Barring a collapse of Biblical proportions and/or the arrival of officials who aren’t beholden to their league’s agenda, we have another Celtics-Lakers NBA Finals to kick around.
All the disingenuous hype reminds me of those faux-Woodstock festivals some promoter without a profit motive puts on every fifth year to “honor” the anniversary and spirit of the original.
That is, if you truly believe there’s any comparison, you weren’t around to see the genuine article. Or at least you weren’t paying attention.
Ninety-five percent of the toys and distractions in our lives have improved since 1984. Unless you live on a dirt road in a disorganized township, you probably aren’t using rabbit ears or a phone that’s connected to the wall. You might even own a home computer that isn’t the size of a trailer park. It’s a beautiful world.
Basketball falls with the American presidency, popular music and customer service into the five-percent, ain’t-what-it-used-to-be category.
Next time I hear someone draw any parallel between the Real Big Three of Larry Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale and the 2010 facsimile of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, I’m going to throw something at the TV.
Somebody tries to mention Kobe Bryant within a five-minute radius of Magic Johnson, and I’m just going to throw up.
Rajon Rondo? Nice, young player in a watered-down era. Plays with a work ethic and passion that are sorely lacking among most of his contemporaries. None of which make him worthy to carry the late Dennis Johnson’s short-shorts.
Of course this is one of those pointless, hypothetical arguments that keep talk radio in business for six hours. And there’s really nothing to be gained from the time it would take to construct a thoughtful defense, because being on the other side is a sign that someone is incapable of rational, objective thought.
Basketball of the Bird-Magic era was a team game showcasing guys who could shoot and had the chops to play man-to-man defense. The impostor activity is a fundamentally bankrupt dunk-fest at one end of the floor and a clutch-and-grab party at the other.
I hold these truths to be self-evident.
With the notable exception of the Lakers’ Phil Jackson, nobody in the league “coaches” any longer, in part because nobody listens.
In the limited minutes of the Eastern Conference finals I could stomach, the only thing more disturbing than the level of play was the occasional “wired” segment involving Boston and Orlando’s respective babysitters, Doc Rivers and Stan Van Gundy.
Those hoarse chalkboard sessions were riddled with “play as a team” and “work hard for 48 minutes” cliches that a biddy-ball parent would have been ashamed to use. I almost felt sorry for the old Marquette point guard and Ron Jeremy’s doppelganger. In another era, both guys probably could wow us with their X and O acumen and not their ability to channel Dr. Phil.
Let’s not let the Lakers off the hook, either. Their signature moment of these playoffs was a strong-side put-back by the league’s biggest head case after an air ball by the alleged best player on the planet.
Each team’s arrival at the summit is a testament to the second-most meaningless regular season in all of professional sports. (Sorry, puck heads: Your NHL still has a hammer lock on that title.)
Your Celtics treated January and February with all the urgency Bobby Brown and the Snapple Lady showed at the celebrity fat farm. As for the Lakers, way to mail in those last 22 games (they were 12-10, if you’re keeping score). The Indianapolis Colts couldn’t have done it any better.
Predictions? Other than pain, with apologies to Mr. T’s Clubber Lang in “Rocky III”:
* At least one Celtic will make headlines every off day due to a hyper-extended knee, a creaky back, a sprained thumb or chronic wasting disease. The real kick in the pants, considering Boston’s median age, is that it probably will be Rondo.
* Pau Gasol will strengthen his reputation as the softest, most overrated NBA “star” since Scottie Pippen.
* Jack Nicholson’s camera time will out-number Matt Damon’s at least two-to-one.
* Stuart Scott might make it through Game 1 without proposing marriage to Magic.
* C’s in six.
Do me a favor and tell me if I’m right. I’ll be somewhere watching the Red Sox.
Kalle Oakes is a staff columnist. His e-mail is [email protected]