Ah, Lakers-Celtics. The matchup between the two dynastic franchises from Los Angeles and Boston, who will be squaring off in the NBA Finals for the 12th time, brings back so many memories.
Wilt Chamberlain posting up Bill Russell in ’69. Jerry West vs. John Havlicek. And of course, Magic vs. Larry, the rivalry that saved the NBA. So much history, so much drama, so much . . .
Please, NBA, spare us all the overblown nostalgia. For there’s only one way this year’s Lakers-Celtics series will live up to the hype: if it goes the distance. NBA fans are seriously starving for a Game 7. Only two NBA Finals have reached a seventh game over the last 16 years, and those series were anything but memorable. The 1994 grudge match between the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets was a harsh reminder that the NBA, after Michael Jordan’s first retirement, wasn’t pretty: the series was overshadowed by OJ, and is one of the most loathed finals matchups ever. In 2005, the San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons played a somewhat exciting seven-game tilt, but neither of those teams, prime culprits in the NBA ratings rut of the mid-2000s, will be beloved by hoops historians.
It’s time for some real drama, a do-or-die, drop your dinner and get-in-front of your TV event on June 17th, Game 7, Lakers-Celtics. Baseball’s failings are just adding to our itch – the last World Series Game 7 was eight years ago. Kobe Bryant can hit all the sick turnaround jump shots he wants, and Kevin Garnett can growl at Jack Nicholson for hours, but if this baby isn’t going the distance, wake me up in March . . . for the NCAA Tournament, when every game is one-and-done, where there are Game 7s all day long.