The NBA may never be the same.
To see why, let’s assume the Lakers lose tonight to the Dallas Mavericks. This would set off the following chain of events:
The Fall of the Laker Empire: The nail in the coffin of the Kobe Bryant era. If the Lakers lose to the Dallas Mavericks and fall to 0-3 in the Western Conference Semifinals, their chances for a 3 peat will be slimmer than Steve Blake’s post chicken pox physique. No NBA team has ever come back from such a deficit. A dynasty done.
Phil Gone Fishing…For Good: Consequently, Phil Jackson’s time as an NBA (or at least Laker) head coach will be just about up. The only drama that would remain is whether the Lakers would have the wherewithal to give him one last game before a disbelieving Lakers crowd. Two fallouts here: First, Jeanie Buss will join Chasing 23 reader favorite Gloria James as a resident NBA single and hot mess (albeit a rich one). The Zen Master will no longer find entertainment dating an owner’s daughter from a team he no longer coaches. Second, every New York fan in the world will begin clamoring for Phil to turnaround the structural disaster that is their Knicks. Sorry Knick fan — Jackson only works for teams that typically employ 2 of the top 5 players in the NBA. Oh, and he likes defense too.
The Damage to the KB24 Legacy: This, I’m afraid (as a lifelong Laker fan), will be irreparable. It would not be equivalent to earlier losses to the only other post-Jordan dynasty, the San Antonio Spurs. Nor would it even be as acceptable as the 2004 loss to what in retrospect was a vastly underrated Detroit Pistons team. A loss to the Mavericks would be nearly inexcusable. No double 3-peat a la MJ. No more talk about becoming the GOAT. A big question mark in the greatest Laker of all time discussion.
Thunder in the Forecast: The fall of the Lakers would hasten the ascent of Kevin Durant and the Thunder (assuming they are able to get past the Grizzlies). The order of power in the West would continue to shift toward the younger up-and-comers. The Lakers may be able to compete for 2-3 more years to come, but their aura of invincibility will be permanently tarnished.
The Pau Gasol is the Most Skilled Big Man on the Planet Conversation Ends: Thankfully.
On Saturday then, the Heat have a similar opportunity to go up on the Celtics 3-0. If this were to happen, plan on the following:
The Scheme Team Rules Take Effect: With all serious challengers eliminated (the Lakers and the Celtics), the Scheme Team would be in the pole position to not just win the championship this year, but for many years in the future (sorry, Bulls fans). In sports terms: we will see an official changing of the guard.
Lebron James re-enters the GOAT conversation: Winning a championship this year would set Lebron up for the possibility of winning anywhere from 3-7 championships. People would forget all about last year’s “Quitness”, and remember the fact that Lebron has had 8 legendary years to begin his career highlighted by 2 MVPs, 2 NBA Finals and 1 ring. Cleveland becomes a distant memory and people once again begin talking about the benchmarks that Lebron needs to hit to pass MJ.
Boston Celtics = Old Yeller: Like most old dogs, it will be time for the Celtics to be put to bed. Doc Rivers will get out of dodge. Ray Allen will retire or be headed elsewhere. And we will never find out if anyone could have beaten the 2008 Celtics starting five.
So, in a nutshell, the result of this weekend could be: the destruction of one dynasty, the creation of another, the irreparable damage of one legend and the rise of another, the retirement of the NBA’s greatest coach, and finally, the rise of two teams (Heat and Thunder) who have next gen stars fit for a Twitter-loving world.
Not bad for an NBA fan’s Mother’s Day weekend – just don’t forget the flowers.