Maybe I'm romanticizing the past a little bit. But to me, basketball was at its absolute peak in the 80's. The play was great. There were so many great players and good teams. We had classic individual performances (71 points by David Robinson), classic All Star weekend performances (Bird's "who's finishing 2nd three-point contest win, the Jordan/Nique dunk battles), and classic playoff performances (Bird vs. Nique, Jordan's 63 at the Garden). And so many of those classic playoff matchups involved the Celtics and Lakers. Part of what made it great is that both teams won. Each team could lay claim to being the best. Each team got its shots in.
So maybe Kobe Bryant's seemingly inevitable championship is GOOD for us Celtics fans. As much as most of us hate him and that laundry he wears, as much as we'd relish him losing… it's just going to add fuel to our collective fires.
If the Celtics beat LA in their first meeting next year, C's fans will say "see… you can't beat us when we're healthy." And Lakers fans will probably give us the finger. The media will go nuts for the "2008 champs vs. 2009 champs." Kobe will be even more hate-able to us… and more love-able to Lakers fans. And depending on each team's offseason moves, next year's premier… borderline nauseating… Finals matchup will be Boston-LA rather than LeBron-Kobe (will they make a Pierce puppet? Probably not).
Trust me, I'd be in all my Laker-hating glory if the Magic come back to win this series. But watching Kobe fake-cry and fake-like his teammates and fake-share the spotlight will only make me want to beat him more. And that's what being in a rivalry is all about. Winning and watching your rivals win. It's like a great fight. If each opponent is getting shots in, then the whole thing is exciting.
So maybe a Lakers victory is for the best. Maybe a Lakers victory will teach some of the younger Celtics fans what a real rivalry is all about. Celtics-Lakers used to be one of the best in all of sports. So maybe the thing we least want to see will remind us why that was the case.