The Boston Massacre Redux: Doc's Redrum
Hold up, that bears repeating. The Celts were pushed to the BRINK by the Atlanta Hawks and the then defending Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers. They snapped out of it in time to punch the Pistons out in 6 and look like the NBA's best team in the process. Last night was the punctuation mark to a year that well, I guess was scripted to end like this from the word 'go'. If you believe that the West still is best as most do, consider this. If it weren't for the Pistons letting Cleveland off the hook, the last three NBA Champions probably would've come from the East. As it stands, three of the last five champions have come out of the Eastern Conference. Detroit, Miami and now back by popular demand...your Boston Celtics. So in the end, this series proved what has been known all along. That defense does indeed win championships. That no matter what rules are changed to speed the game up or help teams get by, that at this point in the year, if you don't defend...you don't win. Apparently, Boston can play damn great defense. Just ask Kobe who said not but one round earlier, he could get off when he wanted to. Uhm, Kobes, last night would've been a really great time to do that. Or any of the previous four games your boys got dropped in. The fact is, Kobe was proven mortal after all. As Ah-nold said in Predator and the C's proved this during the series...if it bleeds, we can kill it. Once Boston saw that Kobe does bleed, they killed him. They smothered him in a way that I'm sure Pops has taped and will be studying ad nauseum heading into next year. Oh and that supporting cast that helped Kobe win MVP...non-existent. In this series, people were reminded why Pau up until this year, had never escaped the first round on his own accord. People were reminded why Lamar Odom might be the biggest underachiever on the left coast and maybe for all time. But the father of all ironic twists here? It's Red Auerbach's team that keeps Phil from passing him for his 10th ring.
So now, the year ends with more questions than what was initially thought to be asked before we hit this point. The Lakers are now suspect on more levels than initially anticipated. Throughout most of this series, we learned that when stifled as Kobe was, his supporting cast can't get it done when it counts. Will Kobe get the help needed to finally get back to the mountaintop? Can Chief Triangle handle another postseason like this? (Seriously Phil, I get that Jeannie must be a great piece of tail, but was coming back really worth having DOC RIVERS make you look mentally inept in this series? I thought your coaching staff was supposed to be the best in the business?) In a seriously odd way of looking at this, this mirrored the Super Bowl (one team that's a near lock to win, beaten by the team that wanted it more) more than most will want to admit. So now, most of the diehard basketball fans will be locked in for two things in the following week. First, the 12 to 14 men who will attempt to get our world Mojo back in Beijing this Summer (how is it that Coach K who hasn't seen a national title in damn near a decade got this gig over Pops?) and second, the NBA Draft. Oh and to all of you rooks on your way in, moreso guards and swingmen. If someone in the media or even one of your boys tells you you're "like Mike" or the "next Jordan", do this...
Break their jaw. Seriously. Do whatever you gotta do to block it out, ignore it, just don't buy into it. Every last NBA talent that has been hit with that backhanded of backhanded compliments has not been the same since. The Jordan Curse is real people, it exists and it's killing careers the way the Black Plague did way back the days of yore. No more "Lakers/Celts Rivalry" crap, because it DOES NOT EXIST. The Celts have owned the Lakers lifetime, they certainly owned them in this series. So now what? If the Celts can avoid a ton of losses that beset most championship teams and they come back intact, I know it's early and premature...but why can't they repeat? Okay, so the Lakers were missing Bynum. Even IF they had Bynum in the middle, they weren't about to get past the softer than Charmin play by No-dom and Pau Midol as well as Kobe's sudden inability to get er' dun when it counted. Fact is, right now looking at the East, there's nobody I can look at and see dethroning these guys. If the Cavs kept their team intact from a year ago, yes, I'd have said they stood a helluva chance. But as I'll divulge further in my Season Wrap piece, their gambit failed miserably and may end up sinking this franchise once and for all. The Pistons are on the brink of seeing the door slam shut for a while. If they were on the Left Coast, it'd have already been nailed and boarded up by now. Beyond those two teams, the conference is filled with a bunch of maybes and hopefullys. For now though, I'm gonna chill and wait until the Draft concludes next week before putting the finishing touches on this season as a whole. Who knew that I'd watch more playoff basketball this postseason with the Nets sitting at home than I did when they were in it to begin with? Oh and for the record, if Team USA fails to win gold this summer, I'm done with basketball. Seriously. Finished. Like this column. :P