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Rearrange their faces. Give them all another name

Posted by Charles P. Pierce  June 14, 2010 03:15 PM

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I've been watching basketball in some form or another for going on 50 years now. This is not my first rodeo. Or my 101st. So when I tell you that Game Five featured two of the ten best basketball plays I've ever seen, you should realize that No.'s 1 and 2 are Bill Russell's blocking of a Jerry West layup from behind, and a Wilt Chamberlain dunk, all in the same game. (No. 3 is seeing David Thompson lay the ball in over Bill Walton on an alley-oop in the 1974 NCAA semifinal in Greensboro, N.C. No dunking allowed then, but the man's rise was otherworldly anyway.) The first was Tony Allen's here-I-come-from-Chelsea block of Pau Gasol's layup, and the other was that carnival act down the sidelines in which Paul Pierce made a great catch and a better pass, and Rajon Rondo flipped in a full-speed reverse layup at a crucial moment ... and that was probably only Rondo's second-best layup of the night. And let's not even mention the tip-in in traffic. OK, let's anyway. Carnival shots, all of them.

I know we all must celebrate the Celtics teamwork and all, and I do, but, my lord, this was some CGI-level athleticism. And, as such, it struck me that, for all their defensive grit, the Showtime element of this series also belongs to Boston. Outside of that inhuman third-quarter by Kobe Bryant -- including a tip-in that was even better than Rondo's -- what Lakers have made the kind of leap-from-the-couch, spill-the Doritos, step-on-the-dog, make-a-sound-that-causes-your-spouse-to-call-the EMTs plays that they're going to be replaying when Jeff Van Gundy's grandchildren are going off on tangents on national television? The Celtics are old, except where they're not, and that has made all the esthetic difference in this series. They have young guys who can make ungodly plays. The Lakers have Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar.

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