This post was contributed by Hayes Hemingway a medical marijuana journalist in Cali.
Going into these 2010 NBA Finals I have many thoughts but only one prevails: “Lakers versus Celtics” for Sega Genesis is the greatest NBA video game ever.
Yeah there’s “NBA Jam” but no game captured the spirit of being a fan of the game like “Lakers versus Celtics.” For those who know how crazy it gets when these two meet for all the marbles, it’s all too clear how invaluable this match-up is for the game of basketball, globally. This is the only outcome fans worldwide want each season. For me though, anytime these teams face-off, the first thing I think about is that video game.
I was a sports-obsessed eleven year old when it first came out, so I already understood what these two teams had been through in the eighties. Michael Jordan was only beginning to gain fans nationwide because the country was still decidedly polarized: you either liked Bird or Magic. Don’t believe me? Go watch Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing,” and you’ll see this rivalry’s effect on society.
But even more telling was the rivalry’s effect on NBA fans young like myself, and not so young like my father. If it weren’t for this series, we wouldn’t appreciate Michael Jordan’s heroics, Patrick Ewing’s dependability or Dominique Wilkins’ explosiveness — because the Lakers and the Celtics gave CPR to a league that was literally unconscious in the 80s. That passion stayed with me year after year as Electronic Arts’ sports division continued to release classic games.
I’m not afraid to admit that up until 2003 I was still playing NBA Live ’97 for Sega Genesis. It was that entertaining for me even in my early twenties. I wasn’t playing on an emulator either. I was actually using the six button (smaller version of kidney-shaped) controller on an original Sega Genesis–the one with the volume fader built-in to the console. My obsession with sports coupled with my unwillingness to change kept me glued to an outdated game for seven years — but little did I know the seeds were planted in 1991 when “Lakers vs Celtics” came out.
The rivalry was always so star-studded and passionate that it created its own place in sports lore. This very idea I always tried to re-create on “Live ’97” by stacking teams with stars or making up my own players with un-human abilities and cool names — the product of growing up in the 80s and always being exposed to two of the most iconic players ever: “Bird” and “Magic.”
These finals are no different and there’s an added subplot circling around how much the Lakers have grown since the flogging they took from the Celtics in the 2008 Finals. For Pierce, Allen and Garnett this most likely is their last chance to win a title together. Kobe, Gasol and Odom played like twinkies last time they faced Boston in the finals, but tonight they re-enter the ring as defending champions and their Hall of Fame coach’s future with the team hinges on this series’ outcome.
There’s no way I could have come up with this series’ scenario, playing my game — trying to be a GM and making an All Star team of my own. Life and art are imitating each other here. Who knew two teams playing against each other could have such lasting effects on the world as we know it? I’ll tell you this much: every NBA free agent is watching these finals’ games and hoping to create a similar situation for themselves after July 1st, 2010. Ask Lebron, Chris, Dwayne, Dirk and Amare if you don’t believe me.
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