If you're familiar with the NBA Finals broadcasts on ABC, you're probably familiar with the opening montage they play before games. In case you're not, here it is.
The first words of this montage are always "And so it begins" or "And so it continues." Tonight, they can finally say "And so it ends."
The 2009/10 season in general has been ragged. There have been some great moments and stories, to be sure, but much of the season has been dominated by the anticipation of what will happen this summer off the court. (I'm talking about free agency, in case it wasn't clear). Then, there was the NBA Playoffs, which were a pretty big disappointment. The players and teams most expected to lead the NBA into its newest era all disappointed. LeBron James left more questions than answers when his team was shockingly eliminated. Dwight Howard couldn't come up with enough good post moves to get back to the promised land. Etc. In the end, there was only one Game 7, and it was a downer.
Thankfully, Boston and L.A. have given us an NBA Finals for the ages. It hasn't been the best-played finals, and there haven't been as many signature moments as great Finals past, but make no mistake, this has been one of the best NBA Finals of all time. The games have been competitive, intense and interesting. Different players have been heroes. Kobe has been Kobe. The coaching has been top-notch on both ends. I was skeptical about this NBA Finals, but I was wrong: this series has been great, and easily the best NBA Finals series of the decade.
And it's only fitting it ends in a Game 7. For both of these teams, the time is now. Boston is full of old guys that showed their age in the regular season, while the Lakers have the league's largest payroll and very little wiggle room to improve going forward. In a season that could end up being the last of it's era, thanks to the 2010 free agency frenzy and the uncertainty of a new CBA, these two clubs are survivors. They've dominated the NBA in the last couple years, and they turned back the clock again this year to get to this point.
Anyway, enough rambling. We'll keep track of everything you need to know leading up to the big game tonight in this stream.