Posted by Sekou Smith
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – As we all know, the Celtics-Lakers rivalry goes back decades.
Their 12th NBA Finals matchup, which begins Thursday in Los Angeles, will no doubt add to the legacy of one of the most storied rivalries in all of sports.
But it’s No. 11 that is on my mind today.
My main man and FOHT Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports gives us a vivid reminder of the nasty way the 2008 Finals ended for the Lakers and the stains from that series the Lakers will carry into this year’s showdown.
Did you know about the Lakers’ humbling trip to the airport after being blown out in Game 6 of the 2008 Finals? I didn’t until I read this:
The Los Angeles’ title hopes had disappeared with one last embarrassing loss in the NBA Finals, leaving those on board the team’s bus to sit in stunned silence. As the bus started to leave the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston on that night two years ago, chaos quickly broke out around the Lakers. Boston Celtics fans had filled the streets to celebrate the franchise’s 17th championship, not far from a statue of longtime patriarch Red Auerbach smoking a victory cigar.
With traffic snarled and no police escort to take them to their hotel, the Lakers could do nothing but sit and stew. Before long, someone recognized Phil Jackson sitting in the front seat, and then the rocks began to fly. Revelers pelted the bus and shook it, mocking the Lakers at their lowest moment.
“It was painful,” Lakers forward Pau Gasol said. “It is a feeling that I want to keep in my mind for every single minute that I’m out there playing them.”
This series won’t need any artificial drama enhancers added.
This is the Celtics-Lakers we’re talking about. The league’s two flagship franchises squaring off for the title for the second time in three years is a ready-made storyline in itself.
When it’s done, either the Celtics or Lakers will have won a title for the 33rd time in 64 title championship series.
Kobe Bryant and his crew know what’s at stake. You know Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and the boys know what’s on the line.
It’s bigger than just this one series, this one title. It’s bigger than championship coaches like Jackson and Celtics boss Doc Rivers and All-Star players like Rajon Rondo and championship ring collectors like Derek Fisher.
It’s about etching your name and your team in the history books of not only these two franchises but the annals of the basketball.
There are already plenty of Hall of Famers that have put their signatures on the books in this rivalry.
We’ve gone from Russell and Cousy and West and Baylor to Jabbar and Magic and Bird and McHale.
Here we go again.