Sunday, January 30, 2011
It’s back; Lakers, Celtics.
The historical rivalry returns to where it last took place. The Celtics return to the Staples Centre for the first time since that unforgettable Game 7 where the Lakers captured its 16th championship, trailing only the Celtics’ 17 titles.
I make no secret of my unabashed love for the Celtics. However, I hold a high level of respect for the old-school Lakers of the 80s. Between 1980 and 1989, the Lakers or Celtics played in every NBA Finals (meeting three times) with the Lakers winning five titles and the Celtics winning three. In my opinion, there is no greater personal rivalry in sport than that of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Not only were they incredible basketballers but also they played with a high level of intensity every game, year-in, year-out.
That’s what makes me despise these Kobe-led Lakers; their attitude that they can take games off without consequences. I resent their conceited ways, their smugness, and their cockiness.
The Lakers violate all beliefs for a sports purist of performing at your best every game.
What makes it even more bothersome is that not only is it acknowledged but players and fans accept it. Earlier this season on Christmas Day, in what was a nationally-televised match of significant proportions, the Lakers lost 96-80 to the Miami Heat. Inexcusably, they looked lethargic and sluggish. Ironically, Lamar Odom called his team “cocky”. ESPN LA journalist Ramona Shelburne states that the Lakers receive “a long leash from their fans”. Shelburne adds “the Lakers have been this kind of team for the better part of a decade, brilliant when they need to be, maddeningly blasé when they’re bored”.
This would never be tolerable for Celtics fans.
Despite making the NBA Finals, Celtics fans hold bitter feelings about the team’s mediocre effort towards the end of the regular season last year. Boston basketball is promoted on “working-class grit” of hustle and teamwork. It’s the antithesis to the Lakers’ “Hollywood Style” of glitz, glamour and showboating.
The thing that is most exasperating is that despite home losses to sub-.500 teams, including Memphis, Indiana, Phoenix, Milwaukee as well as Friday’s loss to Sacramento, it is inevitable that the Lakers will feature in this year’s NBA Finals. They’re too good when they want to be. Just watch how they will rise to the occasion tomorrow. Rivalries always bring out the best in you. It is what sport is all about.
Nevertheless, enjoy tomorrow’s game as one of the most storied rivalries in sport writes another intriguing subplot tomorrow. It will be fiercely competitive between the two most successful franchises in basketball. The old-school style of defense at all costs will have many salivating. Just to add fuel to fire, Shaq will return to LA, where he won three championship rings. This time he will be wearing Celtic-green.
Regardless of the outcome tomorrow, it will be minuscule to what-could-be in June.
There’s just one thing left to say;
- The Messenger