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Thursday: NBA Finals

[IMG:L]NBA Finals — 9/8c on ABC

Even if this year’s NBA Finals didn’t feature a marquee matchup, it’d still be significant enough for a mention in this space, where we usually dare not speak of sports.

But, of course, this year’s championship isn’t just any old best-of-seven. It’s the most highly anticipated NBA Finals in decades!

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The Lakers-Celtics rivalry–easily basketball’s best-known, and possibly the most storied in all of sports–dates back all the way to the 1950s, when the two teams met on an almost yearly basis for an entire decade.

The rivalry reemerged in the ‘80s, when the Lakers’ Magic Johnson and the Celtics’ Larry Bird ruled the game.

But the two franchises haven’t met in the Finals since those two retired in the early ‘90s, and there hasn’t been such a highly anticipated matchup ever since.

Tonight marks the beginning of pretty much everyone’s dream Finals, especially Commissioner David Stern and the long-suffering NBA fans of Boston, who have endured quite a rough patch since the days of Bird.

It’s Kobe Bryant (whose status as the Next Michael Jordan will be nearly undeniable if he wins the series) vs. the Celtics’ Big Three (Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, the latter of whom starred in Spike Lee’s 1998 basketball flick He Got Game); East Coast vs. West Coast.

In other words, whichever storyline you’re watching for, it’s well worth the time–even if you’re not a b-ball fan.

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For said non-fans, there’s even a Hollywood subplot–at least for all the games played in L.A.: Virtually every star imaginable will be attending these games (not just Jack Nicholson).

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