131-92 is seared into the psyche of all Lakerdom. Nor let us forget the game 4 collapse. No doubt, then, the purple will be seeking some payback. But will their desire for revenge play a role in the outcome of the Finals?
To answer that question, let's first look back at the 2008-09 regular season match-ups between the green and purple. These games were important because they were the first time the teams played since the Celtics had humiliated the Fakers the previous June. If revenge would ever decide the outcome of a basketball contest, one would think it would have been those two games.
Yet both games were up for grabs in the final minutes. One game was tied with three minutes to go. The other game went into OT. The Lakers won both games, to be sure. But you'd think if revenge were to have played a role, it would have played a bigger role than that. The Lakers wanted to win those games more. But wanting to win a game to salvage some self-respect and then winning only by a small margin is a little different than administering a beating out of revenge.
This year's Lakers team has a championship of their own. They had an up and down regular season, and didn't face much competition during the Western Conference playoffs. So will they all sit down and watch the 2008 Finals to get themselves riled up? Will it matter?
In the end, the 2010 NBA Finals will be decided much as the 2008 Finals were. Can the Lakers withstand the physical play of the Celtics big men? Can anyone guard Rondo? Will the Celtics defense be able to stop Kobe? Who will rebound, get the loose balls, and execute when it counts?
I don't see revenge helping the purple much on these fronts.