BRISTOL, CT—In what he has confessed was "probably the gutsiest move of [his] career," ESPN.com sportswriter Marc Stein bumped the Los Angeles Lakers from the number four spot up to number three on his weekly NBA power rankings Monday. "I've done crazy things in the past, and I have gone against the mainstream, and I have put my job on the line in order to most accurately assign rankings to the 30 NBA teams—but this one tops them all," Stein said of his decision to move the 33-17 Lakers up one spot after the team acquired Pau Gasol and won five of their last six games. "Now I must either reap the rewards or face the ultimate consequence. If the Lakers keep it up, I am a god; if they falter and go 2-2 this week, I could be fired…Oh, God, what have I done? What have I done? I've gone too far!" The only feedback Stein has received thus far is an e-mail from NJFanMan2000, who claimed that the Lakers sucked and that the Nets should be No. 1.
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