By: Slam

The NBA Finals tip-off tonight in sunny Los Angeles, California, where the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers will duel out a seven game series.  The winner will have won 2 championships in the last 3 years and will start a debate across sports talk radio stations everywhere as to whether the winning team should be referred to as a dynasty.  Turn on any sports website and you’ll here rivalry renewed or can the Big 3 stop Kobe, but lets throw some international lenses on for a second.  Here are how the international players in this series will swing the results.

Los Angeles Lakers

Paul Gasol

The power forward for the Lakers has had a very nice playoff run, averaging a double-double.  Gasol is the 2nd best player on the Lakers after Kob Bryant and will be called upon to be the anchor in the middle for LA.  The problems that could arise for the Spaniard is that while at times he can look unstoppable in the post with his King Midas like touch and smoothness comparable to your favorite vodka, at times he can also fade out of games.  Gasol is not great at taking the team on his shoulders but instead thrives when all cylinders are clicking and then he becomes fully in-sync with the game.  The other straw against Pau is that 2 years ago when LA lost to Boston in the Finals he put up an unimpressive 15 point and 8 rebound performance in 6 games.  The Lakers have had 2 more years to jell since then and they seem more confident this time around.  For Pau to succeed he can’t back down to the menacing stares of Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnett, but instead go right at them.  He is by far the most skilled post player in this finals and if he can get some easy shots early in games then he can make himself close to impossible to defend.  Don’t be afraid to knock someone down on defense either Pau, GET FIERCE!

Sasha Vujacic

I have done such a great job through this article of being unbiased in my viewpoint on this series, but I am at heart a passionate Celtics fan.  I am going to put this aside during my assessment of Vujacic, even though I truly despise him.  Sasha was one of the few players on the Lakers in 2008 who actually was able to get under some Celtics player’s skins and disrupt the team a little bit.  The problem was he couldn’t back up his attitude and mouth with much production.  Besides one 20 point game, his shooting was really off the whole series.  Vujacic averaged almost 9 points that year for LA, but has been in Phil Jackson’s doghouse for most the year and didn’t crack 3 a game this year.  His 1st minutes in the playoffs came in the last 2 games against Phoenix where he and fellow Slovenian Goran Dragic sparked up some heated play against each other.  He’ll be brought in against the Celtics to try and spice things up sometimes, start a fire if the team is going through the motions, and if he’s on that night then maybe disrupt a veteran heavy Celtics team.  Let’s be real though, if you here about him being taken hostage and kept locked up somewhere in New Hampshire I can give you all a guess on who a suspect might be.

DJ Mbenga

I hope DJ has his towel waving hand, gatorade cups filled for starters, and loud screams ready for that 10th seat on the bench during the finals.  The Zaire native will only play in this series if Andrew Bynum can get up and down the floor solely by crawling (actually possible) or if the Lakers need someone to shut down Brian Scalabrine in a blowout.

Boston Celtics

We live in a sad world where the Celtics have no international players on their roster and it was hard to find anyone in the whole organization not from the USA.  The closest thing seems to be that Brian Scalabrine looks like he is of Irish descent, so we’ll say that the luck of the Irish should help the Celtics get a victory in this series.


Even though LA has the great advantage of having international players on their team, but it is not enough.  The Lakers look like the more talented team, but they don’t have the right players to take down Boston.  Boston is too tough, has more big man depth, and the toughest player in this series to guard after Kobe is going to be Rajon Rondo.  The Celtics win title number 18 and I can sleep easy knowing that Boston is still the NBA’s greatest franchise.