Is It Really That Much Of A Formality …. ?
It’d appear that the common thinking when it’s all said and done . It will be the Los Angeles Lakers facing the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals for the 2009 season. And that’s as it should be based upon their regular season records.
But here’s the caveat there’s such a thing as the playoffs and that’s where the fortunes and tide of fate can be determined for the teams . If it’s to be believed then the Cavaliers shouldn’t have much trouble at all marching through the Eastern Conference playoffs.
As good as LeBron James and his supporting cast have performed during the season attaining a 66-16 record. The Los Angeles Lakers (65-17) have been equally effective in marching to supremacy within the Western Conference. And led by last season’s MVP Kobe Bryant the team has played well . But at the most inopportuned of moments they’ve shown their frailties as a team. But this came from the inconsistency of their bench and unwillingness to step up to the plate and be counted when it mattered most. Now there are those amongst us who feel that this is nothing more than a passing phase for the team. However a passing phase shouldn’t be repeated as often as we’ve seen from the Lakers as of late.
The loss against the Portland Trailblazers as inexplicable as it was . It shouldn’t go unnoticed by those more astute in the nuances of the game that the Trailblazers have had the Lakers’ number. And they’ve proven to be the Lakers’ nemesis and achilles’ heel.
While we can all agree that the events of the regular season shouldn’t as such be an indicator or precursor of things to come. With a Bryant led team and all the marbles to play for it’s the Lakers that everyone appears to be favoring at this juncture. Cavaliers’ fans obviously feel differently as to the unwavering support as to the concensus seems to be growing for the likelihood of a Lakers triumph in the NBA Finals.
Those within the city of Cleveland and LeBron James’ fans across the state are no doubt hoping that should the two teams meet in the Finals. Then all of the questions put forth will be finally answered once and for all.
We’ve all witnessed the capabilities of both players this season with the exploits of both Bryant and James. If nothing else we can agree on one thing , these two players have brought a great deal of excitement to the NBA. And though we’ve seen some stellar displays by the Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade. The game’s regular season MVP award will come down to a choice that will have to be made between Bryant and James. The concensus is that James is the pre-determined favorite. Rightfully so perhaps at this juncture.
But I’d dare say that if it comes down to a choice then both players would willingly accept not winning the regular season MVP award and pursue their goal of winning an NBA championship and ring.
For Bryant as he continues his pursuit of a fourth NBA championship ring. He looks to cement his legacy and prove to the naysayers that he can win a title without the assistance of Shaquille O’Neal. James for his part having tasted the elixir of an appearance in the Finals. A second appearance and seeking redemption would be of the highest order for him and his teammates. The Cavaliers’ appearance where they lost to the San Antonio Spurs left a bitter taste in not only James’ mouth but also that of his teammates and fans as well. And it certainly didn’t help that the appearance where they faced the Spurs, they didn’t acquit themselves with any degree of certainty. They were outmatched and outplayed in every facet of the game and their inexperienced showed.
Much of what we all expect to see between the two teams no doubt will predicated upon the play of both of these elite players. Bryant and James have become if anything more well rounded performers . Much of that may well have been derived from their experience in playing for the national team at the Beijing Olympics under the coaching of Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski. With the team having won Olympic gold and the nation’s presence on the international stage once again placed atop upper tiers of recognition. The esteem was brought back to the game . That in many respects the world views as the United States having brought to the world.
The game itself is appreciated globally as too are the NBA stars , homegrown as well those international stars who make their living within the NBA. No star however shines brighter than that of LeBron James on the international stage when it comes to the NBA. Bryant as the elder stateseman of the two, however still garners attention both here and abroad. He may well have been the focus of attention on th grandest stage of them all when the Olympic basketball tournament was underway. And his play there added with that of the unselfishness of his teammates provided a sense of purpose and pride for the nation as they redeemed themselves.
As I’d alluded to earlier we’re all hoping that the desired matchup will be that of the Lakers and Cavaliers. Nothing more would make NBA Commissioner David Stern happier. It’d bode well for the expectancy of the game and the NBA’s corporate sponsors. And with the acute economic times that the country now faces. Anything that brings some semblance of success would be welcomed. It certainly hasn’t helped at this juncture that a number of franchises within the NBA are having some severe financial difficulties.
With Stern’s own largesse set forth with a $200m bailout for twelve teams that he deems to be in need of assistance. It can be said that at this juncture we’re seeing that not only is the working man on the street undergoing problems. But the multi-millionaire and billionaire owners are in need of assistance because of as downturn in the economy. It may well sit well with some but when the banks aren’t making loans available to small businesses . It does leave somewhat of a distasteful feelng at the back of one’s palate. The banks are unwilling to lend to private individuals unless they have stellar credit credentials. They may well have reservations because of the uncertainty of the economic environment and the ongoing layoffs.
But the egregious actions of many of the major financial institutions. And then the willingness of the federal government to look the other way and then bail them out , makes us all feel that these actions seem inappropriate ?
If these finals are to live up to the expectations as it’s being hoped with regard to these two teams. Then not only will Bryant and James have to put on a supremely entertaining show exhibiting their own virtuousity. But their supporting cast must also show that they’re capable of performing in the NBA’s premier showcase. Both teams in their last appearances in the finals were on the losing end of a very lackluster performances on their part. This time around whoever underperforms will be going home with nothing more than an appreciation for their appearance. No one ever really tends to remember the runners up. It’s always the winners who garner the attention and that’s as it should be !
The burning qestion being asked now is who will prevail should these two teams meet in the NBA Finals ? If nothing else the the answer doesn’t appear to be a foregone conclusion. But there are those who feel as if it is . As a fan of the game I welcome the chance to see both teams and the two stars in question. The thing is at this juncture absolutely nothing is written in stone , so until the two teams make it to the designated births. I for one will be just looking to see how they acquit themselves in their pursuit of the game’s highest honor.