It’s finally here.
Something my dad has been telling me about for years. The list of NBA greats who took part in this epic battle spans generations: West, Russell, Chamberlain, Cousy, Baylor, Havlicek, Jabbar, McHale, Worthy, Bird, and of course, Magic.
Kobe Bryant won’t admit it, but this means more than facing the Orlando Magic or the Cleveland Cavaliers. He’s a student of the game who doesn’t need anyone to explain the historical ramifications of beating the Boston Celtics.
But since we’re all here, why don’t we touch on a few reasons why it’s so important?
It starts with the number 2, which represents how many championships the Lakers trail the Celtics for the right to be called the Greatest Franchise in NBA History. You think Kobe wants to go down as leading the second best team the league has ever seen? Me neither.
Then there’s the “The Club”. Michael Cooper talked about this before the series began, but apparently there is an exclusive club that only the ’85 and ’87 Lakers belong to. I’m sure there’s a hand shake, secret meetings and super-weird-masquerade-sex-parties like in Eyes Wide Shut. You think Kobe wants to sneak into those creepy galas like Tom Cruise? Of course not, he wants to waltz in through the front door.
Above all, there is pride. Kobe Bryant and his Lakers teammates do not want history to remember the 2009 NBA Finals as “The Year KG Hurt His Knee”. I know this hurts Lakers fans, but if the Lakers lose tonight’s game then that will happen. Kobe’s 4th title will be cheapened by the ridiculous notion that his Lakers only got to the top because the one team capable of knocking them off was not at 100%. I don’t know about you, but the thought of Bill Simmons and his clan of leprechauns holding that over our heads for the next 15 years is not something I can stomach.
And neither can Kobe Bryant. He wants history to note that in 2008 Pau Gasol had yet to play 50 games in the purple and gold, a mulligan of sorts. Hey, mulligans happen in the NBA, just ask Mike Jordan and the 1995 Chicago Bulls (Nick Anderson, who?).
If the Lakers win, they are the back-to-back Champs with a shot at two 3-Peats (©Riley, Patrick) in a decade. So while a surly Kobe Bryant sits at the podium with his lips pursed, remember that nobody in that room cares more about history and legacy than that man. He knows what’s on the line. He’ll be ready.
But for the Lakers to win, they need to be more than Kobe Bryant. They need to be equal parts Pau Gasol, with a dash of Ron Artest and a heavy helping of Lamar Odom. They need Andrew Bynum crashing and Shannon Brown flying. It wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing to see DJ Mbenga get a bucket or two.
One thing is for sure. Game 7 in Staples Center will bring us a Hollywood ending. And for that ending to truly be a Pursuit of Happiness, the Los Angeles Lakers are going to have to embody the spirits of some of the most famous characters in movie history.
If each member of the Lakers lives up to their movie character counterpart, we can schedule a parade for Saturday morning down Figueroa.
Without further ado, I bring to you Hollywood’s finest and their purple and gold understudies.
Next: Phil in the Blank