I realized something last night: I like the Lakers team. I hate Lakers fans.
You've met them before. They appear in your congregations and water coolers, looking like fans of the home team before going rogue. They open up sports converations with blaspheme like "Kobe's the best player of all time." They rock fedoras and Ed Hardy shirts (at least that's what they wear in my nightmares) , and have a smug sense of entitlement that we dually despise and crave.
These are Lakers fans.
They laugh at your team's ineptitude. They make you answer "Kobe as defender" questions, even though that idea is so 2005. They pour gin and juice on everything when Kobe hits a gamewinner because they can afford it. They think they are the coolest fans in the world. And they tell the rest of the NBA to stay thirsty, my friends.
So...for everything that is holy and right about the NBA, I'm rooting for the Celtics. The green and gold know the feeling of sucking for an entire decade (90s). Los Angeles has only been under .500 three times since the 1974-75 season. Plus, I think this Wesley Snipes-level black Boston team totally subverts the archaic Celtics imagery of the 1980s.
Yes, I know...I'm a Knicks fan. But don't get mad at me yet. I've got my reasons.
1. Nate Robinson
As Knicks fans, we LOVE to count the amount of guys that make it to the NBA Finals...without the Knicks. Since the Ewing-era, we've had suckers like Nazi Mohammed and Trevor Ariza touch the ugly gold trophy without us. (We also had a penchant for grabbing garbage players off winning teams. I'm looking at YOU, Howard Eisley.) Nate, welcome to the wish list.
Nate's only been the only reason to watch Knicks games over the past five years as Isiah wrecked the salary cap (Jerome James, et al). He gave us street cred at All-Star weekend (even though Iggy deserved to win). He, along with Jamal Crawford, laughed at the concept of shot selection. Seeing him in a Celtics uniform makes me feel like Jennifer Aniston as she watches Brad Pitt make out with Angelina Jolie Voight on Access Hollywood, only now she's two years removed. You know, in an "at least he's happy now" moment.
(You know what sucks? If Jen, Brad, and Angelina were black, this would've been par for the course. Heck, the whole thing sounded like a director's cut episode of Girlfriends. Damn it all.)
2. The Celtics and Knicks aren't real "rivals".
People seem to think that the Celtics/Knicks have a rivalry akin to that of Yankees/Sawx or Jets/Pats...but that's not true. There hasn't been a time in NBA history where both teams were great at the same time. When Russell reigned, the Knicks were meandering through the East. The fusion of Clyde and Black Jesus was drowned out by the NBA/ABA showdown. Bernie King was a role player to the Bird protagonist. And we watched idly by as the rejuvenation machine powered the 2008 model to a championship.
Yeah, I don't love the Celtics. I envy their success. But at least they've never made me bleed my own blood before. I have Michael and Reggie to thank for that.
3. The death and resurrection of Rajon Rondo.
Remember when the Pittsburgh/Seattle Super Bowl when the Steelers won even though Ben Roethlisberger only completed nine passes? I do. That's kinda how the last C's/Lake Show Finals played out. Rajon Rondo played like garbage, Kobe defended him by crouching down in the paint...and the C's won anyway. Unfortunately, Rondo caught the "in spite of" disease from Tony Parker (see: '03 Finals) and was almost traded off before the 2008 Draft.
No longer. Rondo's a beast. He powers this new-look Celtics machine, and is totally responsible for this team's desire to snag Ring #2. Another W would vindicate his standing in the eyes of everyone who hasn't watched a lick of hoops all season. (Just so you know...he's here for good.)
So you see, I have to root for the C's this time. History (and annoying Laker fans) have forced my hand. Let's just hope the Celtics can throttle the Lakers quickly, because I have a feeling this Cinderella carriage is about to turn back into a pumpkin.
Enjoy the best Finals in recent memory, people.