- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 5, 2008

On one set of sidelines, you have Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen, Donnie Wahlberg and Manny Ramirez.

On the other set, you have Jack Nicholson and Dyan Cannon, Andy Garcia and Penny Marshall.

The Celtics meet the Lakers in the NBA finals for the first time since the ‘80s, and you can bet ABC’s suits already are planning star-studded montages.

Historically, the rivalry “was not only between two teams and two cities, but two kinds of lifestyles, two classes,” says Robert Thompson, professor of pop culture at Syracuse University. Boston’s choice of hometown heroes tends toward athletes, reflecting a tough-guy, blue-collar sensibility the city has maintained over the years.

Mr. Brady, Tedy Bruschi, and Bill Belichick - the keys to the city’s first dynasty since Larry “Legend” Bird’s back gave out 20 years ago - surely will pop up at some point. We might even get a Randy Moss sighting.

Considering that game two takes place on a Sunday when the Red Sox are in town, it’s a safe bet that a World Series hero or three also will make it to the Garden. David Ortiz is a virtual lock for the sidelines. Perhaps a youngster like Dustin Pedroia or recent no-hitter hero (and cancer survivor) Jon Lester will make it to a game.

Other than sluggers and Super Bowl ring wearers, however, Boston doesn’t have much to offer in the fame game. The real show takes place in Los Angeles, and there the focus is on glitz and glamour.

Courtside will resemble the red carpet. Model-turned-comedian Cameron Diaz is sure to be there, as is former Laker girl and current “American Idol” judge Paula Abdul. Spider-Man himself, Tobey Maguire, is another Lakers mainstay.

On the grungier side of things are Flea and Anthony Kiedis. Actors in the loosest sense (Mr. Kiedis was particularly good as Patrick Swayze’s whipping boy in “Point Break”) the duo form the heart of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The Oscars will be well-represented. Denzel Washington (1990, “Glory”; 2002, “Training Day”) will take his regular seat, wearing a New York Yankees cap, as always. (No West Coast sellout he.) Also - sunglasses on, parked behind the Celtics’ bench and barking insults in Doc Rivers’ ear - so will Jack Nicholson (1976, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”; 1984, “Terms of Endearment”; 1998, “As Good as It Gets”).

As a holdover from the ‘80s, “Nicholson helps add yet another dimension to this story,” professor Thompson says. “It’s already a great story, but this makes it even more interesting, and deep, and complex.”

If we’re lucky (and oh how the producers at ABC hope we are), Mr. Nicholson will travel with the team just as in the good old days. Few can forget Mr. Nicholson showing up in Boston in 1984 and taunting the Celtics crowd by making the universal sign for choking - only to have his Lakers give up a two-point lead with 20 seconds left in game two.

At least we know where Mr. Nicholson stands; another traveling star is something of a mystery. Leonardo DiCaprio, a Staples Center fixture for the past decade or so, has been seen around the Garden recently. Perhaps it’s an aftereffect of working on the Boston-set Martin Scorsese epic “The Departed.” Or maybe he’s just trying to catch a glimpse of ex-girlfriend Bundchen, most recently linked to Mr. Brady. Whatever the reason, there’s a chance we’ll see him on both coasts just like Mr. Nicholson.

But which team’s hat will he be wearing?

Sonny Bunch is assistant editor at the Weekly Standard.



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