Lakers and Celtics: The Bells Toll for Thee

In the month of the Bicentennial of Charles Dickens’ birth, it was the best of games and it was the worst of games. It looked like one of the playoff games between the two teams during their recent championship seasons.

At the same time, it also looked like a game from the 1970s when pushing, shoving and hand checking ruled the courts.

It was also a harbinger of the end of an era.

The Lakers beat the Celtic 88-87 in a thoroughly enjoyable overtime game that brought back memories as well as ghosts of Lakers' and Celtics' pasts. Kobe was being knocked around like a pin ball and "Metta World Disaster" was mugging Paul Pierce as if they were in a back alley.

It was no place for finesse.

These types of games were the hallmark of the NBA in the 1970s.

In the early 1980s, Magic Johnson turned the league on its ear with Showtime and the Lakers, along with Denver and by San Antonio, were scoring points like a teenager on a newfangled pin ball machine. Everything got faster. Point guards broke speed limits. Michael Jordan broke elevation limits. And ultimately, Shaq broke backboards.

But it is 2011 now, and scores are dropping like a rock in the ocean.

There is no question that a lack of preseason, lack of practice time between games, less foul calls and the one-of-a-kind shifting of talent after the strike, have resulted in a dilution in the quality of games.

Jerry West summed up my stance, when he said it "looked like exhibition games" to him.

It is likely that the games will continue to look like exhibition games until mid-March at least, when teams will have had sufficient time to practice together. In the Lakers case, they were still signing players right up to the start of the exhibition season (if there was one) and dealing with moody players like Pau and Odom.

Several players actually thought the str...

About the Author