Borrego liked the contrast of styles: the run-and-gun Nuggets against the behemoth Lakers, starting the Pau Gasol-Andrew Bynum mega-frontcourt. Bynum averaged 17 points and 12 rebounds per game for the series, and put up a triple-double — including 10 blocked shots — in the Lakers’ Game 1 win. “A lot of our guys probably don’t even know Andrew Bynum,” Borrego said. The series was also incredibly physical. The offensive teams rebounded almost 37% of all misses, a mark that would lead the league today by a laughable margin. The teams combined for 47 offensive rebounds in the Lakers’ 96-87 win in Game 7; Gasol had six — all in a row — on one pivotal fourth-quarter possession. “Part of this is to show them what physical playoff basketball looks like,” Borrego said. “This is where we want to get to someday. Let’s study it.”
All the players said they enjoyed learning more about the classic NBA characters in that series. Obviously, today’s players love watching peak Bryant — now more than ever. Bynum has become something of a curiosity. “People forget how good Bynum was,” Zeller said. “He was a monster.” Caleb Martin said he was surprised at the speed and athleticism of a young Danilo Gallinari, playing almost full time as a wing. “You know of these guys, but you never sit down and actually watch them play a full game,” Cody Martin said.