NBA hopes Celtics-Lakers rivalry can respark the fans
But current finals lacks superstar matchup of Bird vs. Magic.
With the return of pro basketball's most storied rivalry in the finals, the National Basketball Association has big hopes for a rebound in fans.
Last year, the league bounced from a controversy-filled All-Star game of celebrity excess in Las Vegas to a tepid San Antonio-Cleveland championship round to a summer filled with a disgraced NBA referee's guilty plea in a gambling scandal. Fast-forward to the NBA's recent run, a remarkable turnaround that began when Commissioner David Stern celebrated the league's humanitarian efforts during an All-Star weekend in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans. It was followed by exciting playoff runs featuring, among others, the resurgent Hornets and capped by a Celtics-Lakers that continues with Game 3 Tuesday night in Los Angeles. Boston leads the series 2-0.
"I just think it's great for the league," former Celtics great Larry Bird said during a recent NBA teleconference with former Lakers rival Magic Johnson to promote the renewed battle. "It's great for basketball."
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