Thursday, June 5, 2008

Revisiting the Mythical Rivalry?

Cue the movie trailers deep voice: Over twenty years ago, a battle of the rivals was fought on a court where legends were defined. Now the battle continues on two storied rivals . . . Cut! You’ve seen the ton of commercials about today’s NBA Finals and many sports reporters are saying it will live up to the hype. But for this fan, it wont.

Yes I’m looking forward to the NBA Finals for the sheer reason to not be subjected to another Spurs brand of basketball. But I’m not drinking the Kool-aid that this championship series with the Celtics and the Lakers would live up to the glory of 20 years ago.

That was around the time I fell in love with the game of basketball while watching the Lakers’ charismatic Magic Johnson and the Celtics’ blue collar Larry Bird literally go at it on the court. Though they had a deep respect for each other, you felt they were enemies because of their famed competitive streak.

I could just imagine how those two must have left the sports writers of their day scratching their heads of who to call the series for. Is it Bird, with great support cast of Danny Ainge, Dennis Johnson or Robert Parrish? Or give the edge to Johnson with the magnificent Kareem Abdul Jabbar and James Worthy.

The 2008 NBA Finals doesn’t have such passionate rivalry. That is what I miss about this great sport. Where is the real rivalry of Bill Russell’s Celtics against Wilt Chamberlain’s Lakers, the aforementioned Bird and Magic, the Bad Boys Pistons against Michael Jordan’s Bulls, and the nineties Miami Heat against the New York Knicks? There is something missing.

Now some folks want to spin this upcoming series about Phil Jackson breaking the record against the late Red Auerbach. How does that last sentence sound, having a perceived rivalry with a dead guy? Give me a break. Also, I laugh when the TV talking heads want to drudge up a four-year-old story of a bad blood between Celtics Ray Allen and Lakers Kobe Bryant. Seriously, Ray Allen, a guy who had one break-out game in the first three rounds of playoffs having a rivalry against Kobe Bryant, arguably the best closer in the game today.

I don’t want to be a spoils sport about this year’s NBA Finals. I love the game even though I can’t help but look with nostalgia that just two years ago, my favorite team, the Miami Heat was taking this glorious stage. I’m glad these two storied franchises have risen up from the ashes in a year to being the best teams in the land. Their achievement should be applauded and it enhances the NBA product.

So I look forward to the games not for any hype about a rivalry between the Celtics and the Lakers but for seeing something new; they are not the Spurs.

Tag: NBA Finals