The Magic returned from an uneventful game one blowout loss looking to even the series count, but could not hold off the Lakers in overtime.
Kobe Bryant is reminding all of us who might have forgotten why he is the best player in the NBA. Having Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, and Trevor Ariza among others certainly helps his cause, but when it is all said and done, Kobe will be mentioned in the same breath as Michael Jordan and other NBA greats.
As much as we may want to praise the Lakers in all their glory and crown Kobe “The Next MJ,” we still must give credit where credit is due. At the beginning of the playoffs, it was all about LeBron vs. Kobe, from all of the playoff previews and predictions you might have read to the over hyped Nike puppet ads.
The Magic, however, thought they should have a say in the matter, and rightfully so. After downing the Philadelphis 76ers, they moved on to challenge the Kevin Garnett-less but ever so resilient Boston Celtics. After falling into a 3-2 hole in the series, Dwight Howard had enough.
In a post-game press conference, he showed a side of him that many of us had not seen before, criticizing his coach for not getting him the ball and guaranteeing the Magic would come back and win the series. This provided what seemed like the much-needed spark for this Magic squad, and true to his word, Howard led the Magic past the Celtics and onward to the Eastern Conference Finals to face he "Chosen One" and the seemingly unstoppable force that was the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Going into the series, the Cavs had swept their previous opponents, the Pistons and the Hawks, and had a record of 8-0 in the 2009 playoffs. They had lost two total home games all year, holding a record of 43-2. The Magic did not back down and went on to win game one.
Down to the final second in game two, it seemed that the Magic had achieved the impossible, knocking off Cleveland in two straight games on the road. Then, as if right on cue, LeBron James hit the game-winning fade away three as time expired, rousing comparisons to Jordan with some going as far to say they had seen the second coming of Michael Jordan.
Unfortunately for Mo Williams of the Cavaliers, only one series guarantee would come true in the 2009 playoffs, as the Magic would go on to win the series on a count of 4-2. The Magic had stunned America, quieting those who said it was “destiny” for Los Angeles and Cleveland to meet in the Finals.
So while those who are in a comfortable position now to speak freely of how the “overachieving” Orlando Magic never had a chance, or just got lucky, I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate the Magic on an impressive and memorable journey to the NBA Finals. They deserve every bit of it.