Back to the Finals


Back to the Finals

By Rich Levine

Spend some time today thinking about Game Seven.

It doesnt have to be a long time. But whatever it is, just make sure you remember how it felt.

I dont care if you only last 30 seconds, you MUST remember Game Seven . . .

And when you wake up on Saturday morning, fire up those memories again. And get ready for Sunday afternoon.

Thats when the Celtics and Lakers meet for the first time since that awful night in June, and while I think most of us have done a pretty great job of supressing those memories, on Sunday, theres no escape.

Basically, from the moment their coverage starts, ABC will paint the picture of Game Seven and the 2010 Finals in general and cram it down your throat. Theres going to be endless references and non-stop reminders. Fully produced video packages. In the two seconds its taken you to read this sentence, Mark Jackson has mentioned Game Seven twelve times. Magic Johnsons probably wearing a 2010 NBA Champions t-shirt on air.

You can imagine how that's going to feel.

And even if they never say a word, even if you watch this game on mute, youll still feel it. Its impossible to see these two teams on that floor and not have immediate flashback to the Finals.

But hey, that comes with the territory, I guess. Its one of the few lasting consequences of that crushing loss. Every time these two teams play or at least every time until the Cs somehow even the score Game Seven will be haunting.

Obviously, its something you deal with, because its CelticsLakers. Theyre still the best two games of the season. Nothing can match the energy, excitement, history and hype that come with this rivalry. Its always going to be special.

But right now, theres just a slight defect.

It's still great, but there are going to be some harsh moments.

It's like if a studio digitally remastered your favorite movie to feature random clips of your mailman singing naked in the shower.

But worse than that.

Either way, Game Seven was about as disturbing as they come. And really, we should know.

When you think back to each Boston team's most recent playoff appearance, all have ended in similar tragedy.

In 2009, Jonathan Papelbon blew a two-run lead in the ninth to end the season against the Angels. In 2010, the Bruins choked away a 3-0 lead to Philly. In 2011, the Patriots rolled over against the Jets. Throw in the C's and thats four epic failures.

Its been a carousel of swift punches to the gut, followed by lead pipes to the shin, and fastballs to the skull. Its been a painful stretch.

But still, nothings worse than what happened to the Celtics.

Obviously, it affects every fan differently. Some dont care about the Cs as much as they do the Bruins or Pats, so what happened in L.A. doesnt feel as tragic. But if youre looking on paper, if you lose all bias, its not even close.

In 2009, the Sox were already down 2-0, and already running on empty.

The Pats' loss was so painful because wed already sent them to Dallas; never even considered theyd fall to the Jets. But even if theyd won, there were still the Steelers and the Packers. There was a lot of work left.

Same with the Bruins, who obviously lose major points for the historically embarrassing way they went down. But that was only the conference semifinals. They still had a long way to go before hoisting the Cup.

The Celtics had 20 minutes and a 13-point lead.

Thats all that stood between them and the title. And for a bunch of guys on that team, it went far beyond just one title. It meant everything.

And they let it slip away.

To the Lakers.

Its not something anyone enjoys thinking about, but on Sunday there wont be a choice.

So why not ease into the boiling water instead of waiting to be pushed?

Game Seven. It happened. Let's just get it out there now.

And not let Stuart Scott and friends ruin an amazing Sunday.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Bart Scott: Falcons have 'the better quarterback' in Super Bowl

Bart Scott: Falcons have 'the better quarterback' in Super Bowl

Former Ravens and Jets linebacker - now an "NFL Today" analyst for CBS - Bart Scott usually "can't wait" to make his disdain for Tom Brady and the Patriots known. 

He was back at it Tuesday in an interview with CBS Radio's Damon Amendolara, in which he said the Falcons have the better quarterback heading into Super Bowl LI.

“We know they’re the better offense, and right now, you could say they got the better quarterback because they have the MVP of the league,” Scott said. Ryan is the favorite to win the NFL MVP, which will be announced the night before the Super Bowl at the "NFL Honors" show.

“Now that’s a debate, but Matt Ryan has earned the right for his name to be put up there with the upper-echelon quarterbacks," Scott said. "He’s always been elite in the regular season, but now he’s taken this show into the postseason and he’s won the hard battles against the elite quarterbacks and now you have to give him his due.”

More from Scott: “I can’t see the Patriots stopping this offense. So, that means that these receivers are going to have to [keep] pace. It’s all going to come down to what it always comes down to. It’s going to come down to who makes the turnovers, who gets up early and puts the pressure on the other team. Matt Ryan and that offense showed me a lot when they went behind [in the divisional round against the Seahawks]. Seattle came and busted them in the face, and [Atlanta] went right back down and answered immediately.

"The Patriots always find a way, but I think it makes it more close of a game than what people think.”

Tuesday, Jan. 24: Crosby, Matthews top coaches' poll

Tuesday, Jan. 24: Crosby, Matthews top coaches' poll

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while rooting for “Manchester By the Sea” to upset some favorites at the Oscars.

*Sidney Crosby and Auston Matthews top the annual NHL coaches' poll produced by TSN Insider Bob McKenzie.

*The oral history of Fox’s glowing puck used for the NHL during their run with the league is an entertaining one.

*Mike Babcock gives pep talks to the reporters along with his own players while running the show in Toronto.

*The Vegas Golden Knights are moving forward with their timetable toward hiring a coach with some good candidates out there now, and some other ones potentially available soon. I’ve wondered if Claude Julien would be interested in that spot if he’s let go by the Bruins this season, but the one sure thing is that he wouldn’t be out of work long if he is relieved of his duties.

*Claude Giroux needs to start playing a little more fearlessly and without dwelling on mistakes, according to his general manager.

*Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill doesn’t believe that fancy stats and analytics have had a major impact on the way the Wings do things.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has the rundown on a Millenial’s dream of performers at the 2017 NHL All-Star Game: Nick Jonas, Fifth Harmony and Carly Rae Jepsen.

*For something completely different: keeping an eye on the notion that Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is going to run for President.