NBA FINALS: Lakers and Magic Begin Final Act Tonight

RD Lockhart@@lockhartlineContributor IJune 4, 2009

LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 16:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic dribbles the ball to the basket against Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers during their NBA game on January 16, 2009 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Magic won 109-103.   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 Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)es)

Ah yes, we've finally made it.

When the NBA Finals  tip off tonight in Los Angeles, the world will be watching as both team's take center stage in the final act of this year's epic NBA playoff chase. 

Both of this year's finalists, Orlando and LA, traveled very different routes to make it to the championship round.  A year removed from the defeat in their 29th Finals appearance, the Lakers return for their NBA record 30th trip in hopes of reaching the promise land for 15th time in team history. 

Phil Jackson goes for his 10th title as a head coach and superstar Kobe Bryant seeks his 4th title and first without the "Diesel" Shaquille O'Neal.

The upstart Orlando Magic and head coach Stan Van Gundy, have been underdogs for the entire playoffs and have been making believers throughout the league by defeating last year's champs Boston, and this season's NBA and media darlings Cleveland.

After trailing by two to one deficits in the first two rounds the Magic never trailed in the Eastern Conference finals dispatching King James and his band of Cavaliers four games to two in dominating fashion.

Honestly, no one outside the city of Orlando and the Magic locker room, thought when the playoffs began that the Magic would be representing the Eastern Conference in just their second finals appearance in franchise history. 

After point guard Jameer Nelson went down with a shoulder injury in the regular season the odd were decidedly stacked against the Magic to even make the playoffs.

However, on the strength of dominating play from their big man Dwight "Superman" Howard and lights-out shooting from behind the arc, they have done it and now face one final hurdle to complete the final chapter of their story book playoff run and secure their place in NBA history.

Though, denying Kobe Bryant and his Laker team won't be an easy task. 

The Lakers have several long defenders such as Walton, Gasol and Odom, that will surely make things tougher for the Magic's Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu and Mickael Pietrus to remain so sure-handed from behind the arc and in the paint around the rim.

Dwight Howard should continue his impressive play inside as he will surely become a household name after these Finals. 

However, the most telling matchups will occur with the stars on the bench. 

In the end, the team with the strongest supporting cast will hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy and claim the NBA title.  


The country's first fan, President Barack Obama picked the Lakers to win in six and many others are trumpeting the same sentiment with one notable exception.

Seven-time champion Robert "Big shot Bob" Horry went against the grain with his prediction  forecasting a Magic victory in six.

I won't go as far as predicting a Lakers sweep but I don't believe the Magic have enough to stop LA especially since the Lakers hold the home court advantage.

All of the games will surely be interesting from start to finish, but I'm going with President Obama, Lakers will triumph in six.