Well, this is partially unexpected. This is not destiny. This is not Russell/Chamberlain or a second coming of Magic/Bird. Although, no one is shocked about the Lakers being in the Finals. They were supposed to. Kobe has been playing as good as he ever has and even without him, the Lakers are still a Playoff quality team. It’s the same situation with the Magic; if you remove Dwight Howard, or Jameer Nelson as these playoffs have shown, they are still a team capable of winning big games, but despite this, they are not destiny’s children. They are the spoilers of the party.There weren’t puppets made for Dwight Howard and Orlando does not consider themselves witnesses to the exploits of Hedo Turkoglu and even if they did, they would have no need to proclaim that on the side of a building, but this is not only a nightmare for marketing executives, but also for the Lakers. I am picking the Lakers in 6, but it wouldn’t shock me for this to go seven. Much as Cavaliers fans were hoping for the Celtics to advance instead of the Magic for an easier match up, I am sure that Lakers fans were hoping for the Cavs to advance and certainly not for the same reasons Phil Knight was. Regardless though, this is more the story of the monolithic legend of Kobe Bryant versus the cogs and pieces of the Orlando Magic than anything else or perhaps Kobe versus himself and his legacy. This is his sixth trip to the NBA Finals and his sixth different opponent faced robbing him in a sense of any sort of consistent rival. At this point, the only rival he has is himself. He has been the best guard, perhaps best player overall for a decade now and that is what he has to compete against. His image of being a great player and the so called reality that he can’t win a title by himself.
We have yet to see if this is the end of Kobe Bryant’s great reign or the start of Dwight Howard’s. Much will be made over Kobe winning a title “on his own” if the Lakers do indeed pull this out, but more than anything they need input from Lamar Odom and the same consistency from Pau Gasol that he’s given them all year. I’m picking the Lakers in 6.