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NBA Finals Pits Longtime Rivals Lakers vs. Celtics

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NBA Finals Pits Longtime Rivals Lakers vs. Celtics

Sports

NBA Finals Pits Longtime Rivals Lakers vs. Celtics

NBA Finals Pits Longtime Rivals Lakers vs. Celtics

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Scott Simon talks to ESPN's Howard Bryant about the upcoming NBA Finals.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

Time now for sports. The NBA finals are set, and welcome to the '80s, the Boston Celtics beat the Detroit Pistons last night to return to finals for the first time since 1987 when they faced the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers made it a rematch 21 years late with a win over the reigning champion San Antonio Spurs on Thursday. The legends of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson will hover closely over the championship games. Our own man in green joins us now, Howard Bryant. Howard, thanks for being with.

HOWARD BRYANT: Hey Scott, good morning.

SIMON: Is this dream teams for the NBA?

BRYANT: Well, it's funny, I am reading the collection Everything They Had: Sports Writing from David Halberstam, and he - the stuff that dreams are made of from Sports Illustrated June 29, 1987, Celtics Lakers, it's appropriate - it's really great, and I think this is one thing that the NBA has been waiting for for a long time. These are the two best teams in the NBA. No Cinderella for either one. They are the most storied franchises with the most storied rivalry. It's Red Sox-Yankees, it's Cowboys-49ers. It's exactly what the sport has needed for a long time.

SIMON: But, let us remind ourselves when the season opened a lot of people said that the Celtics would be there in the end, K.J. in the crowd - or K.G. in crowd, but I don't think anybody put the Lakers there, I certainly didn't. These aren't, you know, your grandfather's Lakers. These are -

BRYANT: No, it's not the grandfather's Celtics either because neither one of these teams is a team that had been built through the draft or had been built through growth. These are free agent teams right here and the Lakers made a really big deal. The Celtics beat them twice this season, but they haven't played since December. And before when they did play, the Lakers didn't have Pau Gasol. They are a different team. They are the better team right now, the Lakers. The Lakers are - they're bigger, they're deeper, they're faster, they've got the best player in the league, the MVP Kobe Bryant, and they have another championship player in Derek Fisher. This is a very, very formidable team. They haven't lost a game at home and the Celtics have only lost one. For the Celtics, it's a very interesting match-up because they have grown. I have been extremely critical of them during the post-seasons because I didn't know if they had a championship pedigree. And they just keep growing as a team and they've shown the mental toughness. I thought Detroit was better, but the Celtics won every championship point.

SIMON: Howard, let me get you to crawl out on limb. Who are you going to choose in this series?

BRYANT: I'm not going to bet against the Boston Celtics because everything that I thought that they were - in every area I thought they were deficient, they've come through, but I do think the Lakers are the better team. I'm going to say the Boston Celtics in seven with the home court advantage.

SIMON: I'll say the Lakers and six for no particular reason.

BRYANT: We'll see.

SIMON: Howard Bryant, for espn.com, the magazine, and the water bottle, thanks so much for being with us.

BRYANT: Thanks as always.

SIMON: And this is NPR News.

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