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Even without LeBron, Finals a must-see

POSTED June 27, 2009 2:36 p.m.
LeBron James was a poor sport last weekend, failing to shake hands with the Orlando Magic after his Cleveland Cavaliers were shunned the chance for an NBA Championship after losing in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. He decided to walk through the tunnel of Amway Arena — the Magic’s home court — with his head down, avoiding any kind of human contact, and on to the locker room.
He then put on headphones, boarded the team plane and disappeared into the night.
He probably took the majority of the NBA fans with him.
Nike executives had been pushing for a Kobe Bryant-LeBron James showdown since the start of the postseason, thanks to those funny puppet versions of Kobe and LeBron in all of those commercials — as some called it destiny, as some called it the dream matchup. It was supposed to be the two greatest basketball players right now going head-to-head with each other, something that would have attracted millions of viewers.
Only Kobe came through, as his Los Angeles Lakers will be playing for their 15th championship. The Magic will be aiming for their first under the superior leadership of Dwight Howard, who likes to be known as Superman.
There’s plenty of reasons to watch, despite people already losing interest. I was rather disgusted when I noticed my friends on Facebook announcing that they will be doing something else when the NBA Finals start Thursday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. I avoided leaving a comment.
It’s their loss, really.
This is perhaps the greatest NBA playoffs in at least a decade. If you’ve been paying attention, there’s been a load of buzzer-beaters, nail-biters and surprises. There was LeBron’s 3-pointer that beat the Magic as the red light flashed around the basket in Game 2. There was the Chicago Bulls-Boston Celtics series that went into, like, a gazillion overtimes — with the defending champion Celtics barely getting through the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
And there was the near-shocker by the Houston Rockets, who, along with Modesto native Chuck Hayes, almost beat the Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals without their two best players in Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady.
There haven’t been too many blowouts. Instead, a bunch of unforgettable moments. And there’s no reason not to believe that the NBA Finals later this week will provide more of them.
Can Kobe finally win one without Shaq?
Can the Magic give Orlando some recognition besides having Mickey Mouse call it home?
So, it would be silly to tune out this NBA Finals.
Don’t be a poor sport.
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail csun@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.
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