A true spectacle
Last week, my esteemed colleague Greg Rossino wrote a column talking about his love for the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, calling the hockey finals the “greatest championship in modern day sports.”
However, not only are the Stanley Cup Playoffs surpassed by the NCAA Basketball Tournament for that distinction, but the battle for Lord Stanley’s Cup can’t even match up to other professional championship events.
Like, for example, the NBA Finals, which begin tonight in Los Angeles.
Storylines abound in this year’s finals, which pit the last two NBA Champions, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers against each other.
For the Celtics, this week presents them with an opportunity to cap off an almost unbelievable playoff run.
The Celts took out the Eastern Conference’s top two seeds on their way to the finals, sending Dwight Howard back home to Disney World, and maybe even sending Lebron James out of Cleveland and into either the Big Apple or Michael Jordan’s shadow, also known as Chicago.
The real story for the Celtics, however, has been the play of Rajon Rondo.
Rondo has been brilliant in these playoffs, outplaying every point guard he has faced, placing him firmly in the debate of best point guard on the planet today.
For the Lakers, this year is all about revenge.
The Celtics pounded the Lakers two years ago en route to winning the 2008 NBA title, and the Lakers have not forgotten it.
The Lakers can also have an impact on their legacy, both as individuals and as a franchise.
Phil Jackson is seeking his 11th NBA title as a coach and 13th in all, a number that would trail only Red Auerbach’s 16 career titles.
Also, the Lakers franchise is eeking its 16th NBA title, a number that would trail the mark of 17 for the most titles in NBA history.
That mark, of course, is held by the Boston Celtics.
However, perhaps most interestingly, Laker superstar Kobe Bryant has a chance to cement his legacy as one of the game’s all-time greats.
Bryant’s numbers speak for themselves, but another title would give Bryant five for his career, just one short of Michael Jordan’s six championships.
If Bryant wants to be put in the debate for the greatest player of all time, he needs to come up big against the Celtics.
No matter how you choose to look at it, these are the two most historic franchises in basketball history clashing one more time in one of sports’ enduring rivalries.
I know I’ll be watching, but I guess it’s only because my television doesn’t get Versus.
Nick Duke a sports writer for The Messenger, and he can be reached at nick.duke@Troymessenger.com or on Twitter at Messenger_nick.