The NBA Finals start tonight and like in 2009 I was able to predict The Finals match up. In 2009 it was Lakers vs the Magic, picking a winner in that series was fairly simple to predict. The Lakers were a clear favourite. No one expected the Magic to make it to the NBA Finals let alone win it. Perhaps at the start some doubted if OKC could win an NBA Title. After going through a list of former Champions in the Spurs, Lakers and last year's Champions the Dallas Mavericks it has changed some minds. In meantime the Heat who were formed to win not just a title but many titles enter the Finals as an unlikely underdog. It was a much tougher road to the Finals for Miami this year as they had to play both the Conference Semis and most of the Conference Final without Chris Bosh. The Heat struggled to get by a Boston team trying to make one last stand with their older version of what Miami has. This is the NBA Final that most NBA fans wanted at the end of the day and now you have it.
If you grew up in the 80's every NBA Season it was expected that the Celtics and Lakers would face each other in June. It was a massive surprise if any other team would make it to the NBA Finals. We may be on the verge of a similar situation with the Thunder and Heat. If you think about it, the Thunder are still young and are likely only to get better. If they can find a way to keep James Harden and Serge Ibaka they are pretty much set for a long run as the kings of the Western Conference. Kevin Durant is making a case to be considered in the debate as the best player in the game. He was the runner up to Lebron James for MVP and these two might just play the roles of Bird and Magic in this rivalry for the ages. Not that you can compare the players games to those Hall of Famers. However, in their own right both should one day also be a part of the Hall of Fame when their careers are over. Just like the Lakers and Celtics swapped turns with the NBA Title so did Bird and Magic with the MVP Award.
The Heat have a tremendous amount of pressure to win not just a title but many titles. The biggest road block to that might well be the Thunder. It calls to mind another era of the Celtics and Lakers rivalry. In the 60's it was Bill Russell and the Celtics that dominated the Lakers with Chamberlian and Jerry West. This was a one sided rivalry that saw Russell and the Celtics find a way to win every year and leave the Lakers as The Finals runner-up. The Celtics set a record that likely will never be broken running off 8 straight championships. Four of those Championships came at the hands of the Lakers. The Celtics and Lakers would hook up two more times and both times the Celtics won making the Lakers 6 time losers. It would not be until till 71-72 when they would finally get their title. Could the Heat end up like that Laker squad that was never able to truly find a way to beat Boston.
Nothing would please Heat haters more than to see them become the Buffalo Bills of the NBA making the finals each year only to have it end in epic failure and Chris Bosh tears. This could be the start of an epic rivalry for the ages and a true changing of the guard for the NBA. Will kids today talk about the glory days of the Thunder and Heat rivalry. Tell stories of Lebron James, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade and that often misunderstood Chris Bosh. Only time will tell, but the ingredients for a long rivalry that we rarely see in modern pro sports is all there. Fans of 28 other NBA Teams would prefer this not be the case. However for those who are fans of not just a team but the NBA this could be the first chapter of a magical story.
Thunder and Heat could be your children's Lakers vs Celtics.