Listen, last week I put myself out of a limb to express a unique opinion (Lebron vs. Carmelo, would be a better one-on-one matchup than Lebron vs. Kobe) which many of you agreed with, a few disagreed with emphatically, and other major media outlets appeared to have cosigned if only for a few days. This was my opinion on a better matchup, not my opinion on what wed see in the Finals. Sounds like Im back-peddling right? I beg to differ.
My argument was that Kobe couldnt stick with Lebron physically, and thats true. But there is one characteristic that Kobe towers over Lebron on, and that is his will to win. Kobe wasnt going to lose in the Western Conference finals this season if his life depended on it. As for Lebron, you would almost believe that he had it in his head that the Finals were his right. He learned a tough lesson and so did we about the Cleveland Cavaliers.
If youre a bit shaky about your belief in curses, the city of Clevelands professional sports clubs should put you over the hump.
The Cavaliers are a solid big man, preferably a power forward (you know, like a Carlos Boozer sorry for the low blow) away from getting out the East, let alone winning a championship.
Lebron James is a sore loser
Lebron, my dude, how could you leave us a witness to your utter lack of sportsmanship after the Magic sent you home for the summer? You left Montell Jordan, my mistake; Dwight Howard waiting for the hug half-hearted congratulations that Carmelo gave Kobe the night before. Lebron, what youve done by walking off the court without saluting your peers, not handling any post game interviews and leaving your teammates to fend for themselves during the post game press conference (although some would say your teammates left you to fend for yourself on the court) just might be the black eye on your early career that youll retire with. And Carmelo, just focus on the game, stay out of the recording studio, and youll have your ring in two years.
Now on to the main course. The Los Angeles Lakers were odds on favorites to make it to this point, so there are no surprises there. However, if you picked the Orlando Magic to make it to the Finals since day 1, you must be a lifelong fan of the franchise or a compulsive liar. The last time the Magic got this far, Anfernee Hardaway and Shaquille Oneal were the One-Two punch. The last time the Lakers won the NBA Championship, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille Oneal were Batman and Robin. And last year when Kobe lost in the Finals, Shaquille performed a song about how Kobe couldnt win the title without him. I wonder if Shaq has a remix with T-Pain waiting for Kobe if he so happens to fail on a galactic scale this time around.
The Magic beat the Lakers 2-0 during the regular season. Both times, their starting point, Jameer Nelson was the leading scorer. Rumors have begun to surface that Jameer will possibly return from his shoulder injury that put him out for the season back in February. However, Magics GM, Otis Smith stuck to his word over the weekend that Jameer will not make a return. So what does that leave for Orlando?
Clearly, the Magic is going hard on all cylinders and at the right time. Dwight This Is How We Do It Howard is playing up to what his coach envisioned for him. Hedo Turkoglu regained a confidence in his game that he hasnt had since he played for the Sacramento Kings. Rashard Lewis is playing up to the contract he signed. And Mickael Pietrus, a possible X-Factor, is the offensive/defensive spark off the bench that just might get on Kobes nerves.
The Lakers came so close, yet so far last year. Derek Fisher wants another ring really bad; like Ill throw an illegal pick and act like nothing happened bad. Lamar Odom has come to realize that he cant hide behind his own talents and expect for his team to prosper. Pau Gasol knows his way around the Triangle Offense and more importantly gained a much needed backbone in the paint. And Luke Walton could very well be the X-Factor of the series of the Lakers come out on top.
In my view, Orlando has the advantage over Los Angeles in the front court and in 3-point shooting. The Lakers doesnt have a sure answer for Howard. And if they are forced to double team him, their defense in the passing lanes better be championship quality or the Magic will destroy them from behind the 3-Point line. Los Angeles has the advantage in the back court and the bench. Bryant is an advantage in himself. If the Magic has any chances of winning the title, they must frustrate Bryant early and often. This is not about shutting Bryant down so that his teammates score or otherwise. If the Magic steals either Game 1 or Game 2 in LA under the 2-3-2 series format, the pressure is on #24. And if LA falls behind by two games, you will see the selfish, bratty Kobe show up. Yes, the same Kobe that showed up last year and we all saw what happened then.
NEWS JUST IN: Lakers guard, Shannon Brown was served his papers for a civil suit by an unidentified woman for an alleged sex-related incident in Denver of all places? It supposedly went down while he was a Charlotte Bobcat this past January before he was traded to the Lakers. Yall can have that one.
I wont keep you long, so here is my prediction: The Orlando Magic will win their first NBA Champion, 4-2 and Rashard Lewis will be the NBA Finals MVP.
Will Deshair Foskey is a social journalist/blogger with New Jersey as his home state and AllHipHop.com as one of his many passions. Deshair has two projects in the works for a Summer 09 launches.