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Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010 at 8:00 am  |  28 responses

Enjoy The Finals

Yes, the Lakers are meeting the Celtics in the finals again. But please don’t complain.

by Rey Moralde / @TheNoLookPass

And here we go again. It’s the Los Angeles Lakers versus the Boston Celtics for the 12th time in NBA Finals history.

People are saying this match-up is played out. That we don’t need to see this. Maybe it’s because I’m from Southern California that I relish this series but, truth be told, a lot of us grew up on the Lakers versus Celtics duels in the ’80s.

First off, if you’re truly a fan of the game, you have to love this. The history is there. The star power. The rivalry. And, most of all, appreciate on how these two teams are the best of the best. They didn’t get here by accident. I personally waited two years for this rematch. Sure, we saw the Los Angeles Lakers go up and down throughout the season. Sure, we saw the Boston Celtics struggle to a fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. But we figured the Lakers were the most talented team in the West and we thought the Celtics could do damage once they were completely healthy. The Lakers beat a very game Oklahoma City Thunder, an overmatched Utah Jazz team, and the very resilient Phoenix Suns on the way to the Finals while Boston crushed the Miami Heat, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Orlando Magic. These teams are the best in their respective conferences, bar none.

This is the second time in three years that the Lakers and Celtics are facing each other in the Finals. How can this be played out? We all know the rich history of this rivalry. A lot of our fond memories of the NBA involved Magic Johnson against Larry Bird. Did we say they were played out? No. We always look back and go, “Man, I miss the days when Magic ran Showtime,” or “Wow, I miss the clutch play of Larry Bird.” In the era of free agency, it’s rare for teams to have Finals rematches (the last one being the Bulls and the Jazz in ’97 and ’98). This match-up is even more special because it’s the two most storied franchises in NBA history. We have to appreciate what we have here. Ten years from now, I’m pretty sure we’ll say stuff like, “Remember when Ray Allen hit those big three-point shots,” or “Do you remember that monster game Kobe Bryant had in Game 3?”

This may not have the deep rivalry that Magic Johnson and Larry Bird had. But this series has serious star power.

Let’s look at the Lakers really quick. Kobe Bryant is one of the best players ever in history. Pau Gasol may be the most successful foreign-born player in the NBA. Lamar Odom may be the best player today who has never made an All-Star team. And Ron Artest is… Ron Artest. He’s fun. He’s crazy. He’s unpredictable. Who wouldn’t want to watch Ron Artest?

On the Celtics, we have Paul Pierce, who will go down as one of the best players the Celtics ever had. Kevin Garnett is rejuvenated and his intensity is unparalleled. Ray Allen has one of the sweetest shots ever. We’re seeing a new star in Rajon Rondo. And Rasheed Wallace may counter Ron Artest in terms of being fun, crazy, and unpredictable.

And we know the storylines. Boston is going after its 18th banner. The Lakers are trying to go after their 16th. Phil Jackson may bolt whether or not he gets his 11th ring as coach. Kobe Bryant wants to cement his legacy by winning his 5th ring (ahead of Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan) and by beating the Boston Celtics. Kevin Garnett guaranteed back-to-back titles for the Celtics. And while most of these players have won rings before, Ron Artest, Nate Robinson, and Marquis Daniels would love to taste a championship.

We’re going to get moments out of this. Two years ago, it was all too painful for Laker fans to remember Paul Pierce channeling his inner Wolverine by coming back a few minutes after being carried away by a wheelchair. There is the 24-point lead that was lost in Game 4 of that Finals. There’s the Sasha Vujacic meltdown. What moments are we going to see in this Final?

If you’re a real NBA fan, what’s to hate about this? This is becoming reminiscent of the Celtics and the Lakers that met in the ‘80s. Those two teams met three times in the Finals and we remember them fondly for their dominance in that decade. I wouldn’t mind if these two teams did the same thing for a little while.

One thing’s for sure: I’m going to be watching and enjoying this final round. We’re all witnessing a Laker team that may be great for years to come, including what could be the final chapters of Kobe Bryant’s NBA career. And we could be seeing the Celtics’ last stand with age creeping in to the core of the team. I will be sad when this is all over; a lot of us will pine for this match-up if it never happens again. So I advise everyone to enjoy this match-up while it’s in front of us. That way, we can tell the younger generation in the coming years how we witnessed some great basketball in the 2010′s the same way our elders would remind us time and again about how great the Lakers and Celtics were in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and especially the ‘80s.

Rey Moralde is the founder and editor of TheNoLookPass.Com

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  • stokesey

    Make no mistake about it, this series will be epic!

  • zabba

    First. Great article.

  • RJ

    reading this, it just clicked to me that Kobe won’t be playing forever… and we’re going to have to watch a laker team in the near future with someone else manning the superstar role..

  • http://thekobebeef.wordpress.com LDR4

    You can sugar coat the series all you want in the history of the two teams but people are still going to be detractors. I must say I was less than thrilled to see this matchup again. I do think that it will be a good series, not great, but certainly better than last year’s finals. Kobe will be Kobe, for me the matchup is Pierce – Artest and Garnett – Gasol. Oh and to your suggestion that Pau may be the best European player I have one word: Dirk.

  • larrylegend

    foreign-born player = GINOBILI!

  • grenners

    foreign-born player = Hakeem

  • http://www.laumol.nl/weblog Laumol

    I am so going to watch this. Even if it means going to my brother-in-law in the middle of the night to watch the games on pay-per-view when they broadcast it live in Europe at midnight. Go Lakers!

  • MattM

    I am interested to see what the Lakers do about Rondo. Two years ago they just laid off of him but he is leaps and bounds better and more confident then he was then.

  • http://www.twitter.com/Th3_R3al_Chris Th3_R3al_Chris

    Yeah, maybe Gasol is the most successful EUROPEAN-born player, but Hakeem Olajuwon was not born in the States.

  • http://TheNoLookPass.Com Rey-Rey

    LDR4: There will always be detractors. Very aware of that. But even my brother, who’s a die-hard NBA fan, thinks this series is played out. And he grew up on Lakers Vs Celtics. And as for Pau and Dirk? I said most successful, not best. Pau is a great player… AND he has a ring.

  • http://TheNoLookPass.Com Rey-Rey

    Th3_R3al_Chris: Good looking out. Thanks. DJ Mbenga may have something to say about Hakeem Olajuwon soon, though. ;)

  • D.

    Let’s put it this way: how many times Celtics and Lakers have played against each other in the past 23 years? This would be just their 2nd time. So I don’t want to hear people complaining about those two teams playing in the Finals against each other ALL THE TIMES. This is BS. Maybe it was true in the ’60s but not now. If, say, Jazz and Bulls met in this year’s Finals, it would’ve been their 3rd meeting in 14 years, more than Celtics/Lakers. And I highly doubt people would’ve complained about it. So it’s all about perceptions.

    Besides, if the Magic or Spurs or Suns made the Finals I’m sure most people would’ve called it boring. Right? People are never happy.

    What really matters is that Lakers and Celtics are the two teams who are playing the best basketball in the league and are hot as ever. So, as a basketball fan, how could you not be excited about it? If you can’t handle it go watch regular season baseball.

  • Hussman25

    If people want to complain, they need to discuss their displeasure to the other franchises who let this matchup happen… U cant hate the Lakers or the C’s for doing their jobs and making it to the finals… Kudos 2 both teams. (Celtics in 6) Sad to say…SMH

  • Gilamuffin

    Great article! I think this will be a great series.. Look forward to seeing the Celtics get it.

  • O***

    Okey, this might just be me but all this talk about rivalry. Fine the rivalvry was there in the 80s between the celtics – lakers and that’s cool and all. But I personally don’t feel like there’s much rivalry now. At least not as much as the media is trying to hype it up to be. Larry and Magic played for the same teams for 12+ seasons and faced each other 5 times if i’m not wrong?
    Pimp-my-Celtics and the Lakers of the 00s have faced each 1 time before this years final and this does not qualify to be called a rivalry in my opinion.

    Feel free to disagree :)

  • larrylegend

    is hakeem american…tim duncan not born in the us of a…

  • KB24

    @O***

    No Rivalry right now? Are you kidding me? One playoff series (in the Finals no less) merits rivalry. Since 2000, only 4 teams have beaten Kobe – Spurs, Detroit, Phoenix, Celtics. You just saw what he did to the Suns for revenge. What do you think he’ll do to the Celtics for his 5th ring? The first meeting in ’08 I’ll admit was no rivalry just nostalgia. Since then, though, the only thing the Lakers think about is that series and this Celtics team. It’s the same cores of teams in both sides and they HATE each other. If this series isn’t a rivalry, even excluding everything before ’08, then I don’t know what is. And now imagine having Magic, Kareem, Worthy, West at Staples and Bird, McHale, Russell, Ainge at the Garden. Tell me that isn’t a rivalry.

  • http://www.twitter.com/GerardHimself Gerard Himself

    couldn’t agree more with this article. Looking forward to tomorrow.

  • http://www.dimemag.com Lucas Shapiro

    YEAH REY! This is what we were talking about man! Good ish.

  • http://www.davissportsdeli.com/wordpress/ Patrick

    Rey, good debut at SLAM man. Glad you’re a contributor now.

  • Jeremiah

    after reading this article, i am now more excited about the Finals. keep up the good job.

    wow i’m very suprised that odom was never an allstar.

  • http://www.violetkanian.com Violet

    Rey.. greatttt article!!! I personally LOVE the match up. I was hoping and praying for this since the beginning of the season. For those saying its not a rivalry.. ARE U KIDDING ME? No two teams hate each other more than the Lakers and Celtics.. no two team’s fans hate each other more as well. This series will go down in history regardless who wins (LAKERS!).. Revenge will be SO sweet!! I CAN’T WAIT!

  • Lantern2814.5

    I want to enjoy the series and hope it goes 7-games…I’m not decided on who I want to win…maybe the Celts…but the only reason is so that the Lakeshow becomes real serious in thickening up their front line due to the loss…Bynum still has the upside, but the Lakers really deserve better in terms of bigs…

  • Lantern2814.5

    I’m still cool if the Lakeshow wins though… try catching up w/ the clutch plays, the Finals MVPs, 5 titles, and more at that point Lebron… it’ll be fun to watch you play catch up and see if you at least match Kobe since I’m sure it won’t be MJ… whether w/ the Cavs or Knicks, or whatever…

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    People are going to complain no matter what. Think about all the Finals over the past decade. Miami and Kidd’s Nets were “weak teams” who reached the Finals. Detroit and San Antonio, every time they got to the finals, were “boring”. And now “oh it’s Boston and LA again”. It’s all nonsense. Any and every hoops die hard out there is absolutely pumped about this match up.

  • http://Www.slamonline.com Negetivekreep

    No this is not the Boston Lakers rivalry of the 80′s, because… it’s the frickin year 2010. C when Kobe & Shaq were wining chips earlier this decade the C’s were busy sucking ballz. Then, in the year 2008 they kicked Kobe & his Lakers in the Ballz making This is a NEW rivalry. Get it?

  • Aniol

    Great article, full of right observations and wisdom.
    Another chapter in basketball history, another epic poem to be written, a few more battles about to begin…
    The sound of the nets and the balls falling, the fear in your opponent’s face defending your next move, the warrior’s smell on the atmosphere, and suddently darkness sorrounds you, and the noise is infinite, and you have a bullet left, and time stops, silence comes, and then you see the sunshine on the seventh day, and the battlefield is empty.
    May the best team win.
    Love to all from Barcelona.

  • http://www.plaintalk2010.com Corey Washington

    The NBA won’t make real money until Kobe plays Lebron in the Finals. I hope Kobe doesn’t get old like Magic got old before he played MJ. That would be tragic!!!

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