A few years ago, the Boston Celtics traded for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, who joined Paul Pierce to become the new Big Three. Then, the Memphis Grizzlies gave the Los Angeles Lakers Pau Gasol for a washed up No. 1 draft pick, a never-used point guard and Gasol's little brother, who hadn't seen a minute of the NBA. Basketball fans all the world over shrugged their shoulders and resigned themselves to a continued domination from two of the most storied franchises in the history of not only this game but all games.
Basketball is unique because, as of today, 60 champions have been anointed and 32 came from either the Celtics or the Lakers. That total will rise by one no matter who wins this series. While football, hockey and maybe even soccer like to pretend that there's some parity in their sports, basketball revels in this tradition of the giants facing off. Baseball is perhaps the only other sporting industry that indulges in such a ferocious manner, especially in the analogous Yankees-Red Sox match-up.
David Stern, the commissioner of the NBA, said a few years ago that his dream match up for the Finals would be the Lakers versus the Lakers, but it's pretty clear that he's willing to settle for the Celtics making their way into the mix.
The Celtics have a lifetime record of 9-2 against the Lakers in the Finals, but that stat doesn't tell the whole story. It’s so much more involved, so much deeper. They've made the playoffs, become champions of the NBA, but haven't had to play each other a combined 21 times. They've controlled decades at a time—the Celtics the ’60s and the Lakers the ’80s. They've amassed superstar after superstar. And, now, again, the two most storied franchises of the NBA will play for all the marbles. The NBA Finals start on Thursday night on ABC.