LOS ANGELES -- Welcome to Staples Center, where the Boston Celtics will take on the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 7 of the NBA Finals at 9 p.m. (ABC). The best-of-seven series is tied, 3-3.
NBA staff members just brought both the Larry O'Brien and Finals MVP trophies into the media workroom for photographers to get snapshots of. No matter the outcome of the game, these trophies will be handed out tonight. After a 104-game season, this one game will decide who takes the trophies home. When you think about it in those terms it's almost unfair, but it helps you understand the desperation both teams will play with.
There's an unbelievable energy surrounding a game like this. Players are going through their usual pregame routines out on the court, but this game is anything but routine. No matter how many times you say it's just another game, it isn't. Ron Artest's legs visibly shook as he took jump shot after jump shot a few minutes ago, his fast-twitch fibers an outward representation of what every player must be feeling inside.
There's a nervous calm inside the arena, a drastic contrast to the mayhem outside. To say that Lakers fans are charged up for this one is starkly underplaying it. A couple of brave Celtics fans walking around across the street could barely walk more than a couple of paces without getting an earful from a Lakers loyalist.
That nervous energy inside and boisterous enthusiasm outside the arena will collide in a couple of hours. By the way, if you'd like to get inside and don't have a ticket, a single courtside seat for tonight's game could cost you up to $81,083.00. For the thrifty, $619 will get you a seat up in the rafters. A local radio station called tonight's game the toughest ticket for any sporting event. Ever.
Let's hope it lives up to the hype.