And unlike ridiculous pre-season predictions, looking at two teams two days before the best-of-seven 2010 NBA Finals begin is more realistic. So, it says here the Los Angeles Lakers will go back-to-back with a six or seven-game victory over the Boston Celtics.
The reason: too much Kobe Bryant. To me, it's that simple. However, if the Lakers slip, they easily can be defeated. It wouldn't shock to see Boston coach Doc Rivers and his staff throw some zone at the Lakers.
If L.A. doesn't handle it better, i.e. making perimeter shots, than it did against Phoenix, it's going to be trouble.
It's easy to appreciate the merits of the Celtics and Lakers.
As a New York City native, merely thinking about the appreciation of anything Boston means there has been major personal growth.
New Yorkers are inherently trained to hate Boston and its sports franchises. And that goes both ways.
As I write this today, alleged Boston native Joey Rust, harasses me via text and cell phone with his profane chant about the Yankees, Mets, Giants and Jets. Rust loves all things Boston and happened to be in my house during Game Three of the 2004 American League Championship Series.
Rust, in a nothing-to-lose prediction, said the Red Sox would come back from that 3-0 deficit to win four straight. They did, and Rust always will have that one to throw at myself and son, Phillip.
In fact, my son said Rust harassed him a few days ago on Facebook about New York sports teams. My son probably would use the word - random.
But it's like that. I understand. Phillip understands (well, maybe not the profanity). But hey, I'll be rooting for the Boston Bruins to win the Stanley Cup. Oops! And oh, yeah, Rust's daughters, Kiele and Gracei, correctly the Giants 2008 Super Bowl victory over the previously undefeated New England Patriots.
My dislike of Boston hardly was aided by seeing adults throwing rocks at black children during busing.
However, meeting two beautiful ladies, Evey and Lola, from Newton, Mass. (I believe) while at Hampton Institute (now University), opened my perspective.
Ditto for meeting my man, coach Willie Maye, the adjunct mayor of Beantown. Maye, originally from North Carolina, a Boston radio personality can be seen representing the Celtics wearing a Boston jersey.
I still love the guy. Hey, he was on the court with me in Portland in 1992 when I tore my Achilles tendon and took care of a brother. Maye could hail from Anchorage and he'd be special.
Nor did it help to see the Celtics wax the New York Knicks like the kitchen floor. The Celtics were so dominant during the early 60's that they were hated in Philadelphia and Baltimore/Washington D.C.
Ironically, black americans viewed the Celtics as white america's team. That's despite Bill Russell's status as modern times first black coach in pro team sports. That's despite the presence of Sam and K.C. Jones and Tom 'Satch' Sanders as well as Russell playing integral roles in Boston's success.
For me as a young fan, hating Boston teams was a learned behavior. I always liked Sam Jones because no one used (or since has used) the glass like him.
On the low-low, in 1967 I rooted for Carl Yastrzemski's Red Sox squad that lost in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals. Why? I still held it against Bob Gibson and the Cardinals for beating my Yankees in 1964.
Just like I rooted for Detroit in the 1968 World Series against the Cardinals. I still have an affinity for Mickey Stanley, Mickey Lolich, Denny McLain, Dick McAuliffe and Willie Horton. Man, while checking out Baseball-Reference.com, I just found out Milwaukee slugging third baseman Eddie Mathews was on that squad.
Yeah, it's stupid stuff I did as a fan that helps me to understand the misguided thought processes of fans now. Like I said earlier, it's free.
Something non-sports fans can't comprehend is the freedom to root for whomever you darned well choose. I have friends from New York who still root for the Oakland/L.A./Oakland Raiders no matter how badly they stink.
Old habits are hard to break - not impossible - but definitely difficult.
Bunts, blocks and screens
Colorado's 26-year-old Ubaldo Jimenez has an 0.78 Earned Run Average through 11 starts (10-1). His stuff reminds of a young (pre-drug) Dwight (Doc) Gooden. Jimenez has a 96-to-100 mph fastball, drop-off-the table curveball, a dive-bomb splitter and what, an 88-mile per hour changeup. ... In the you-never-know category, Toronto's Jose Bautista will turn 30 in October and was the 599th pick (20th round) in the 2000 draft. He played for Baltimore, Kansas City and Pittsburgh before joining the Blue Jays for the 2009 season. Bautista leads the majors with 16 homers. ... Washington's Livan Hernandez, 35, is still productively pitching. You think rookie Steve Strasburg can learn from talking to this veteran. ... Who the heck came up with the stupid, 'voluntary organized team activity?' The NFL Players Association needs to eradicate this practice in its next collective bargaining agreement. If not, then change the freak'n name to mandatory OTA.
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Who you like in the NBA Finals and in how many games?
Those who correctly predict will win win nathan, nada, not a thing.
Hey, we are honest.