There are many things in life we could all live without, seeing a Celtics/Lakers finals however, is not one of those things. If you were born after June of 1987, you may have come to the conclusion that you'd never get to witness a NBA Finals of these epic proportions. The Bad Boy Pistons, The Jordan Years, Clutch City, Jordan Returns, Shaq's prime, Duncan's Quiet Dynasty, Bad Boys part II, and finally Dwayne Wade on fire, that is what we have lived through since the last Celtics v. Lakers finals. The prodigal series is on the cusp of a return and at last the NBA is BACK . . . . with authority.
They'll be no brawls, no Larry Legend, and no "Show Time" in 2008. Don't fret, because they'll be plenty to witness with the likes of Bean Bryant, The Truth, and Kevin Garnett. The greatest fans on the planet in Boston and the most famous fans on the planet in Los Angeles. When I write Monday afternoon I'll either be the most delighted sports fans around or the most pissed off member of fandom you know. Get yourself prepared for the showdown; I'll help.
Paul Pierce will be the next Boston Celtic to be have his number hoisted to the rafters, whether he has won a championship or not. The effort from Pierce in game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals was nothing short of amazing, not the first time we've seen this from Pierce. For you bandwagon riders, let me take you back to 2002 (insert dream sequence background music) Paul Pierce hoisted the likes of Tony Battie & Erik Williams on his back and carried the Celts to a Game 3 Eastern Conference finals victory, after outscoring the Nets 41-16 in the final quarter. In a disappointing series Pierce's play fell into the NBA abyss, after being resuscitated in 2008, he might just have his day. If anyone would be able to take the Celtics to the most daunted banner #17, it's Pierce.
Did we forget about the Phil Jackson/Red Auerbach rivalry? All due respect to Arnold, but Phil winning his 10Th championship ring against the franchise that Red built, that's drama. Red stands alone, but Phil Jacksons success with 2008 Lakers may be the best of all his runs. My fellow Celtic fans won't be thinking of anything else when Kobe misses a shot to win the championship while in the Garden II, the camera flashes to #2 in the rafters and chills run down my spine. The ghosts of Red or the mystique of the Zen Master, don't get much better than that my friends.
The validation of one Kobe Bryant will be RIGHT NOW. With Kobe inching closer and closer to his 4Th ring and 1st without Shaq, we've been forced to really ask the question, is Kobe in the conversation, the answer? Yes. Kobe Bryant's transformation into the ultimate closer in the NBA has been fascinating. The same guy we witnessed score 81 points in a game is now looking for the next pass to get his teammates involved. That same guy is looking to veteran point guard Derek Fisher for advice. Now that he's got Phil on his side and it's scary, when the San Antonio Spurs, the 4-time champion Spurs, admit that Kobe can just "take over" you know he's in their head. Kobe Bryant holding another trophy in his hands at the end of June would cap off an MVP season. A season in which we finally admit that despite what we think of Kobe as a person, you can't touch him on the basketball court.
Can Kevin Garnett shake off the playoff demons? For a guy who struggled for so long in the playoffs, Garnett is poised to take the ultimate stage and no one is more excited than him. Garnett's game plan in the finals will be classified in one word, two syllables, NASTY. While were on the subject, is there anyone you'd be more scared off when he's in the zone? A man who is willing to inflict punches to his own head at the free throw line, shouldn't think twice about inflicting them on you. As much as Barkley wanted to win a ring, KG wants it that much more.
I understand that all of this will be moot if the Celtics lose it in Game 7 and or the Lakers somehow crash and burn, but to completely ignore what is on the horizon is ludicrous, not the rapper. GAME ON.