Lakers Shouldn't Be the Only Angry Team During This Year's Finals
Funny how things change isn't it? Or maybe more correctly, it's funny how they stay the same.
I remember a couple of years ago when I had learned that my second-favorite basketball team of all-time (behind my hometown warriors of course), the Celtics had acquired two NBA all-stars in an attempt to revive their franchise and become champions once again.
That first year of the newly-deemed "Big Three" in Boston couldn't have gone more smoothly with the Celtics out-muscling, out-working, and all-in-all out-playing the Los Angeles Lakers in order to gain their first NBA Finals victory in a long, long time.
But one thing that is often forgotten about that championship series is that, despite the team that had been assembled in Beantown, the 2008-09 season had suddenly become the time of Kobe Bryant.
Kobe's Lakers were still an average team for about half the season, but then they somehow managed to convince the Memphis Grizzlies to give them All-Star center Pau Gasol for essentially nothing (save one pretty good player in Pau's younger brother, Marc).
Suddenly, the Lakers' luck began to turn around and they were again the best in the West. Kobe became a media darling, winning his first NBA MVP as the Lakers stormed through the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Celtics struggled through the first two rounds of the playoffs, getting taken to seven games by two inferior teams in the Hawks and the Cavaliers, before beating the Pistons in six. Still, when the NBA Finals rolled around, the Celtics' spectacular rejuvenation was forgotten due to the Lakers' dominance.
They were the heavy favorite going into the series, mostly due to their impressive performance thus far in the playoffs, compared to the Celtics' inconsistent one. Los Angeles appeared deeper, younger, and more talented than the scrappy Boston team.
The Celtics soon changed everyone's view quite dramatically, bullying the Lakers on their way to a six-game Finals victory. A year later, however, they were forced to watch as the lost Kevin Garnett to injury and were eliminated by the Orlando Magic in seven games. The Lakers disposed of that Magic team in five games and Boston was left wondering what could have been.
Well, here is their chance to live it. Again, the Lakers are the heavy favorites heading in and seem to be going as strong as ever. But the Celtics have plenty of reasons to believe.
From their young, talented, energetic point guard to their suddenly very productive bench and suffocating defense. But despite all this, the series is again being treated as if Kobe Bryant is the protagonist, and how he can come one step closer to cementing his legacy by getting his revenge on all of Boston.
The result of these Finals seems again as if it's a foregone conclusion. Paul Pierce said it best when he said that the Lakers' 2009 championship meant nothing because it didn't come against their heated rival from Boston.
Maybe it wasn't a great thing to say, but it should be on the mind of every Celtic right now. They should be mad. They should be steaming. They should be furious that they seem to be looked at as simply a stepping stone to Bryant's all-time goal as being one of the greatest ever.
Being the antagonist to Kobe's protagonist seems to be a role the Celtics relish. Maybe it isn't so bad, maybe being the "good guy" is overrated. And maybe, just maybe, being the "bad guy" in the eyes of the media will help the Celtics show the world that, in real life, the villain always wins.
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