Yeah yeah, I know most of you are bitten by the EURO 2008 bug. But don’t forget, the NBA Finals is also going on right now.
Game 2 of the NBA Conference Finals. WHAT A GAME! Boston Celtics who were up by 24 points with 8 minutes left on the clock, suddenly found themselves leading by just 2 points with 38 seconds remaining! A truly amazing and admirable attempt by the Lakers to come back with a 31-9 run in just 7 minutes. Celtics barely won 108-102 and they now lead the series 2-0.
One thing that really struck me though, are the Cheerleaders during that game. Here in India, the moral police and other concerned individuals made such a loud noise over the inclusion of the cheerleaders in the IPL saying it is against our "Indian culture" to copy and promote such "obscene" American traditions. They said displaying those skimpily clad women on TV hurt the sentiments of many television viewers, and if people want to see such "shameless" cheerleaders, then they should change the channels and watch "American sports", not IPL.
Any loyal follower of the NBA on ESPN will tell you that WE NEVER GET TO SEE THE CHEERLEADERS. More than 10 years I’ve been rigorously following the NBA now, and every time there is a time-out or a break, we are either taken to the commentator’s room or shown an advertisement. Yes, the cheerleaders are dancing right there in the stadium, but on TV we never see them.
It’s really funny how some people can just make a judgment without even knowing the ground realities. And people who say such things are quite educated: celebrities, actors, people you think would be more open regarding this issue. Yet most of them maintain a diplomatic stance, saying that we shouldn’t copy the American sports culture!
At the most, during an NBA match we may catch a brief 2-second glimpse of the cheerleaders. But 99% of the time, the cameramen focus on the game and the players, after all that’s what matters.
Whereas during the IPL, the cameramen not only went up close and personal with the cheerleaders, but even made many attempts to zoom up their miniskirts for the whole Nation to see! You NEVER see that kinda crap on any "immoral" American sports. And when TV viewers see the cheerleader’s white undees that the sick slobbering cameraman finally manage to focus at, all Hell breaks loose and people vent out their fury at the... Cheerleaders!
Anyway, much has already been said about this issue and I am in no mood to rekindle the flame. Seeing the cheerleaders (or rather, hardly seeing the cheerleaders) in today’s NBA Finals really aroused a couple of repressed emotions regarding this whole issue, that’s all.
Game 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary) of the Finals will be held at Staples Center in LA. This Finals is sort of historic in its own way because it is the first time these two teams are meeting in the Finals since the immortalized era of Larry Bird versus Magic Johnson Finals showdown in 1984, 85 and 87. Larry Bird’s Celtics won the first Finals (4-3) while Magic Johnson’s Lakers took the other two Finals (4-2, 4-2)
However, either era was soon suppressed by the unstoppable Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls, along with Pippen, Rodman, Steve Kerr and Luc Longely. People forgot about the high intensified Celtics-Lakers clash, until today when they meet again for the first time in an NBA Finals.
I am rooting for the Celtics because I love Paul Pierce and I hate Kobe. I love those players like Pierce who have this amazing "Watch out I’m gonna come thru and if you don’t wanna move then I’m coming right thru you" attitude. Kobe on the other hand, has more of a "I’m the King so you’re nothing to me" holier-than-thou attitude. I find him very arrogant, conceited and egocentric. Plus he’s a selfish player.
Actually I am a loyal fan of the San Antonio Spurs, but since Duncan and his team failed to make it to the Finals, it is the Celtics that I am cheering for now.
Apart from Pierce, there are those two Olympics 2000 gold medalists former Timberwolves center Kevin Garnett and former Milwaukee Bucks & Seattle Supersonics shooting guard Ray Allen. Both KG and Ray are definitely not the giants they once used to be, but then, that’s the nightmare everyone will have to face as they get older. It’s a vicious cycle.
Lakers on the other hand are still commanded by Phil Jackson (seriously, how old is he now???) and then there are those two Stojakovic-look-alikes in the form of Vujacic (VOO-yah-chich) and Radmanovic (rod-MON-o-vich). And just like the former Sacramento King’s Stojakovic, they too can nail a lot of three-pointers. There’s also the tall Spaniard Pau Gasol (POW guh-SAHL) rookie of the year in 2001 and a legend with the Memphis Grizzlies who I still find awkward to watch wearing a Lakers outfit.
All in all, I want Celtics to win but I hope Lakers win the next two games to make this series (best of 7) a lot more interesting. Below are the timings for Indian viewers on ESPN (trust me, the new espnstar.com design is really complicated and it took me a very long time to figure out where the TV timings are).
GAME 3: @ Lakers 11-June 13:30 IST
GAME 4: @ Lakers 13-June 14:00 IST
GAME 5: @ Lakers 16-June 14:00 IST (if necessary)
GAME 6: @ Celtics 18-June 14:00 IST (if necessary)
GAME 7: @ Celtics 20-June 14:00 IST (if necessary)
And for those of you who want to catch the reruns:
GAME 3 rerun: 12-June 03:30 IST
GAME 3 rerun: 12-June 11:00 IST
GAME 4 rerun: 14-June 03:30 IST
GAME 4 rerun: 14-June 13:00 IST
GAME 5 rerun: 17-June 03:30 IST (if necessary)
GAME 5 rerun: 17-June 11:00 IST (if necessary)
GAME 6 rerun: 19-June 03:30 IST (if necessary)
GAME 6 rerun: 19-June 11:00 IST (if necessary)
GAME 7 rerun: 21-June 13:00 IST (if necessary)
GAME 7 rerun: 22-June 03:00 IST (if necessary)
Enjoy the game and... stay in school
Just remember, Boston lead the NBA with the most number of championships at 16, while Lakers are second at 14. The result of this Finals will have a deep impact on the existing record. To me, the Boston Celtics are more like Liverpool football club: A great team with a great past struggling to regain the glory era of days gone by. I hope they do.