Magic-Cavaliers: Slowly Tearing Lakers Fans Apart

General PeppersCorrespondent IMay 29, 2009

CLEVELAND - MAY 28:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Orlando Magic  during the 2009 Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 28, 2009 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)


It's such a strange word. Especially when used in sports; courageous bouts that are known to change at the drop of a hat.

There is a fork in the road for Lakers fans.

The path to the right leads one step closer to Boston's legendary 17.

The path to the left leads down a similar path, but this one has a fire-breathing dragon at the end... and the Lakers' apparent destiny.

Which is more important; winning with the sword or potentially dying in a legendary round of fisticuffs.

This is what has been going through the mind of Lakers fan for the past week.

On one hand there is the Orlando Magic, a team that defeated the Lakers during the regular season with the aid of the speedy three-point bomber known as Jameer Nelson.

The aging Derek Fisher posed no threat. Jameer Nelson then went out with a season ending injury and the Lakers breathed a heavy sign of relief. Not because he was feared, more so because it seemed destiny was falling into place.

The other hand held the Cleveland Cavaliers and, more importantly, LeBron James. Unlike any other team sport, basketball allows for individuals to take over a game in their team's absence—LeBron with his effortless drives and Kobe with his majestic shots from anywhere on Earth. 

No other teams in recent memory had two players who did so more eloquently. No two players in recent memory held such a connection and eternal importance.

Their destinies seemed intertwined.

Both sides knew it.

And for most of the season both teams helped these players live up to expectations; taking home the best records in their respective conferences.

The playoffs hit and the Cavaliers still seemed headed for destiny. They swept the first two rounds with relative ease. And they waited. Patiently. For their opposing eternal force to join them.

The Lakers struggled. Dropping an easy game to the Jazz and then letting the depleted Rockets push them to seven games. But still, they came out on top. Their destiny was still on track.

But now, as I sit and watch Game 5 of the Magic/Cavaliers series, as I watch the Magic just dominate the Cavaliers with matchups, as the Magic run the same high screen and roll over and over, I feel torn.

The Lakers match up well against the Magic. Lamar Odom is exactly what Rashard Lewis isn't looking for. Ariza matches up well with the slower Turkoglu. The Magic big men stay near the basket which is an advantage for the often lumbering Gasol/Bynum combination.

The series is a favorable one. Every team should want an easier path to the title. Phil Jackson should want the easier path to becoming the winningest coach of all time over the legendary Red Auerbach. In their ultimate goal, catching Boston's 17 titles, the Lakers should want the path that all but guarantees them one step closer.

But secretly, the Lakers want LeBron.

The Lakers want Kobe to answer the LeBron vs. Kobe debate with an emphatic jumper into the "Other 23's" royal face. Phil Jackson wants to know why he stopped winning "coach of the year" and guys like Mike Brown continue to do so.

They want to prove that they were the best team in basketball this year and the Cavaliers stole it from them by playing in the watered down Eastern Conference.

Conceitedly so, the Lakers believe this is their destiny.

Hubris be damned.

So, as I watch while LeBron James wills his team to a Game 5 win, I will cheer as loudly as possible.

In my head of course.


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