At the beginning of the NBA playoffs, as the teams with the big-name players (particularly the Mavericks and then the Suns) went home early, I was predicting a pretty ho-hum finals.
I was wrong.
What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is the classic battle of Man vs. Machine.
The Man, of course, is LeBron James, who has single-handedly carried the Cinderella Cleveland Cavaliers to the Finals. There's a little something of a supporting cast, like rookie Daniel Gibson, who had the game of his pro career in the final victory over Detroit in the Eastern Conference finals. But everyone understands that the Cavs will go just as far as James can lug them.
The Machine in our little morality play is San Antonio, which has won two of the last four Larry O'Brien Trophies (and another back in 1998-99). Both talented and methodical, the Spurs have any number of weapons -- Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Plus, there's Robert Horry, who was re-nicknamed from "Big Shot Rob" to "Cheap Shot Rob" for his mugging of Steve Nash in the series against Phoenix. The player who will shadow LeBron is Bruce Bowen, the Spurs' defensive specialist and a guy who has been known to mix it up to get the job done.
Oddsmakers have the Spurs 7 1/2-point favorites tonight. But public sentiment will be with the Cavaliers. This is everything the NBA could have hoped for.