Lakers' Nation is committing one of sports' cardinal sins—and they're doing it on live national TV and they're not even afraid to show it.
They're looking ahead.
"We Want Boston! We Want Boston!"
That is because the Lakers/Celtics rivalry casts a shadow much larger than the conference Finals. It's a conflict that has spilt blood for half a century, with the Finals matchup in 2008 reopening the wound that had been scabbed over for 20 years. A rematch, like the stars do on occasion, is lining up.
It's almost time.
Particularly for Lakers fans, the chance to redeem ourselves for 2008 is so personal and so tantalizing, it's impossible to not be consumed by it.
This year, the championship means so much, because it can come at the hands of our arch rival.
Last year's championship was important. It fundamentally altered the career of Pau Gasol. It made Phil Jackson the winningest coach of all time. It removed the gorilla named Shaquille from Kobe's back.
But let's face it, doing it over the Orlando Magic was a little juiceless.
The Lakers and Celtics are hurling toward each other with a full head of steam. The switches have been flipped and both squads are in peak form. Most importantly, there are no excuses for either side.
Both teams are healthy. In 2008 the Lakers found themselves in the convenient position of landing in the Finals, starting the season with no expectations and seemingly delighted just to be there.
They weren't ready.
Now, both teams are champions. There are no lights bright enough to phase either side. The Celtics Big Three have never lost a playoff series. Neither have the Lakers' big three of Kobe, Pau, and Bynum. And neither squad has lost in the Finals with homecourt advantage.
Something's gotta give.
Game 4 of the 2008 Finals was the worst day of my life . An article on ESPN foreshadowing this year's probable Finals matchup erupted with comments between confident Boston fans and bitter Lakers fans.
Some of the comments from Celtics fans were hard for me to read. Even so, much of my irrational hatred for the Celtics has been fostered with a healthy respect for them. I respect the way they battled last season without KG. I admire the way they've handled the two juggernauts (and favorites to win it all) in the east. I admire their 2004 Piston-like teamwork and defense.
Again—no disrespect to the Suns—2008 just stings so bad.
Sure, we've won since then, but this is a chance to cleanse that bitter taste with the purifying power of vindication. I thought we'd never get our chance, but the Celtics have lived up to their end of the bargain and are delivering the opportunity for either payback, or for them to ram defeat irreparably further down our throats.
But we need the chance.
We need this.
"We Need Boston! We Need Boston!"