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These aren’t the same old Celtics and Lakers
I’m sure by now that you have read all of the historical storylines, and you have obviously witnessed on television and heard on radio all of the subplots that make this highly anticipated series one worth watching.
This is the Lakers and Celtics, two franchises that do not require introduction to the most novice basketball fan. They are as traditional in the lore of Americana as Big Mac and fries.
I have my own vivid memories of the Celtics, which back in those days always fancied itself on having more white players than Black players. Back then the Celtics were like the Utah Jazz in ethnic make-up, and while many of their legendary stars such as Bill Russell, Jo Jo White, K.C. Jones and even Dennis Johnson were African American, the players that branded Celtic Pride were the John Havlicek’s, Kevin McHale’s and Larry Bird’s.
The NBA, ABC and ESPN would much rather you focus on the rich green jerseys of the Celtics and the yellow gold jerseys of the Lakers, but in a day and age where race is still a hot stove subject that few rarely want to dialog about, the color of the players on both the Lakers and Celtics is a clear role reversal from their glorious past.
The Celtics have a Black coach in Doc Rivers and start an All African American team, even their key role players are Black.
In contrast, the Lakers have three of five Blacks in its starting line up and their key role players are equally Black and white. Well actually they are euros, but you get the picture.
Having said all of that, these are the two best teams in the NBA this season and although the Celtics thumped the Lakers twice in the regular season, that was before they had obtained Pau Gasol.
They Lakers have the game’s most talented and brightest star in Kobe Bryant, who adamantly told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith that he does not wish to be compared with Michael Jordan.
Well Kobe, in my book you should not be compared with Jordan because I personally think that you are better, but Jordan will forever be the measuring stick for the greatest player to ever lace them up unless you do something with this team to change that.
The Celtics on the other hand employ the game’s most likeable star in Defensive Player of the Year Kevin Garnett who has never played in a NBA Final.
Ditto for former Inglewood High star “Do It All” Paul Pierce who grew up playing basketball with Golden State Warriors star guard Baron Davis. The Celtics are the only team that Pierce has ever played for during a tremendous 11-year campaign.
Garnett was traded last season from the hapless Minnesota Timberwolves to the Celtics by Celtic alum McHale.
He was close to being traded to the Lakers who did not want to give up Andrew Bynum to make the deal happen, and he would love nothing more than to prove that the Lakers made a drastic mistake.
On the other hand, this has been Kobe’s best season. Not only has he captured the most coveted MVP award for the first time, but more importantly he has proved that he trust his teammates and has thus made them better players something that critics claimed that he could not do.
No matter how you color this, it will be memorable and it will be hotly contested and anyone who thinks that there will be a sweep in this series is out of his or her sweeping minds. It is just what the Doc has ordered.