Maurice Cheeks was the point guard with the 1982-83 76ers who swept the Los Angeles Lakers in four games to win the NBA championship. He knows, he really knows, what it's like to be sooooo close to a title. He also knows what it's like to come agonizingly close and not make it. That's what happened in 1979-80 and '81-82, when the Sixers got to the championship series and lost--both times--to the Lakers.
He was also there as a Sixers assistant coach when they lost in five games in 2000-01, again to--who else?--the Lakers.
So he knows what it's like for the Phillies to be on the brink.
''You can't imagine where they are in terms of being (up) 3-1, '' said Cheeks, now the Sixers head coach, referring to the Phils' advantage over the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series. ''It's having a chance of winning, which is what we all play for. Whoever has never been in that position cannot imagine it.
''Having been there a couple times with a chance to try and win it, and then finally winning it, I didn't know what the other side was like until I won it. When you're the last team standing--most times you're not that team--that's a heckuva compliment.''