When the NBA Finals tip off in just a couple hours, the brilliant and joyful memories of the Boston faithful, as well as the miserable and stunned feeling the now content fans of the defending champs had just two years ago, will all be forgotten.
Game 1 will have a clean slate; stat sheets filled with nothing but zeroes, and will be a renewal after a brief intermission of one of the greatest rivalries in sports.
Before even beginning, it’s a known fact that this series will leave one side shattered with the bitterest feelings of defeat, while the other will walk off with another championship trophy to add to an already full trophy case emanating with addicting championship gold.
Combined the storied franchises have won 32 finals out of the 63 championships played in NBA history.
Game 1 will be the 38th time that either the Celtics or Lakers have played in the finals – that’s almost 60% of NBA finals games.
Enough with the buildup…
Kobe’s averaging 29 points, six assists and five rebounds during the 2009-2010 playoffs.
He’s coming off one of the best series in his illustrious 13-year career in which he posted video game numbers that many thought were years past the 31-year-old mamba.
Sorry Lebron, you’re not the only one who can fill up the stat sheet Big-O style.
This matchup is more different from the 2008 Finals than most people think.
This Lakers team is different from the losing team of two years ago. Bynum’s hurt, but if he can get going early for even just the first quarter of every game, his impact will be felt. Yeah the Lakers have been taking a lot of heat for letting Ariza go and adding the whacky world of Ron Artest to the team, and while the Lakers signed Artest just in case they had to defend their trophy against Lebron James, Paul Pierce is the type of player that Ron Ron can limit.
The Lakers are more experienced as a cohesive unit and the Pau-Bryant tandem may have developed into the best 1-2 punch in the league (especially this post-season).
Meanwhile, how have the Celtics changed since their successful championship run of two years ago?
They’ve added a 38-year-old Rasheed Wallace who is putting up statistics that shout WASHED UP! and none of their big three have benefited from the two long seasons in between their last ring producing season.
What of that acclaimed big green defense?
In the 2007-2008 season the Celtics allowed 89.9 points per game…this season they are giving up 95.4.
Despite all the talk about Rajon Rondo’s improvement as a player and leader, the Celtics averaged nearly the same amount of points this season as they did in 2007-2008.
Yes, Derrick Fisher can’t guard Rondo.
Yes, KG probably will pester and body up Gasol better than anyone this post-season.
But Kobe is now only two rings away from Jordan’s six and the Celtics have nobody that is going to keep number 24 from getting his.
It’s hard to imagine a player of Kobe’s stature, i.e. one of the greatest players of all time/living legend, letting this long-awaited rematch slip out of his control.
Make sure to remember, respect and appreciate 20 years down the line just how special Kobe’s presence was to this rivalry, and how basketball at it’s finest was so heavily in balance with the play of number 24.