Just because the Boston Celtics failed to get to the Finals last season, that doesn't mean that the Lakers will have to wait another 20 years before the only true rivalry in basketball to resume. Nope. Not even the gods of basketball can be that cruel to deny both teams a chance to continue their age-old hatred for one another.
The 2008 NBA Finals may have ended in a bitter 39-point loss for the Lakers, and the Celtics establishing their dominance over the purple and gold early and often throughout the course of that series.
But agree or not, the Lakers of 2010 are not the Lakers of 2008.
Yes, it's been thrown all over the internet and the media (well at least the non-eastcoast biased media) that these Lakers are more than willing and capable of standing up to those "dreaded" men from Beantown. But if you've been following the Lakers since 2008, you should not have a shred of doubt in your soul that these Lakers can beat Boston this time around.
Winning the championship is all about hunger. The Celtics showed theirs through their intensity and defense in 2008, and the Lakers destroyed Orlando through execution and determination in 2009 with theirs. But the Lakers have added something else into the mix this year.
Not only are they fueled by proving every nay sayers that they can defend the title without Shaquille O'Neal or all the workhorse veterans they had in their three-peat teams not so long ago, but these Lakers have been carrying a certain fire in them that can only be put out by defeating the Celtics in the Finals.
And when it comes to having the drive and proving everyone wrong, who has been better at delivering the hand of vengeance than Kobe Bryant?
But it isn't just Kobe who wants to get rid of the ghosts of 2008, guys like Derek Fisher, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Jordan Farmar, Sasha Vujacic, and Phil Jackson all vividly remember and scowl at the mere thought of what happened at the end of that season.
Then you have two key players that have the gravity to influence this series towards the defending champs in Ron Artest, who continues to deny himself any form of personal achievement until he is staring at his very own championship ring, and Andrew Bynum, who has taken on Kobe's warrior mentality by refusing to sit a single game to rest his broken right knee for his first chance to go up against Boston's frontcourt.
In the eve of Game 1, it's still useless to compare the matchups and link the past confrontations between the two teams in the Finals to gain some ground or understanding of how this series will turn out because both teams are not the same teams we saw in 2008.
But if you want a glimpse of that aforementioned hunger of both teams going into Thursday's Game 1, all you have to do is go back and look at how each team celebrated winning their respective conference championship series.