venue in front of a bunch of car dealers in Southern California — questioned the Lakers defense, how long they could remain on top and used a favorite phrase of your grandparents, “long in the tooth.”

But he wasn’t talking about those Lakers being old. Exactly. West went on the Dan Patrick radio show today and took part in the newfangled trend of clarifying previous comments (as transcribed by the Orange County Register).

“It’s actually funny,” West said Wednesday morning on the Dan Patrick radio show. “A gentleman in the audience asked me why the (Lakers) don’t defend and I said that comes down to the age of players on the team. I wasn’t talking about the team (Lakers) at all.

“I’m shocked that someone wouldn’t think the Lakers can defend. I fully expect them to be back with a championship this season, with all due deference to San Antonio and the incredible job Greg Popovich and the organization has done down there.”

Um, how were we supposed to read that? The Lakers defense depends on how old the team they are facing is? But the Lakers are getting up there, right Mr. West?

“No question,” West told Patrick. “But look at the Boston Celtics. They’re older than the Lakers and everyone says they are one of the best defensive teams in the league.

“…. To me, they have to be the team that is the favorite. But they are getting older and the one opponent you don’t defeat in this league is age. And Boston will face that too.”

As usual, West is spot on here. It is a question we will discuss a lot in the next few years: How long is the Lakers title window open? Boston, too. But no doubt, that window is still open for both right now. Whether they are young enough to climb through it this year remains to be seen.

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