Kobe Powers Lakers into NBA Finals and Shot at Redemption

I’m sure that all Laker fans can attest to this: WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR BOSTON EVER SINCE GAME 6, 39 POINTS.

Had Kevin Garnett not gone down with his right knee injury last year, perhaps our shot would have come sooner.  But as Kobe said in his post-game interview, “Championships are championships,” and the title won against the Orlando Magic last year counts just as much any other.

I’m sorry Mamba, but we all know you’re just being diplomatic about this because you have to.

While I’m sure his fourth ring meant so much to him in so many other ways, with the most obvious being the fact that the Shaq-talk has since ceased, there is no way that a second shot against the Lakers’ arch nemesis, the “mighty” Boston Celtics, is just another NBA Finals to anyone who has purple and gold flowing through their veins – Kobe included.

All Laker fans have been begging the basketball gods for a rematch championship round against the team that undeniably embarrassed us two years ago.  A loss in the NBA Finals is painful enough as is, but to lose a title to the C’s?  That wound can only be patched by returning the favor – no substitute.

The 3-1 regular season record (the one loss coming with Kobe out) against the Celtics since the 08′ Finals has quenched our thirst for Gang Green blood, but only as much as a sip of your friend’s ice-cold beverage on a scorching-hot day.  We all want a celebratory sub-zero Gatorade bath, Mango and Grape flavors please.

I can’t begin to describe the anticipation and excitement that I feel when I think of the Artest vs. Pierce matchup.  As we observed in the Lakers’ one-point win in Boston this season, Ron definitely has an intimidating presence against the most hated player in Lakers Nation.  Artest not only got into Pierce’s head, but he did it early and he used it to his advantage throughout the game, both offensively and defensively.

Debate regarding Andrew Bynum’s health and effectiveness will hit a crescendo in the Boston series as he was the only player missing from the 2008 Finals for the Lakers.  To the chagrin of Phil Jackson, Drew even said during the week, with the Suns series far from complete, “We want to get Boston because we lost to them and we want to get that one back.”

Again, I really commend Bynum for gutting it out and playing through pain while having to hear many fans even approving a sign-and-trade deal already for Chris Bosh.  Give the guy some credit, he’s been providing us with very strong minutes and we will need every bit of him, torn meniscus and all, to have any chance at exacting revenge against the Celtics.

As Derek Fisher discussed on TNT’s Inside the NBA following Game 6, a loss in the Finals is never forgotten, but a loss to the Celtics in the title round holds its own special place – and it’s not a warm merry place, you can count on that.  As with last year, the Lakers looked very subdued during the Western Conference championship trophy presentation, during which Laker legend Michael Cooper said, “Boston you want us, here we come.”

Every former Lakers player who has gone toe to toe with the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals, star players especially, do not ever relent from their hatred for their lifetime rivals from the East.  Byron Scott, an analyst for ESPN, even admitted on Sportscenter the other night, how difficult it was for him to commend the C’s on closing out the Magic in their Game 6, while also revealing that he still owns nothing that is green.

If we as fans hate them so much, I can’t even imagine how much animosity Lakers players must harbor deep in their hearts.

Well, the moment that we have all been praying for, calling for, chanting for, is now upon us.  For the 12th time, the Lakers and Celtics will strap on the gloves and go to war for the NBA championship.  I usually refrain from using the war analogy as it pertains to sports, but with this matchup, there’s really no other way to describe it.

As one of my favorite writers, J.A. Adande wrote last night, a title against Boston is the final agenda item Kobe needs to cement his legacy beyond Magic Johnson’s at the pinnacle of Lakers lore.  As ridiculous as it may sound, being that he plays for the franchise that Magic made elite, it’s pretty much true.

But is it even possible for the Mamba to suprass his level of greatness?  We will see in four days.

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