From: Gonzalez, John

To: Ford, Bob; Fox, Ashley
Subject: Finals exam

Today's Talkin' will be a two-part essay. Please open your blue books and sharpen your No. 2 pencils. And if I catch either of you cheating, you'll be sent straight to Principal Leary's office.

1. During the Eddie Jordan press conference, Ed Stefanski seemed pretty happy that the Orlando Magic reached the NBA Finals. He made it sound like losing to a team that makes the Finals means the Sixers must be pretty good or at least not bad. You buying that?

2. The Finals start tomorrow. Who ya got?

From: Fox, Ashley
To: Ford, Bob; Gonzalez, John
Subject: Finals exam

I can't cheat off Ford. He's writing his essays in French.

1. If you have to lose, you always want to lose to the eventual champ, but that was just one more delusional thought from that press conference. Like how you don't need a point guard to run the Princeton offense. Or how the Sixers don't need a shooter because everyone else can simply improve. Or how the Eds only exchanged text messages during the last couple of years and so the coaching search really was a wide-open exercise and not, as we suspected, a one-man race. I know you're not supposed to throw your new team under the bus on day one, but there was a lot of misguided optimism coming out of there on Monday.

2. Lakers. In six.

From: Ford, Bob
To: Gonzalez, John; Fox, Ashley
Subject: Finals exam

I was one of those guys who didn't think much of the Magic when the Sixers played them. They looked scared to take a shot, seemed to be coached by a raving lunatic, and possessed just one studly player. So, yes, Stefanski can salve the memory of that series loss - and that horrific last game - by noting that the Magic weren't so bad, after all.

To me, it also points up that, in the NBA, you can have the wrong coach, little or no system, a bunch of so-so role players, and can even suffer an injury to an important component (Jameer Nelson) and still win big as long as you have a superstar. That is what should really terrify Stefanski, because it's hard to see how the Sixers will get one stuck in their current spot.

Lakers in six.

From: Fox, Ashley
To: Ford, Bob; Gonzalez, John
Subject: Finals exam

They could always get LeBron next summer. Bonne chance!

From: Gonzalez, John
To: Ford, Bob; Fox, Ashley
Subject: Finals exam

Yeah, that was one awesome presser. I love how Ed and Eddie kept pushing the idea that Jason Smith is a distance shooter. They wouldn't let it go.

By the way, Ash, not sure if you know this, but Buttons can really run the point. If Andre Miller walks, maybe the Eds can find a place for Ford. I can see him and J. Smith crushing three-pointers and running the Princeton offense to perfection. Can you say championship?

Oh, and I'll take the Lakers in five.

From: Fox, Ashley
To: Ford, Bob; Gonzalez, John
Subject: Finals exam

Ford is a versatile athlete. Hoops. Soccer. Softball. The man has skills. When was the last time you were in the gym, John?

From: Ford, Bob
To: Gonzalez, John; Fox, Ashley
Subject: Finals exam

Gonzo thinks the game, Ashley. That's hard work, too.