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Normally, whenever I do write about the NBA, it’s often because I end the season in some sort of anger. I refer you to my old post, “F— You and Your League, David Stern.” My big problem with the NBA is that more than any other sport, the referees really determine the outcome of way too many games. Officiating at its best is supposed to be invisible, but in this sport, it’s too often center stage. I concede that this may be the most difficult sport to referee. That being said, it doesn’t matter what the most difficult kind of surgery is, its difficulty does not mean incompetence is tolerated by damaged patients and relatives of the deceased. But it’s accepted as a fact of life, and it really shouldn’t.

That why I always say, “I’m not saying the NBA is fixed, but the NBA is fixed.”

This year, David Stern outdid himself by strong-arming the Timberwolves into making the Kevin Garnett trade and allowing Mitch Kupchak to rip Pau Gasol from the Grizzlies at gunpoint. And here we are, a rivalry renewed, taking me back to when I was an innocent child, and I really believed that the outcomes of NBA games were decided by the players. So I’ll half-skeptically, half-nostalgically enjoy the NBA Finals.

But who to root for? As kids, because we had no cable and the Knicks were ass anyway (much like today), you eventually decided to get behind the Celtics or the Lakers. Others have written about the deep philosophical divides that the two teams represented, and their stark contrasts. Both were great teams with great players. I guess I tended to root for the Lakers because they ran more, I liked their uniforms, and I was beginning to form my natural New York hatred for all sports things Boston. Plus, the Celtics had that weird floor.

But what about now? Really, I should root for neither. I hate the Lakers now in my adulthood, what with their uncanny ability to acquire championship-caliber big men for nothing, and of course, you gotta hate Kobe. I didn’t care for him pre-Colorado, and his rape trial pretty much just made it easier. I don’t think he’s a rapist, but he’s clearly got some sort of social ineptitude borne of entitlement thing going, the kind I can see leading to a bad, uncomfortable encounter, which at minimum I think, is what kind of happened in that situation. Even now, as a playing as a better teammate and facilitator, he still seems kind of robotic and phony.

But the Celtics? Let’s just say I was so sick of Boston sports teams winning that I was happy when the Giants won the Super Bowl. I’ve never been happy to see them win a stinking preseason game, being a Jet fan and all, but I was overjoyed at the fact that it was a New York team that took down the previously undefeated Patriots. With all the Boston/New England fans around these parts, I’m not sure I’m ready to see them win another championship just yet.

What to do? Root for a classic series unmarred by referees’ calls, where basketball shows the best of itself and reminds me why I really used to love the NBA in the first place?

Sure I could do that, but I gotta get my hate on to watch this matchup. Boston hasn’t been good since Larry Bird retired, so I think my hate is stronger with the Lakers. After all, Kobe would get his first championship without Shaq, and the Jordan comparisons might begin. You throw in the celebrities on the LA side (I’m sure ABC won’t overdo it at all), and the fact that most Boston fans will probably go back to worrying about David Ortiz’ exploded wrist as soon as the finals are over, and the fact that’ll it’ll probably take the Celtics at least 6 or 7 games to win it, and I do like Kevin Garnett.

I’m actually kinda pulling for the Celtics. Wow. 24 years changes a lot, doesn’t it? 

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