In the EA franchise NBA 20-whatever, you can trade for any number of players and they mesh instantly, dishing the ball and alley-ooping as if they had played together for 10 years.
This past season featured two blockbuster trades, when the Minnesota Timberwolves and the team formerly known as the Seattle Supersonics dealt Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to the Boston Celtics for peanuts on the dollar. It amounted to forming an All-Star team in real life—the kind 12 year old kids dream up while playing the PS3.
But the Lakers were not to be outdone. They followed by stealing (and yes, that read stealing) Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies for a rookie and the rights to Kwame Brown’s still warm body. Kobe Bryant had just been paired with Andrew Bynum (aka Baby Shaq) and now the formidable Pau Gasol.
Could the rivalry get any better?
Just in case you were living in a cave the last few decades, Celtics-Lakers rivalries go back to 1958-59. Nine times before last year, these teams met in the NBA Finals, resulting in a dominating seven titles for the Celtics.
Last year was a continuation in the greatest battle in NBA history. The storied rivalry met again upon the grandest stage of basketball known to man.
To grasp the true reality of the situation, we must look at the drama surrounding the teams coming into the season. The Celtics had many a new face to learn, and soundly unified themselves through the mantra, “Ubuntu.” They spent all season long learning to play nice, and dominated on their way to a 66-16 record.
The Lakers, on the other hand, spent training camp prepared to lose Kobe Bryant, who made tidal waves by demanding a trade. Finally overcoming the trade rumors and beginning to play ball, they lost the immensely-improving Bynum for the rest of the year.
In EA’s world, Gasol would have filled admirably into Bynum’s shoes—but in real life, teams need time to gel, especially in an offense as incredibly difficult to learn as the triangle. They finished with a 57-25 record.
Then came the Finals. The result was a sloppy, inconsistent effort by the reforming Lakers, and the Celtics took the O’Brien home after six games.
This season, after having time to work out the kinks, the Lakers seem to be on the war path. The Celtics have picked up where they left off on their trek towards greatness.
But one thing seems to stand out in this author’s mind—the Lakers are built for the long haul, two deep in every position, meant to slam each opponent through the first 82 games. Meanwhile, the Celtics have found success by coasting through the mediocrity of the NBA, and then dominating in the postseason.
So, having that in mind, and after having sifted through all the statistics, this author has an early present for all the Lakers fans out there: Christmas afternoon will find a victorious LA team making a statement in a preview of the 2009 NBA Finals. The only way the Celtics can win this match-up is in EA's world.