The Lakers are heading to Phoenix for Game Three and the Celtics are heading home for the same, but the NBA finals are set not because of the teams being up two a piece. They Lakers will play the Celtics in the Finals because history demands it.
It is an old axiom, but it still stands true. To be the best you have to beat the best. Nothing less will do.
In 1988, the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the rising Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals. In 1999, there was a rematch in the Finals, with the Detroit Pistons taking the title from the Champion Lakers, and then defending it against them again in the next year.
In 1991, the Chicago Bulls defeated the two-time NBA Champion Detroit Pistons to make it the Finals, a team that had defeated them in the Semi-Finals for two years straight. They demolished the Lakers in the Finals that year (4-1), a perennial threat in the West, and never looked back, winning three NBA Championships in a row.
All great teams feel cheated when they don't get a chance to unseat the great team before them. Houston will always have an asterisk next to their championship because they never defeated the Michael Jordan led Bulls of the first three-peat.
With one of the best centers of all time, Hakeem Olajuwon, surrounded by a team built to counter the Bulls with the likes of Clyde Drexler (vs. Jordan), Robert Horry (vs. Scottie Pippen), Otis Thorpe (vs. Horace Grant), Sam Cassell (vs. John Paxton), and with a cast of talent in Kenny Smith, Vernon Maxwell, and Mario Elie; as fans we were cheated of seeing the best talent in the league face off.
Similar to the Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao proposed fight, if the best doesn't face the best, we all lose.
Though the players won't say it (the politically correct line is for the teams to say that they don't care who they face in the Finals), both the Lakers and the Celtics wants to face each other.
Beyond the storied rivalry, the Lakers want to face the team that defeated them in the Finals two seasons ago and the Celtics want to prove that they are still the superior team.
Since the Lakers defeated the Magic in last year's Finals, and the Celtics will have to beat them to get to the Finals this year, it negates them from the equation.
The 2008 NBA Champion Celtics versus the 2009 NBA Champion Lakers is the matchup the fans deserve and the players want to see, no matter what they say...and history agrees with them.
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