One of the great things about the Lakers vs. Celtics series is that they aren’t just playing for a title, they are playing for legacy. There is so much at stake in Game 7 that the repercussions will be felt for a very long time:
Bean is fighting tooth and nail to get on the Mount Rushmore of the NBA. He obviously has the most to gain and the most to lose. A 5th title over his bitter rival will vault him into the conversation of one of the greatest basketball players that ever lived. A loss drops his Finals record to 4-3 — and his critics, fair or not, will have a field day.
The Big 3:
With the Big 3 I like to use the Peyton Manning comparison (and Brett Favre, to a lesser extent ). One title gets you out of the Barkley category (or Dan Marino category, if you want to follow the NFL analogy), but it doesn’t quite put you up there with the greats of the greats.
Manning will end up with a lot of records, but if he never wins a 2nd championship, people will always think something was missing, similar to Favre.
When you think of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce, all three of them will probably end up in the Hall of Fame, but a second ring just pushes them up another notch not just in NBA lore, but Celtics lore.
Foolishly people were calling Rondo the best PG in the game after a few spectacular performances in the playoffs, but once Kobe Bryant was put on him defensively in the Finals he has been exposed. His lack of range and poor free throw shooting has hurt the Celtics.
Game 7 will go a long way to show if Rondo has the mental capacity to be one of the elite point guards in the game. He has to play not just well, but great for the Celtics to win.
While Jackson’s legacy is pretty much set, the last thing he wants hanging over his head is being unable beat Doc Rivers not once, but twice.
The opposite is true for Doc: if he is able to beat Phil Jackson twice in the NBA finals, he will always be able to puff his chest out about that.
For many, when they think of Ron Artest, the first thing they think about is the brawl. If he is able to help the Lakers win a championship, the story becomes how he was able to come back from all that negativity to a NBA Championship. His biopic is going to be great whenever they do it.
The Lakers “B” Squad:
Gasol, Odom, Bynum, the aforementioned Artest, Farmer, Fisher, and Brown. They are the group that people said weren’t tough enough to beat the Celtics, but a win in Game 7 erases all that. Particularly for Gasol — who is trying to establish that he is now the best big man in the game.
The Celtics “B” Squad:
Not quite as much at stake, but for Nate Robinson, Big Baby, Rasheed Wallace, and the others, another title gets them free booze in Boston for life.
I don’t know about you … but I am ready for Game 7.