Friday, May 21, 2010
I Speak Prematurely: Lakers-Boston Celtics in an Epic Theater For the Ages
Before the NBA season comes to a closure, the people obsessed with sports are anxiously ready to see an epic showdown among two franchises with bad blood, and wishing to badmouth each other in a physical clash.
This has been an uninteresting postseason of ills and very little excitement, besieged with all the uncertainty and uncompetitive series that lasted fewer than six games.
So save the best for last in the NBA Finals, a contest that will last approximately seven games, based on all the talent and poise each team presents. The world gazes at Kobe Bryant, arguably the preeminent shooting guard of this age, despite that he was teased previously in a Los Angeles Times photo for wearing a headband, bow tie, and a top hat, becoming the latest model in humiliating photos.
The world also stares at the Boston Celtics, a reviving franchise with three aging star players finding ways to survive and outlast opponents by playing unstoppable defense and enduring the improbable pursuit.
As of recently, the tradition and mystique has gradually resounded Celtic Pride, and the Celtics has endured the probable thoughts of winning its second championship in three seasons, en route to capturing its 18th championship possibly against the archrivals.
It would be interesting to see if the Lakers can beat the Celtics, avenging and erasing the devastating loss in the Finals two years ago. To this day, the Lakers still have a bitter and ill-natured psyche after the series ended badly in a disheartening 131-92 loss in Game Six at Boston.
Now, two years later, the Lakers have a personal vendetta against its archenemies, dating back to the ‘60s era when Wilt Chamberlain feuded with Bill Russell, then the ‘80s era when Magic Johnson and Larry Bird engendered the spotlight on the hardwood with non-stop, thrilling masterpieces.
So now, in a modern generation, one of the greatest rivalries in sports lives on. Every now and then, the Lakers-Celtics battle ascends eternal rivalries, upon gazing at the physical bouts and feuds between a pair of franchises with much animosity. It’s fair to assume that the captivating scuffles and competitive series creates a dislikable sequence, and when the two encounter each other for an eye-popping matchup, the world stares at the Lakers-Celtics.
Either way, for some, it’s good versus evil or evil versus good, whichever team fans prefer.
But it’s clear evidence that the Lakers are resentful over the way it ended, after they were humiliated and finished the season miserably, seeking revenge to remove the misery of a dreadful ending amid a winnable series.
Two years ago, Boston, a long-time nemesis, dismantled Los Angeles in the entire series, winning in a lopsided fashion by out-playing, out-hustling, and out-coaching the Lakers. In a sluggish postseason, Bryant is verified as the toughest and greatest basketball player of a modern generation, enduring injuries and severe pain in all parts of his body.
From a bad knee to a fractured index finger to back spasms and tweaked ankle, he has withstood a variety of pain, but is portrayed as the sterling finisher in the game. He’s a rare athlete nowadays, compared to the legendary great Michael Jordan, becoming a facilitator and the fiercest scorer in the game. Even though he’s hampered with injuries, he still dazzles and scores 30 to 40 points, leading the Lakers to a 2-0 lead against the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Finals.
As it stands, he’s aiming at a second consecutive NBA championship for his fifth ring and would ease closer towards validating a superlative legacy, one shy of Jordan in the rings category. Perhaps in this era he’ll become one of the most decorated players in the league, but will also transcend popularity as he currently has the top selling jersey among NBA stars. It’s always good to beat the archrivals, especially when it contributes to adding another championship banner and tie the Celtics for the most titles in league history and reach a peek by winning it all.
In what has the makings of an epic theater, the Lakers and Celtics are both top-level franchises, assembled with depth, willpower, firepower, and talent to ignite a heavyweight war. Truth is, this will only become bloodier in a few weeks, with one of these teams suffering mortals. But it’s unknown which team poses as the villainous and deadliness enemy, when all of us will finally see an infatuating rematch. It’s simple to predict that it will be the Lakers and Celtics in a collision course at the finals.
This brings us to believe that it will go down as one of the most compelling series in sports, all while watching if the aging Celtics can outlast and compete against the younger Lakers or if the invigorated Celtics can obstruct the Kobe Show with constant double-teaming or defending the four-time champ of facilitating.
But now, Boston is playing like an unbeatable force that can win another championship and toy with the minds of the Lakers, just as Phil Jackson mocks opponents with his physiological mind games.
This time, the Celtics may get the last laugh, especially if the Lakers enter the series sluggish and unalarmed, then the Big Three devours Team Hollywood like a JV high school team without enough talent or self-motivation. By now, they’ve learned their lesson after getting defaced and belittled by the fans and media for a casual and unconscious performance in the finals two years ago. With much doubt, the Celtics weren’t even considered to advance to the finals this year, based on Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen's aging bodies breaking down mentally and physically.
When skeptics dismissed the Celtics of returning back to championship form and were labeled as the oldest and slowest team, all people clearly forgot that they had depth, size, and experience, which is seen in the Eastern Conference Finals as Boston isn’t a match for the Orlando Magic. Months ago, the Celtics weren’t even in conversation of sustaining triumph, but there were speculations of early retirement for Garnett and Doc Rivers was considering on taking hiatus to spend time with his kids.
But make no mistake, if the Celtics win again, he’ll be given a long-term contract and Garnett will play for a few more years. We can argue about whether the Lakers can beat the Celtics, two teams overachieving and endeared for uplifting the souls within a spectacular sport. But the Lakers consist of the Kobe Show, airing nightly at Staples Center.
He’s admired as a finisher, clutch superstar, an unstoppable shooter, and as the greatest player since Jordan retired and left his throne. With the supporting cast and contributions of the eccentric and weirdo Ron Artest finally making shots, the size and athleticism of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum and the resurgence of Lamar Odom, the Lakers are unbeatable, but understand that Boston will not surrender without a fight.
My inclination is that the Lakers-Celtics is a final all basketball loyalist wishes to witness. Obviously, that’s the way it should turn out in the end. And if the Lakers win, it would be a shot of redemption, but if the Celtics win, it would be a proven theory that they weren’t so old after all.
Either way, prepare for a bloody skirmish.
It’s where amazing happens, remember.