By Dennis J. Freeman
One game. Two storied franchises. Four future Hall of Fame players. Two elite coaches playing chess for 48 minutes. Beantown versus Showtime. The green cloak of the Irish pitted against the flash and dash of Hollywood. The Boston Celtics matched up against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 7. This is what the 2010 NBA Finals have come down to.
Commission David Stern and the NBA could not have hoped to see a better finish to a season which had Cleveland Cavaliers’ star LeBron James win his second straight regular MVP award and saw the emergence of young stars such as Oklahoma City Thunder player Kevin Durant.
With that being said, the two best teams in the league once again, are the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. The bitter rivals have collected more NBA championships than any teams in the league. Boston, which defeated the Los Angeles in the 2008 championship round, has 17 titles under its belt. The Lakers, after winning it all last season, has 15.
This is the 12th time the Celtics and Lakers have met up to play in a championship series. Members of both squads could either have their legacy elevated and cemented as all-time greats or come face-to-face with a dash of invisibility of a second-place finisher.
Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson has won 10 championships, four with the Purple and Gold. This is his first Game 7 in an NBA Finals appearance.
“It’s really a high-tension situation,” said Jackson after the Lakers handed the Celtics an 89-67 loss in Game 6. “Players have come down to putting a lot on the line at this particular point. A lot of times it’s not about coaching at that point. They’ve already got it in them. It’s about who comes out and provides the energy on the floor and plays the kind of game and dictates the kind of game they want to dictate.”
For Boston’s Big Three-Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Inglewood native Paul Pierce-winning a second NBA title in three years would go a long way in positioning them among the all-time greats in Celtics lore. For those three individuals, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime. It’s also may be their last shot at winning the championship again, particularly at the stages of their career. After the Game 6 defeat, Allen, arguably the greatest jump shooter during this generation of ballers, spoke about the urgency to seizing the moment now for his group.
“I was talking with someone in the locker room just now, and I don’t think there’s been any Game 7s this year in the NBA playoffs, period. So this is definitely a special treat just for the NBA, knowing that we’re going to Game 7, and this is The Finals, and it’s the Celtics and Lakers. As a team, you’ve got guys — we’ve got some ballers on our team, guys that are ready to play.
“You can’t shake a lot of the guys’ characters here on this team. We’re a group of trash-talking guys. We compete at everything we do. Everybody believes they can make the shot or stop the guy from scoring. When it comes to Game 7, it’s like this is what we were born to do. It’s like if we were born, our mothers said we would be in Game 7 of the NBA Finals some day and nobody would blink an eye because we would say that’s where we’re supposed to be. So we’re looking forward to it.”
So is Kobe Bryant. Bryant, already considered to be one of the league’s all-time great players, wants to add another chapter to his legacy by defeating the Celtics in the Finals.
“It’s a game we’ve got to win, simple as that,” Bryant said. “I’m not going crazy over it. We’ve got to take care of business.”