On Thursday, the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers will meet in the NBA finals for the 12th time, renewing one of the greatest rivalries in sports.
Contrary to popular belief, this is not a match-up of the two teams that met in 2008. Both teams have matured and changed a lot in the past two years.
The following slide show presents the four major differences between their 2008 match-up and their upcoming meeting in the 2010 NBA Finals.
Preceding their 2007-2008 championship run, the face of Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant, was exploring trade options, while the city of Los Angeles was in a chaotic uproar over the possibility of losing their star.
As we all know, Kobe decided to stay in Los Angeles and all seemed well at Staples Center until Bryant began calling out young center Andrew Bynum during the pre-season, famously being caught on a videophone saying "Ship his ass out of here."
Bryant admitted to solving previous issues with Bynum, saying that he was ready for another championship run, only to lose the center before the playoffs.
This season, however, Bynum is back—healthy or not—and the Lakers' offense has once again returned to top form.
With Bynum back at the center position and Pau Gasol playing his natural power-forward position, the Celtics will have more size to counter on defense than when they fell to the Celtics in 2008.
Once considered the weakest offensive weapon on the Boston Celtics' championship roster, Rajon Rondo has solidified himself as the team's most dangerous asset on the floor.
This season, Rondo is averaging nearly seven more minutes of playing time, while improving his field goal percentage by 16 percent from the 2007-2008 season.
Rondo has carried the Celtics through the playoffs thus far, and the Finals will be no different.
With Rondo playing at his best, Zen Master Phil Jackson will have much more to ponder since their 2008 meeting.
With the addition of Ron Artest last offseason, the Lakers not only added another offensive asset, but a defensive menace as well.
Artest takes the pressure to be the team's most tenacious defender off of Kobe Bryant, and added a dangerous weapon to neutralize Paul Pierce.
The Lakers have proposed that Kobe Bryant may have to guard point guard Rajon Rondo, requiring Artest to stop Paul Pierce from dominating the Lake Show from the perimeter—where Sasha Vujacic and Vladimir Radmonovic were completely outmatched in 2008.
No matter how much either team downplays the "revenge" talk, it's there, and will be a huge factor this time around.
As seen throughout the past 14 years in the NBA, Kobe Bryant doesn't take losing lightly, and will give everything he has to stop the Celtics from lifting the Larry O'Brien trophy at his expense once again.