x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Lakers' Bynum not keen on building finals as grudge series

Fans of the Celtics had celebrated their victory by throwing rocks and other projectiles at their departing bus, and rocking it back and forth.

Andrew Bynum did not play in the 2008 NBA finals, but he remembers how it ended. Fans of the Boston Celtics celebrated their victory by throwing rocks and other projectiles at the Los Angeles Lakers' departing bus, and rocking it back and forth. "I only saw a couple of games, and it was crazy - the energy, the fans," said Bynum, who was out for the season with an injured knee. "That bus ride back to the hotel, it wasn't the greatest."

Bynum has kept that memory close, and so have most of his teammates. Although the Lakers' roster is remarkably similar to the group that lost to Boston two years ago, Bynum thinks Los Angeles might have a better shot to do the rocking this time. Unlike Kobe Bryant, who claims to have no special interest in a Celtics re-match, Bynum is thrilled this season is ending with a replay against Boston. "It's a great opportunity for us to get one back," Bynum said. "You never want to let something like that sit. I know it means a great deal [historically], but I'm more concerned about my own history."

Ron Artest, who was not with the Lakers two years ago, said his preparation did not include much on the history of the match-up. "I'm not a student," Artest said. "I just love the game. I'm not really familiar with the rivalry. I'm sure there's a lot of history, but I can't really tell you any details about it." Artest replaced Trevor Ariza on roster last summer, filling the role as their stopper - yet Ariza was also absent from the 2008 finals with an injury and the Lakers were carved up by Paul Pierce, who averaged 21.8 points, 6.3 assists and 4.5 rebounds to earn the MVP award.

Although Artest says it takes an entire team to shut down Boston's array of offensive talent, Phil Jackson, the coach, is grateful to have a clear-cut match-up for Artest, who performed well against Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City's NBA scoring champion, in the first round. "It's a huge difference for us," Jackson said. "That's a match-up that was difficult for us in the [2008] series." * AP