Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Beat LA... One More Time

It was only about three weeks ago when all seemed lost for the two biggest franchises in the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics.

Rajon Rondo had torn his ACL while his team was in the midst of a six game losing streak and barely holding on to the eighth seed. And LA was playing without Dwight Howard and were not even in the playoff picture, as they were clinging to the 13th seed in the West.

Now, 24 days later, the two teams have lost more key players as they try to make a push into the playoffs. In the last ten games, Boston finished 8-2, and LA finished 6-4 (including a beat down in Boston just 12 days ago).

The Celtics are currently the seventh seed, and the Lakers are still three and a half games out of the playoff picture in the tenth seed.

As the two teams are mere hours away from taking battle once again at Staple Center, I find myself asking: Will we ever see these two rivals add another chapter to the NBA Finals?

Don't get me wrong, I love seeing a thrashing of the Lakers as we saw at TD Garden earlier this month, but while they are missing a healthy Gasol, and Rajon was unable to lead his troops, we didn't see a more balanced fight like we have other than the past six season, including two Finals appearances.

The Celtics were up by as much as 32 points, and Pierce and KG sat out the fourth quarter, and enjoyed a Gino rendition on the big screen, the final score was 116-95. Mind you that was only the second win versus LA since Christmas of 2010.

As the two teams prepare to take center stage for the 25th time in six years, you have to think, 'Wow we have witnessed some amazing moments in NBA history.' The biggest rivalry in sports was renewed, some future hall of famers added some hardware to their ongoing legacies, and most importantly the fiercest of competitors that I've ever seen went to war with each other. As the core players of this current rivalry are quickly becoming a dying breed in today's game, I look back and realize we have to appreciate the few moments left between these two clubs.

After Larry Bird and Magic Johnson retired, I don't think many thought they would see the type of battles we have come to love and expect here in the 21st century between Beantown and Hollywood. There were some memorable games like game six of the 2008 Finals here in Boston where the Lakers suffered the worse lost in NBA Finals history as they watched the Celtics clinched the title after a 22-year drought in a 131-92 beating. Kobe Bryant went 7-for-22 shooting.
"One of the lowest moments in my career..." admitted Kobe. 
But there were also games we wish we could forget like game six of the 2010 Finals in LA. While the Celtics were up 3-2, after winning all their games at home and were one game away from their second title in three season, they lost Kendrick Perkins late in the first quarter. Boston couldn't rebound in all sense of the word while Kobe and co. put a first class whipping on the Celtics, giving them one of its worst loses in team history and forced a game seven. We all remember what happened after that? I know they wish they could have gotten that one back.

Those games are just two examples of how great this run has been between these two teams. The Lakers and Celtics are not 100 percent healthy in this year's games. When Kobe was asked about the Celtics and Rondo's situation, he had this to say:
"I'm not happy about what's happening to them," Bryant said. "We are all running out of time. So I understand. I love everything about him [Rondo]. Everything. I love his attitude, I love his chippiness, his edge, his intellect, his know-it-allness. All of it. That's what makes championship players... I love that kid. I always make a point to talk to him during All-Star weekend. He's one of my favorites"
Those were awesome words from one of the all-time greats regarding one of his rivals. I think even Kobe wouldn't mind seeing Boston in another Finals, to not only see the franchise compete for its 18th championship but to be there as well, to compete for his sixth championship and tie MJ. That would be the perfect ending to an extraordinary career. And Paul Pierce would love to spoil that with adding another ring to his Celtic legacy.

After Boston and Los Angeles made some key off-season acquisitions, I was excited. Not because of possibly seeing LeBron going up against Kobe like everyone else wants to see, but because I thought this would be the best chance for Pierce and Kobe to meet up in the Finals to settle this renewed rivalry once and for all. The way I see it, after 2008 and 2010, the series is tied, 1-1. So again I ask, can these two franchises be the last two standing one more time and battle for the coveted prize before it's all said and done?

You know that this is what fuels the likes of KG, Pierce and Kobe Bryant. These three are still playing at a very high level and they wouldn't be if they didn't think they could still win. But they know after playing 15 plus years that the key to longevity in this league is knowing that you are on borrowed time.

The camaraderie of today's NBA players is down right atrocious when you actually let the notion sink in that you might never see a rivalry like this current one again. When you hear LeBron is working out with Durant during the summer time and sharing shooting exercises with each other, it makes you wonder what ever happened to everyone that is not on your team being the enemy? That is lost in today's generation and it is only going to get worse. Teams like Miami are what I like to call "living in the moment" franchises. Lets see how many are still "fans" of the club after next season when the luxury tax becomes an issue.

As for the two most storied franchises in the league, they still have players with the old school mentality of win a championship as a team or you've failed.
"When you think about it, there aren't many organizations that look at it that way," Bryant said. "There are only two that can really honestly say that's what they live by: Los Angeles and Boson"
You're right Kobe, love him or hate him you have to give him respect. Especially, if you have enjoyed watching Boston vs LA. As for if these two will ever meet again, with the Larry O'Brien trophy at stake? Only time will tell...

Until then, lets enjoy the ride one more time tonight in LA, or however long you think it will last. I know I will.

Lets go Celtics!


Joel Pavon

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