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May 20, 2008|JERRY CROWE

It has been 21 years since the Lakers and Boston Celtics last met in the NBA Finals, but not nearly so long since both reached the conference finals. . . .

In 2002, Shaquille O'Neal and the Lakers crushed the New Jersey Nets in the championship series after Jason Kidd and the Nets eliminated Paul Pierce, Antoine Walker and the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals. . . .

Kevin Garnett and these Celtics, the first team in more than 30 years to reach the conference finals without winning a postseason road game, conceivably could go 0-12 on the road in the playoffs and still win their 17th championship. . . .

They lost only 16 games, home and away, during the regular season. . . .

No team, by the way, has won an NBA championship without winning a road playoff game, even when the playoffs were more compressed. . . .

Twenty years ago, Magic Johnson and the Lakers lost seven of 10 road games in the playoffs and were 15-9 overall, making them the losingest champion in NBA history in terms of playoff losses, according to STATS LLC. . . .

The Celtics' 19-5 record in Game 7 appearances, most Lakers fans probably already know, includes a 4-0 record against the Lakers. . . .

Look-alikes: Anderson Varejao of the Cleveland Cavaliers and villainous "Sideshow Bob" Terwilliger of "The Simpsons." . . .

In a holy hoop trinity that Kobe Bryant could reasonably match over the next 3 1/2 months, Michael Jordan in 1992 was the NBA's most valuable player, the NBA Finals MVP and a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic basketball team. . . .

You get the sense that LeBron James could be in a similar position four years from now, especially if he's playing for the New York Knicks. . . .

Tiger Woods, who has produced his share of spine-tingling moments on the golf course, tells Golf Digest that the greatest sporting event he ever attended as a fan was a college basketball game. . . .

Involving Stanford, of course. . . .

Says Woods, who memorably leapt out of his seat after Casey Jacobsen's jump shot gave the third-ranked Cardinal an 84-83 victory over top-ranked Duke in the Pete Newell Challenge at Oakland in December 2000, "I was sitting courtside, and I think that's the highest I ever jumped." . . .

The Dodgers should release a CD of Vin Scully's greatest calls. . . .

Since 1972, excluding the strike-shortened 1981 season, the Dodgers' home run leader has never failed to hit at least 20, but it could happen this year. . . .

Through 44 games, Rafael Furcal leads with five. . . .

Mike Napoli and the Angels have hit 41 home runs, the Dodgers 31. . . .

David Beckham showed off a saltier side Sunday, engaging in a shoving match with Adrian Serioux after the FC Dallas defender tackled him, and later blowing kisses toward the Canadian after Serioux was ejected. . . .

With a ballyhooed recruiting class on the way, touted big man and former Louisiana State signee J'Mison Morgan all but signed on to enhance it, Alex Stepheson possibly transferring in from North Carolina and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Josh Shipp probably returning after exploring their NBA options, UCLA basketball Coach Ben Howland seems to have rebuilt his roster in short order. . . .

Bill Belichick's role in Spygate has put New England Patriots fans on the defensive, the Boston Globe's Bob Ryan notes, "for the rest of their lives." . . .

Maybe it's better the Patriots lost in the Super Bowl. . . .

Tony Romo escorted Jessica Simpson to Ashlee Simpson's backyard wedding Saturday in Encino, but gossips report that the quarterback and the pop star have split, news that presumably will be celebrated in Dallas. . . .

Mario Lemieux needed seven seasons to take the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup finals, but Sidney Crosby got there in three. . . .

Wayne Gretzky reached the finals in his fourth season. . . .

Sparks co-owner Carla Christofferson, engaged to be married to singer-songwriter Adam Shell and perhaps also envisioning another type of ring ceremony after the WNBA debut of Candace Parker, has revealed in recent interviews that she previously dated a more prominent musician: Eddie Van Halen. . . .

The former Miss North Dakota told the New York Times that impetus from the rocker led her and Kathy Goodman to buy the team from Jerry Buss. . . .

Van Halen fans might say it prompted them to jump.

--

jerome.crowe@latimes.com

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