So, I completely destroyed my ankle playing tennis last week which prompted me to take two and a half days off from work (Yes, it’s that bad). I spent that time doing what a sub-thirty year old male does when he’s off work and principally immobile...I watched ESPN, the weekly showing of “The Godfather” I and II on AMC, and played an absurd amount of “March Madness ‘08”. Much like Peter from “Office Space”… “I did nothing, and it was everything I always thought it could be”.
Anyway, perhaps the most intriguing thing I watched during that whole time was an NBA classic films spot chronicling Jordan’s 63-point game in the Garden against the Celtics in the ’86 playoffs.
Now, facts of interest:
1. This was just Jordan’s second year in the league, and he sat out most of the year with a broken foot that doctors advised him to rest through the end of the season and offseason. So, he did this while recovering from an injury.
2. That Celtics team is easily one of the top three best teams in the history of the NBA. Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish, Danny Ainge, Dennis Johnson, and an aging Bill Walton. In fact, they were so good that they won that game in overtime. Which leads me to…
3. The Celtics swept Chicago in that series. SWEPT Chicago in that series…If that’s not a testament to the fact that a superstar scorer does not guarantee wins in basketball, I don’t know what does.
4. Larry Bird was quoted after the game as saying “…I think that was God disguised as Michael Jordan”…Larry freakin’ Bird!...That’s not exactly Craig Ehlo saying that. That’s Larry Bird, inarguably one of the top ten, probably top five, best players ever, and Jordan so demoralized anyone put in his path that night that the only way Bird could describe it was to say that it was like watching God play a basketball game against humans.
Now, my point in all this is that I’m very excited about the NBA playoffs for the first time since the ’98 finals, and that was due to being able to watch Jordan in what we all knew would be his last and that one of my favorite players of all time, John Stockton, had a shot to win a ring.
Why am I so excited?...
1. Because I’ve run through every possible first round matchup in the West and I would refuse to bet on a single one of them…And that’s the first round!...Not that there won’t be favorites, but, as Golden State reminded us last year, the West is just that deep.
2. Because watching that clip of Jordan’s 63-point game made me think that today’s equivalent would be Kobe or Lebron dropping that kind of performance on the Spurs (who will eventually go down as one of the ten best teams ever) or Celtics, respectively…AND THAT TOTALLY COULD HAPPEN!…I don’t know maybe I’m just jonesin for baseball more than I realize, but I can’t shake the feeling that one of those guys is going to assume the throne during this year’s playoffs just like Jordan did that year which, just like Jordan, may not translate to a title run… yet (I do realize that Kobe has three rings, but everyone knows that never happens without Shaq in his prime).
3. Because the thought of having a Lakers v. Celtics finals matchup excites me. You’ve got Kobe and Gasol, a dominating, prima-donna superstar and a weird Canadian that should not be as good as he is, going against Allen, Pierce, and Garnett, three sincere, legitimate stars that all suddenly find themselves resurrecting a great franchise after having to waste most of their collective prime on bad teams (sorry T).
This is going to be good because you don’t know what’s going to happen...What if the Celtics draw Cleveland in the second round of the East playoffs and Lebron decides to drop 63 on them in game two at the Garden?...Have you noticed what he's been doing to his opponents lately?...That could really happen!…I’m excited.