Ron Artest, Rasheed Wallace, Andrew Bynum
The Dodgers have never played a World Series Game 7 in my lifetime, but Game 7 of the 1984 NBA Finals between the Lakers and Celtics came during my heyday as a Laker fan. And I have no memory of it. It’s bizarre. I remember so much of what led up to that seventh game, but the game itself jogs nothing in my brain. Basically, when I think of the 1984 Finals, I think of Gerald Henderson’s steal. For all that went on, that tells the story.
So maybe tonight’s won’t be a game for the ages, for me, anyway. When I think of the 2010 NBA playoffs, maybe I’ll be more likely to think of Ron Artest’s put-back against Phoenix than anything else.
The push and pull of this series has revved me up. I went to Game 2 of the NBA finals and left in defeat but with relative piece of mind, believing that the Lakers would have no trouble regaining home-court advantage by winning one of three games in Boston. And so they did, in their next opportunity.
But by the time Game 5 came, I was dying as Boston made shot after shot. With Game 6, the turnaround by the Lakers brought back the passion of my days as a no-holds-barred Laker fan — not so long ago, really.
I’m not as hardcore as I once was. Almost nothing in the NBA regular season affects me anymore, and if the Lakers had bowed out in earlier playoff rounds this year, I would have been disappointed but similarly composed.
But tonight, I’m back. It’s not a matter of being a fair-weather fan, because the Lakers’ nearly bottomless pit of fair weather this year has mostly anesthetized me. It’s this all-stakes, live-or-die night that’s done it. I want this. I really want this. I hope it’s one worth remembering.