Thursday, June 5, 2008

The 2008 NBA Finals: Rekindling the Rivalry

The Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers are set to meet again in the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals. The last time that the two team faced-off for the finals was in 1987, when the Lakers won the title. Boston led by Paul Pierce will slug it out with Lakers after a strong season and a dismal post season. On the other hand, reigning MVP, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers have reached the playoffs because of a vastly improved line-up following the acquisition of Pau Gasol. With a total 10 final encounters with the Celtics winning the first eight and the Lakers the final two, the title and bragging rights are at stake in this year’s NBA Finals. Considering that Laker coach Phil Jackson may also surpass Celtic legendary coach Red Auerbach’s record of nine titles with a series win over the Celtics.

The 2008 NBA finals will feature an old rivalry with new players. The Pierce—Bryant face off will be the highlight an event that was vacated by several NBA greats. The past Celtics—Lakers rivalry featured player rivalries which included the likes of Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Bill Russel, and Wilt Chamberlain. For many, this is the NBA tradition that was missed for such a long time. The passing of memories from one generation to another.

This rivalry may not have been possible if it were not for the off-season moves by the Boston Celtics and the mid-season trade that was executed by the Lakers management. Boston—coming from a 24-win season became a heavy favorite to win the title at the start of the season by acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen from different transactions. The Lakers, on the other hand, were playoff favorites but became championship contenders by acquiring the services of Gasol, a great passer despite his 7-foot frame. Take note that Phil Jackson’s “Triangle Offense” needed a center that could pass the ball.

The 2008 will feature teams with high-caliber players with top-notch management. It is the first time since 2004 that the top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference will face the top-seeded team from the Western Conference. The Celtics—Lakers rivalry is back this year. As the tradition continues, an old team with new faces will take the limelight. This year’s finals will not feature dominant big men like Shaquille O’Neal or Tim Duncan. In addition, it will be Bryant’s first finals appearance without O’Neal. For Boston, it will be Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen’s first finals appearance. During the 2007-2008 season, the Celtics beat the Lakers during both their meetings. However, the losses happened before the Lakers acquired Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies.

The NBA finals are set to start in a few days and a lot of questions are up in the air. Will show time be back in L.A. or will the Celtic pride be rekindled? Will Phil Jackson surpass Boston Celtics legendary coach Red Auerbach’s nine titles? These and others will be answered after the 2008 NBA finals.

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