No matter how you slice it, the NBA jinxed itself.
As a true fan of the sport, nobody is laughing harder than I am.
This is what the fans deserve—the best finals series possible for 2009.
Sorry Lebron, but that doesn't include you.
Yes, the triple-double artist is one of the top three players in the game today, but can we take the crown off the King's head until he wins one now?
The two players ahead of him for best player in the game, Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade, each have rings. Sure, Lebron's been to the big series before, but plenty of athletes have been there.
The greats will win it.
They also won't let the best record in the NBA go to waste. That's exactly what the Cavaliers are about to do. Credit Charles Barkley, one of the very few analysts to pick Orlando to win the series.
Others expected a four or five game series win in favor of the Cavs.
Not only that, but Lebron and Kobe have essentially been paid to play each other in the finals. Nike and Vitamin Water are each running separate ad campaigns hyping up the two players.
As a fan of the sport, I find that demeaning.
There is way more to the NBA than Kobe Bryant and Lebron James. If the NBA is trying to attract new fans, that's an awfully shallow way to do it.
And the basketball gods have prevented it. They only answered Lebron's Game Two prayer out of pitty. Although it would have been great for Tony Kornheiser, had that shot not gone in, since he predicted all of Cleveland's series would be decided in four games.
Technically, he could have been right.
Instead, we'll likely be treated to a Magic-Nuggets or Magic-Lakers finals.
There are plenty of compelling storylines left in these scenarios:
Can Chauncey Billups guide the Nuggets to a title in the city he grew up in wearing the number of that city's greatest athlete, John Elway?
Can Superman win a title, and can Stan Van Gundy silence his critics and lead the Magic to their first title?
Can Kobe win a ring without Shaquile O'Neal?
Can Phil Jackson win his tenth title as an NBA coach and 12th overall?
And the most intriguing storyline: What happens to those Nike and Vitamin Water ads if neither Kobe nor Lebron make it to the finals?
Will the puppets sit on the couch depressed and lament their postseason woes?
Will the debate shift from Kobe vs Lebron to Alston vs Billups?
I'd hate to be the advertising executives who have to think through that scenario.
In the end, it all comes down to karma.
Not even sketchy officiating could derail the NBA's dream matchup from...well, derailing. This just goes to show that you can't count your chickens before they hatch, and that no matter how badly the league wishes it weren't true...the better team will always win a seven game series.