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Blog Wars, part deux

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff  June 3, 2008 07:57 PM

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In our second installment of the blog war between the Globe and the LA Times, Brian Kamenetzky and I debate today's topic:

Topic No. 2: Who should America be rooting for in the NBA Finals?

Gary Dzen, Boston Globe:

It's inevitable.

In the leadup every sport's championship, bandwagon fans come out of the woodwork to swear their allegiance to one side or the other. During the Super Bowl, it was everybody against the Patriots (the Super Bowl is the NFL's championship game, in case someone is reading this from Los Angeles). During the last World Series, people attached themselves to those loveable, huggable Red Sox.

And so it goes.

Putting our prognosticating glasses on, it's easy to see how the Celtics would win over a nation of wannabe basketball fans during the NBA Finals.

Start with KG, whose intensity has earned him a cult following. It's impossible not to like Kevin Garnett if he's playing for your team. KG will draw people in, no doubt.

Besides Garnett, the Celtics have plenty of other guys who fans will want to root for. Ray Allen is a smooth-talking, smooth-shooting class act. Paul Pierce has never abandoned his home team and has never asked for a trade.

Rajon Rondo tries like heck on every play. Leon Powe and Glen Davis bring lunch pails into the paint. Eddie House alternates between nailing three-pointers and standing on the bench to cheer for his teammates on every possession.

There's also this little issue of what would be good for the NBA. The league needs the Celtics to be good. Boston has revitalized professional basketball on the East Coast this season, and lord knows the Knicks and Sixers aren't going to be of any help for a while. When the Celtics are good, the NBA is marketable to an entire region of the country.

And then there's this: Kobe can market the Lakers by himself. The league's most popular player doesn't need rings for people to watch him. But if he loses, it's just another reason for the country to cheer. People love seeing an MVP, but there's nothing people love more than seeing an MVP fail.

Brian Kamenetzky, LA Times:

Despite making my living on the Internet, I’m not a big believer in conspiracy theories.

Yes, these playoffs have seen some controversies favoring the Lakers and Celtics. No punishment for KG after his shove-in with Eddie Rush in the Atlanta series. (A good call by the NBA. Just because they freaked out during the Phoenix-San Antonio series doesn’t mean they have to compound the error by sticking to precedent.) No call on Brent Barry at the end of Game 4. (A bad call, but the refs botched the previous play and besides, at that point in a game players have to maul each other like hungry pumas to force a whistle. Had the famous McHale clothesline of Kurt Rambis happened in the last six seconds of the fourth, it probably wouldn’t have been called.) Whatever. The two best teams in the NBA made it to the Finals, as it should be.

Obviously, Bostonians are pulling for the green, while LA is all purple and gold. But the rest of America has a choice to make. Who should they want to see hoist the Larry O’Brien?

The answer, and I’m not just saying this to keep my apartment from getting egged, is the Lakers. Here are a few reasons why:

  • A title for KG is a nice story, but would have nothing on the dramatic arc of Kobe and the Lakers winning it all this year. A year ago, the Lakers were in shambles. Their star player wanted out, the owner’s son was questioning the coach while the owner was getting pulled over for DUI while a 23 year old woman rode shotgun. Andrew Bynum is shredded by said star in an Orange County parking lot, blows up on the NBA before blowing up his knee. A promising season is in doubt until Mitch Kupchak steals Pau Gasol from Memphis. Now they’re four games from an NBA title. You could make a movie out of this stuff, and this being LA, someone probably will.

  • Death, taxes, and no rain on parade day in LA. Those are the only guarantees in life.

  • What’s good for Jack Nicholson is good for America.

  • Derek Fisher. You should be ashamed of yourself for ever rooting against a team for which he plays. Don’t like him? Try Ronny Turiaf, a player so enthusiastic and exuberant that fans decided they’d rather watch him cheer from the bench via Yellowbook Cam than any of the dudes on the court during the Western Conference Finals. Finally, there’s Lamar Odom, who has seen more tragedy and death in his family than anyone should, wears his heart on his sleeve, and is as solid a guy as you’ll find in the Association.

  • The ninth place team in the Western Conference won 48 games. The Lakers have defeated 50, 54, and 56 win teams just to make it this far. They finished atop the most brutal conference in recent memory. The Celtics could have lost every game they played after the All-Star break and still made the playoffs, then beat one good team to make the Finals. Justice demands the Lakers win in the end.

    Have an opinion on this? Sound off in our comments forum.

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