The Los Angeles Lakers have participated in the last four NBA Finals. With the additions that they made during the offseason, it would seem that they are well positioned to potentially win a fourth 3-peat for coach Phil Jackson. The Lakers are less dominant than Jackson’s former teams with the Lakers and Bulls, but they still have the same late game Zen to be able to pull out the close ones. For a Lakers fan such as myself, that approach is real annoying – I wish they would just whoop up on teams like the Bulls and Michael Jordan used to do – but at the end of the day, they have been to the dance before, and know where the bathroom is.
On the other side of the country, the Boston Celtics have a bad taste in their mouth because of their loss to the Lakers in last years’ Finals. The Celtics have also added Shaquille O’Neal since last year, and Shaq is still Shaq when he needs to be. No matter what anybody says to me, Shaquille O’Neal is the most dominant force on a basketball court I have ever seen. If Shaq were to concentrate on basketball completely, rather than brand building trips to Harvard Square and such, then I’m fairly confident that he could still perform close to the level of his past dominance. Shaq has been savvy about his body size, and thus staying healthy, so that he can extend his playing career. It’s completely understandable that Shaq focuses so much time on his commercial presence, so I really don’t fault him – as the Bone Thugs and Harmony song says, “gotta’make that money man.” But somehow, I think that lack of focus will be a last second deal breaker if the Celtics were to face the Lakers in the Finals again in June 2011 (yes, we’re already talking about 2011. 2010 has been a good one…did I mention the Lakers won the Championship).