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The epic basketball showdown has almost arrived. Televisions and sports bars around the country will all be tuned into the NBA Finals for the classic match up of the Boston Celtics versus the Los Angeles Lakers. Both teams have experienced dramatic turnarounds this year. Key trades brought perfect complimentary players to their teams. Cover stories will talk about how Boston’s Big Three, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen, have finally reached the finals. Others will discuss how close Kobe Bryant came to abandoning the Lakers altogether. Now, he is poised to lead the Lakers to his own championship (without Shaquille O’Neal’s help).
The series is fueled by a celebrated history. Images of Bill Russell versus Elgin Baylor, John Havlicek versus Jerry West, and Larry Bird versus Magic Johnson dance through sports fans heads. The Celtics have 16 NBA titles while the Lakers spread 14 championships across seasons in Los Angeles and Minneapolis. Of the ten times they met in the finals, the Celtics won eight titles. Will the Lakers be able to challenge the Celtics as the most accomplished franchise in NBA history? A Lakers victory would allow Coach Phil Jackson to catch Celtics legend, Red Auerbach, for most championship titles.
Off the court, these two coastal cities could not be more different in style or substance. Boston evokes images of colonial America and revolutions like the Boston Tea Party. Los Angeles is associated with the young energy of Hollywood. Boston is the locus of intellectual America, with Harvard and M.I.T. leading academic breakthroughs. Los Angeles may counter with U.S.C. or Cal Tech, but the most common perception is that Boston studies, while L.A. surfs. One looks serious, the other silly.


The religious and cultural heritage informing each city also presents an intriguing contrast. From these competing coasts come America’s religious roots and America’s religious future. Puritans in Boston founded the Congregationalists. Los Angeles spawned Christian renewal movements like Fundamentalism and Pentecostalism. Boston boasts Irish Catholics while the City of the Angels expands via Central and South American Catholics. Distinctly American offshoots like Unitarianism and Transcendentalism came from Boston. Los Angeles proved fertile ground for Scientology and the Self-Realization Fellowship. Dedicated fans in both cities will be saying prayers in hopes of winning another championship.
Is there something soulful in both cities’ soil? Their loyal sports fans cherish tradition and yet welcome new additions whether they be Kevin Garnett in Boston or Pau Gasol in L.A. So which team will you be cheering for? The older, established Celtics or the “upstart” Lakers?
–written by Craig Detweiler
If you want to know who Craig Detweiler is cheering for, his new book and movie are both entitled A Purple State of Mind.

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