I almost felt like the clock was going to turn back a little there. I fell in love with the game as a kid, back when Boston simply couldn’t be beaten in a game 7. And it seemed like that leprechaun touch would last forever at the time. But now the Lakers have nearly won as many titles, the old parquet floor got torn up along the way, and Red is as much ash as all those victory cigars turned out to be.
For a moment there I thought it was going to happen like it did long ago. I thought this group of Celtics was going to make me feel much more nostalgic then the championship group from a couple years back did. I was in the midst of fondly remembering the rotary dial phone, the typewriter, and the wooden tennis racquet. The Celtics were up by 13 and bringing it on home. Fisher was back in the dressing room. Kobe was sucking horribly. The refs were not all that noticeable. And best of all - the game could be reduced to how the effect of the old-school guys, namely Sheed and Artest played out.
Both of those guys responded well to the pressure of one of the few exciting things to happen in the playoffs this year - a game 7 to put an end to all the blowouts, horrendous calls, and Lebron chatter superceding everything else. They both carried their weight through three quarters, on both ends of the court. Which one of them was going to lose it first? Unfortunately, at just around the time that Fisher returned, Wallace started to foul. He’s always been prone to celebrating too early, letting up a little mentally, and then getting his team off track. And he did it again. The tide turned at the point where he whacked Kobe (who was sucking remember) unnecessarily just as Ray was knocking the ball loose, and cleanly. The Lakers kept on getting to the line through that final quarter, and that edge combined with the rebounding edge just couldn’t be overcome.
Or could it? The ghosts of the past appeared in the final minutes. Crazy shots were starting to go down. Boston was somehow hanging in there, even with Artest hitting what should have been the final nail in the coffin, from beyond the arc, and then blowing a kiss to his psychiatrist (of course he was able to find a good shrink in LA - and there you have your title all wrapped up as a result). Still - with the Lakers up by 2, and the shot clock off, Rondo was able to knock the ball loose from Kobe. Dennis Johnson had to be heading to the basket! But the ball grazed the sideline. Laker ball…
…and I am NOT a teenager.
All the breaks seem to go the way of the Lakers these days. Pau not only doesn’t get the call for coming back down before releasing his jumper, but the ball just barely rolled over the rim. Take that basket away and things might have turned out differently. Maybe the Celtics summon up one last punch at the end. Of course that’s just wishful thinking, and that’s where those of us that want anyone to just beat LA are for now. But it won’t last forever, just like Phil’s hairline, Lamar’s marriage, and Artest’s music career. Soon enough, the young punks wearing their Kobe jerseys will become old fossils themselves, and wish anyone could ever be bothered to chant “beat LA” ever again. I just hope it happens before the rest of us are bored to death.