What do Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon and Lakers point guard Jordan Farmar have in common? More than you might think. Neither Papelbon nor Farmar start for their respective teams, but both know what it takes to finish.
Veteran point guard Derek Fisher may start for the Lakers, but Farmar?s leadership in the fourth quarter of games may dictate whether or not the Lakers repeat as NBA champions this season.
Farmar has earned the respect of his teammates with his strong play in the closing minutes of games. In Monday?s NBA Finals rematch against the Orlando Magic, Farmar took control of the team in the final quarter.
A Los Angeles Times report chronicled Farmar?s conversation with Shannon Brown during the fourth quarter.
"Now is our time," Farmar told Brown, according to the Times.
"I?m in," Brown replied.
Brown responded to Farmar?s challenge, finishing the game with 22 points.
Not only did Farmar motivate Brown, he motivated the rest of his teammates as well. The backup point guard led the Lakers on a 19-3 run in the fourth quarter and keyed the team?s 98-92 victory.
Following the game, Farmar and Brown earned praise from head coach Phil Jackson.
"I told them they were the ones," Jackson told the Times. "They were the reason why we got this game."
Jackson recognizes Farmar?s leadership, but also understands the 23-year-old is a talented basketball player who gives the team options on the floor. As a result, Jackson has used Farmar more frequently in recent weeks.
"We're trying to open the floor up a little bit and speed the game," Jackson told the Orange County Register, "but it's all responsibility — getting out there and doing the things that are beneficial to our team."
Farmar may not know how to throw a fastball like Papelbon, but he can lead a fast-paced offense for the Lakers. Jackson and the Lakers can only hope he helps the franchise capture its 16th world championship.