I was reading a Cavaliers blog today and something hit me. Their fans seem much more focused on Orlando than Los Angeles. To be fair, they were blogging on a story about the potential rematch in this year's ECF and Orlando was their focus. But a couple of Laker's fans logged in and lectured everyone about how nobody's a winner until they get past the true NBA champs. Wanna guess how Cleveland fans responded?
They showed far less respect for LA than for Orlando. They believed they could beat LA last year, and they believe they can beat them this year in the NBA finals. But only after they get past the Magic.
In a few weeks, NBA writers will be looking for angles. It isn't hard to keep the playoffs interesting, but they will be driven to focus on what tunes people in. Then they will realize something they don't want to admit.
LA is now boring.
Kobe had to win without Shaq. Fine. He did it.
Phil Jackson needed that "X". Ten championships. Done. Eleven isn't interesting.
Does anyone want to waste a paragraph on what it means for Kobe to win without Shaq...twice? No. You won't see a word about it.
Is it still alluring to see a Kobe - Lebron matchup? Maybe, but it got the TV execs burned last year. They'll throw hints and you will will still see a puppet show, but they won't go all-in unless it seems inevitable. In 2009, Kobe vs. Lebron was the mantra even in pre-season, but it isn't relevant today.
After you sweep those dead stories aside, what rises to the top? Does Cavs - Lakers sell in April? I'm listening but I'm not hearing much at all. The Lakers vs. Magic rematch is getting about zero airtime.
As much as Orlando fans would like the REAL story to be "Orlando must vanquish Los Angeles to win", it's not going to happen.
The real story is this: Lebron must defeat Orlando. It's one man against a city. Against a team.
If you write for the NBA, certain things naturally pop up on your radar. Kobe. Lebron. Manu. They win scoring titles. They carry the offense. It matters. Dwight? Ugh. Defense.
The clash of the titans won't come this June. It will come in May, between Orlando and Cleveland.
Sure, the NBA finals will be fun to watch.
But the real fireworks are not going to wait for June.
Everyone in Ohio and Florida knows this. The rest of the world will soon catch on.