If you're a twenty-something basketball fan like myself, chances are you have a vague memory or don't remember the battles of the 1980's between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, let alone the 1960's. No right around when I started following the NBA the Celtics and Lakers were just miserable.
Robert Parish and James Worthy were on their last legs and winding down brilliant careers. Instead it was Magic the coach being about as successful as Magic the TV host (by the way where have you gone Tommy Davidson?) Dee Brown vs. Nick Van Exel didn't exactly engender any thoughts of Hondo vs. West. And chants of "Beat L.A." were mostly limited to hopes of finishing ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers when it came time for the NBA Draft Lottery and the ping pong balls.
Those were some dark days indeed. While the Lakers made it back with their 3-Peat, including an additional finals apperance, the Celtics though almost coming within two wins of facing the Lakers again in 2002, mostly wallowed in tragedy (Len Bias, Reggie Lewis) bad luck (Tim Duncan) and cheap stupid owners (trading Chauncey Billups and Joe Johnson). However, now that's all over and both teams are back at the top, just like they should be.
Both teams have some striking similarities: Both coaches formerly played for the New York Knickerbockers, both Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce either wanted out of their respective cities or were almost traded away and both Kevin Garnett and Pau Gasol have helped in shifting the burden from the other stars (Bryant, Pierce, Odom and Allen) and have raised each respective team from a middle of the pack squad to an elite contender.
I don't know that it will be as heated as in the past but for one thing it should be fun. I mean really when's the last time in any sport recently that we got a chance to see two classic throwback rivals play for a title? Perhaps one would have to go back to Super Bowl XXX between the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers or back in the 1977, 1978 and 1981 season's when the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers squared off for the first time since 1963, after meeting all of those years between 1941 and 1956, where generations had heard but still had not come to see live.
This will be a lot more historic than just a typical NBA Final. This one is for Cousy, Russell, Hondo, Bird, McHale, Parish, Kareem, West, Baylor, Wilt, Magic and Worthy. You want this one because you don't want to lose to "them," no matter what side you're on. And more importantly you're not playing just for who is the best team this year in this league in this final matchup, you're playing for who is ultimately the best franchise. Enjoy!