My father grew up in the 1980s, when hip-hop was on the rise and disco was slowly beginning to fade.
And the NBA was beginning to flourish.
While his father rooted for the Boston Celtics, composed of Hall of Famers in Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and the late Dennis Johnson, my dad, great-uncle and the rest of the family rooted for the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Celtics were gritty, hard-nosed. And the Lakers were “Showtime,” flying up and down the floor with Magic Johnson throwing no-look passes to teammates such as James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The Celtics and Lakers met three times in the NBA Finals during the ’80s, with the Lakers winning two titles to the Celtics’ one. Aside from the rivalry, though, another stat was more important: Throughout the decade, either the Celtics or the Lakers made an appearance on the NBA’s biggest stage.
The Celtics-Lakers rivalry ignited the NBA, and the league hasn’t looked back. Now, though, the league looks poised to begin another golden age.
With the Cleveland Cavaliers throttling the Celtics 135-102 on Thursday in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, they advanced to the NBA Finals and will play the Golden State Warriors.
The NBA will have its first Finals trilogy in league history.
The Warriors have been waiting for revenge, after blowing a 3-1 lead in last year’s Finals. And the Cavs are prepared to defend the throne. It’s a rivalry that needs to be appreciated.
Because even though the Cavs-Warriors rivalry is similar to the Celtics-Lakers battles of the ’80s, sports fans likely won’t see something of this magnitude again.
Despite this year’s NBA Finals historic nature, fans have lamented over the league’s lack of competition, especially in the postseason. The Warriors got to the Finals smoothly, entering them at 12-0. And aside from a hiccup in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cavs are entering the Finals unscathed at 12-1.
My father fell in love with the NBA in the ‘80s, and I’ve been in love with the league since I was 10. He’s seen the original movie before, but myself and the rest of my generation are receiving a remake that is perhaps better than the original.
The Warriors are the league’s sweethearts, yet they are also the league’s villains. The team’s fans love to see 3-pointers launched at will, and the team’s haters despise those same 3-pointers that are sometimes made from well beyond the 3-point line.
Already boasting a tough trio of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, the Warriors added Kevin Durant, too, boosting their mystique. But harken back to the ’80s, and you’ll see a mirror image.
The Lakers and the Celtics had at least three stars in their respective starting lineups. Magic, Abdul-Jabbar, Worthy, Scott and Michael Cooper highlighted the Lakers. Dennis, Bird, McHale and Robert Parish headlined the Celtics.
Yes, the Warriors are stacked. They’re like the boss character on a videogame, a character that seems impossible to defeat.
But the Cavs are more than capable of competing against perhaps the league’s best team.
The Cavs have LeBron James, who sealed his spot Thursday as the NBA’s all-time points leader in the playoffs. James surpassed Michael Jordan, and the accomplishment is just one more thing to add to his journey of overtaking Jordan as the best player ever.
Add Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and a solid bench to the mix, and the Finals is set to be epic again.
As the Cavs finished defeating the Celtics, my father and I sat on the couch, watching in awe. He began to talk about those old Celtics squads, even the ones composed of legendary players such as Sam Jones, Bill Russell and John Havlicek. These were players his father cheered for, along with the ’80s Celtics.
My father wanted the Showtime Lakers to prevail in the ‘80s, but in 2017, there is no opposition between father and son. We both love the Cavs.
But somewhere, perhaps another father-son duo is already beginning their heated arguments about these two teams that have captivated NBA fans for the past three years.