What's Old is New Again, Celtics and Lakers to Square Off in NBA Finals

Dan PieroniCorrespondent IMay 31, 2008

If I'm an ABC Sports executive right now, I'm giddy with glee. I'm certainly aware of the fact that the NBA finals match-up with the potential for the largest ratings share is actually going to take place.

For the first time since 1987, the two most storied franchises in the history of the NBA will be battling it out on the hardwood for the right to be called the champion.

It will be the 11th time in the history of these two franchises that they will have met to decide the World Championship of the NBA. 

For those who have been turned off by the culture shock and style of play that has dominated the league in recent years, it's a breath of fresh air.

So much has changed both culturally and stylistically in the NBA since the last finals meeting between the rough-and-tumble Celtics and the glitzy and glamorous Lakers.

The NBA has evolved from a league that stressed teamwork and ball sharing into a forum in which a select few are blessed with the God given talent of being able to do everything on their own.

In other words, the game has become individualized and devoid of all teamwork in most instances.

The game also suffers from an identity crisis that has seen hard-working and able-minded players pushed out in favor of players with cornrows and tattoos all over their bodies.

This is certainly not your Father's NBA.

In short, many people such as myself have been turned off by the culture of the NBA in recent years and have longed to see a return to the fundamental principles that were employed by the great Lakers and Celtics teams of the 1970's and 1980's.

I was too young to remember the last time these giants of roundball met in the NBA finals. 

By watching enough ESPN Classic, I know that this epic rivalry has been personified by great moments from both teams such as Gerald Henderson's game two steal in 1984 and Magic's baby skyhook that clinched the title in 1987.

What about the Celtics erasing a 17-point fourth quarter deficit to win their 11th championship and send Bill Russell out a winner in his final career game in 1969?

Or the often replayed moment of Kevin McHale giving Kurt Rambis a hard elbow in game four of the 84 finals triggering a heated fight between both squads?

Needless to say, there's a lot of history between these two teams on the NBA's biggest stage, and a reprisal of this long and storied rivalry is just what the NBA needs to salvage its faltering reputation among the straight-laced and purist NBA fan.

Throughout my lifetime, I've been treated to next generation revivals such as Star Trek and Degrassi Junior High, neither of which I was personally interested in.

However, a heated battle between the next generation of Lakers and Celtics certainly piques my interest.

I'm looking forward to a semi-revival of the types of match-ups that made the series in the 80's so compelling to watch.

Playing the roles of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird will be Paul Pierce and Kobe Bryant because like the two superstars of the past, the next generation stars can the game breaker for their respective teams.

Currently playing the roles of James Worthy and Kevin McHale will be Pau Gasol and Kevin Garnet.  They will be the next most likely candidates to carry the team on their back if Pierce and Bryant fail to deliver.

For every Danny Ainge vs. Byron Scott, there's Ray Allen vs. Lamar Odom. Heck, even Kendrick Perkins and Andrew Bynum may be a fun match-up to watch.

It may not have the same cachet as Robert Parrish and Kareem-Abdul-Jabbar, but you can bet that both of those youngsters will be at the top of their game.

In short, this is a series that is worth watching because both of these teams are evenly matched and held the best overall record in their respective conferences during the regular season.

As Terrell Owens would say, "Getcha popcorn ready." This is a series you won't want to miss.

I'll be watching Thursday night, will you?