Despite all the story lines, bylines, highlights, re-runs, re-treads, and arguments pro and con about a Celtics/Lakers 2008 NBA Final, let's call it what it really is... Justified.
The Eastern Conference's #1 seed versus the Western Conference's #1 seed. Enough said.
Throughout these playoffs there have been moments of angst for both squads (maybe more anxious minutes for the Celtics, but at this point no one should be counting). But to say it is only good for the over-30 crowd who remembers this great rivalry in its prime is a bit short-sighted.
Here's the thing about the Celts/Lakers match-up that I think gets missed. It's not reliant on nostalgia alone. The NBA loves this Finals because YES, it does rope in the over 30 crowd.
But it ALSO ropes in the current generation of fans (and passive observers alike) because it features the NBA's reigning MVP (Bryant), the sports' biggest off-season storyline (the Celts Big 3), the biggest trade deadline deal that put the Lakers here (Gasol), and 2 of the longest tenured players on the teams that drafted them (Bryant/Pierce).
It is the absolute culmination of the NBA's hoped-for pedigree- history, franchise players, smart trades, and top seeds.
Really, stop angling just for the old school match-up and appreciate this a a true championship final. The NBA... where justified happens.
UPDATE: I have an on-going discussion on another website regarding the nostalgia factor versus the NBA's true ROI having a Lakers/Celtics finale. The latest argument was that today's "casual" NBA-watcher does not care about the current state of the NBA and the story's involved (that I outlined above). Thus the NBA gurus hope nostalgia drives ratings of this Finals. Here's my latest (and greatest I think) point to date... NO WAY!
Here's the thing... a casual fan today is not just some schmo that was old enough to remember 1987 (the last time these 2 teams met in the Finals).
In marketing terms, the Holy Grail is turning casual fans into avid fans (i.e., the fans that will pay for any and all things related to the sport and their team).
The NBA needs to convert this (the younger) generation's casual fan because they get a longer "shelf-life" out of that new/younger convert's discretionary dollar than they do the guy that already made up his mind in 1987.
So it definitely is about more than nostalgia. Just ask the front office brain trust of the NBA who balance the books.