DAR Sports: NBA Classic Rivalries: Lakers vs Celtics

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal
-The NBA has had a number of great rivalries over the years. Perhaps none greater than the bitter and classic battle between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. While both teams over the years have done battle in the some of the most brutal series and matches, they both have a great history as franchises. The battle started back in the 60s, when the Lakers would come up short in numerous Finals during the decade. The Celtics were the dominant team of the 60s and it's no surprise that the Lakers were right there with them. This was the huge Bill Russell era of the NBA and while the Lakers never managed to get any victory over this Celtics team, the Jerry West and Elgin Baylor led Lakers always put up a damn good fight. After the 60s rivalry died down some, we got treated to the two teams once again asserting dominance in the 80's. The 60s were dominated by the Celtics, but the Lakers would be the more dominant franchise during the decade, as they would amass 5 championships over the 10 year period. The 76ers and the Pistons would win a title during this decade, and the Celtics would end up winning the other 3. The East was more dominant as an entire conference, but the Lakers controlled the West.

As the 80's got to the midway point, we were treated to a big meeting between the two franchises for the first time in 15 years in the NBA Finals. 1984. What more could you want right? The Celtics with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, and their whole amazing roster leading the East. The Lakers with Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Bob McAdoo and James Worthy, along with the rest of the Showtime crew. This battle would be one of their best, as the Celtics would win the championship in an epic 7 game series. The Lakers took game 1, lost game 2, won game 3, lost games 4 and 5, and forced a game 7 with a game 6 win. The stakes were high, and the Celtics managed to pull out the big victory, as they would garner their 2nd championship of the decade. In great drama, the two teams would reunite for another classic Finals series the following year.

This series was a little bit different than the previous year. The Lakers were on a mission. The 1985 NBA Finals saw the Lakers come back with a mission, and that mission would be fulfilled. After losing game 1, the Lakers would come back and take games 2 and 3. The Celtics fought back and captured game 4, but it was their last moment of success in the series. After taking a 3-2 lead following a game 5 win, the Lakers brought the title back to LA with a game 6 win. They were the two best teams in the NBA and they were doing battle heavily. After the 1984 and 1985 Finals, the Celtics would go back to the Finals in 1986 for the third straight time and end up winning the championship. The Lakers were not there, but rather the Houston Rockets, who put up a great battle, but still came up short. After this, one had to wonder if the Lakers could make it back to the Finals and could the Celtics repeat. The answer to these questions are simple: Yes and No.

1987 is a year we just discussed in the terms of hip hop on the site of course. It's also the year that one of the most iconic NBA Finals series took place, as it was the last meeting between the two teams in the Finals for 21 years. Unlike their previous meetings in the 60s, the Celtics didn't dominate this time, and the Lakers would cruise to their 4th championship of the decade by winning in 6 games. The Lakers were firmly in control of this series however, as they took a nice 2-0 lead in convincing fashion, before losing game 3. A game winning shot from Magic Johnson in game 4 put the Lakers up 3-1 and it was all she wrote after that. I must say however that the game 4 drama is the stuff that great NBA is made of. After a Larry Bird three pointer put the Celtics up by two, Kareem was fouled and ended up making one of two free throws. After a big turnover, the Lakers had the ball again and Magic would score to put them up by one. After a tough miss from Bird, the Lakers won and had momentum. This would be the beginning of the end. A game 5 win would prolong the inevitable, but in game 6, the Lakers would soundly defeat the Celtics and put an end to the rivalry for the next 2 decades.

That's where I'll stop in this intro. There's more things to discuss in the rivalry and I'll get to my feelings on those in the outro. For now, let's hear the team and their perspective. Matt is a Lakers fan I believe, and Melvin is a Celtics fan. This should be interesting.

Lakers/Celtics. It just sounds right and through the years of the NBA, the rivalry has been the pinnacle of everything. The amount of legends that spews from both sides that’s clashed over the years is amazing. Jerry West, Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Magic Johnson, Elgin Baylor, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, the list goes on and on. As a Lakers fan, I knew about the history the Lakers and Celtics had before I was born when the Showtime Lakers would run into the tough Celtics teams with Bird, McHale, and Parish, but through the 90’s, both teams were more in a transition stage, early and mid 2000’s the Lakers were winning titles and were more consistent contenders than the Celtics were. 2008-2012, the Rivalry renewed when the two met in two finals appearances and were both the top teams in the NBA.

One of my favorite moments from the Lakers-Celtics rivalry would obviously be Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals. I remember being at a bar in Santa Monica that night for the game. Every bar in LA that night was filled to capacity. Lakers were down at halftime and a lot of us were wondering if the Celtics were just going to take it to us on our own floor. In the 2nd half, the Lakers would roar back and win that game. Being in that bar was like being inside of Staples Center and when the final buzzer went off with the Lakers on the winning side, it was just pure excitement. After losing to them in 2008, it was like that weight was finally of the shoulders of L.A. and for that one night the city stopped to celebrate. That's what I remember about that rivalry the most.

The Celtics-Lakers rivalry is the greatest in all of basketball. The two greatest franchises of all time in that particular sport having a rivalry? You rarely see that. There has been in the past other than basketball, but hasn't lasted. Is there a Steelers-Cowboys rivalry anymore? Yankees-Cardinals rivalry ever? No. The history that comes with these two franchises, my Celtics, and the trash Lakers, is very rich. Legends, titles, legendary coaches, two of the oldest franchises in the NBA. It's a fairytale rivalry. These two teams have met in the NBA Finals plenty of times. They have met a total of 12 times in the NBA Finals, with the Celtics winning 9 of those meetings. Lakers won 3 of them. It was heavily intense during the 80's, with the showtime Lakers, and a great Celtics squad. Larry Bird & Magic Johnson competing at the highest level? What's better than that?

The 1985 NBA Finals & 2010 NBA Finals match ups between these 2 teams are considered to be the best, as it is believed these two teams competed the best in these 2 series match ups. With the showtime Lakers vs. Larry Bird's Celtics, and Kobe Bryant vs. Boston's Big 3. Very entertaining Finals match ups. One of the greatest comebacks of all time happened between these 2 teams. 2008 NBA Finals game 4. Down by over 20 points, the Celtics marched their way to victory in the 2nd half, taking a 3-1 series lead in the Finals. Also, Kobe made his mark on the NBA, winning his 5th ring in the 2010 NBA Finals against the veteran Celtics, ensuring he now has more than his former Lakers teammate during the 1996-2004 years, Shaquille O'Neal. Some great moments have happened between these two storied teams, and that's what makes this rivalry the best in basketball. Not the Celtics-Sixers. Not the Knicks-Bulls. Not the Lakers-Kings. The Celtics-Lakers rivalry is the best in NBA history. And it's not close.

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal
-That's right. This is the greatest rivalry in NBA history and the final chapter of it (so far) was epic. Kobe and his Lakers. Pierce, Ray Allen, and KG. 2008 Finals, they stopped the big concept of a Kobe vs Lebron Finals, and the Celtics took the championship. The Celtics truly messed up the stellar MVP season for Kobe by stopping his title chances. Regardless, in a storybook ending, Kobe would exact his revenge in that epic 7 game series in 2010 to secure his back to back championships and some redemption. The series was up and down and one of the greatest series I've ever witnessed as Kobe willed his team back from a 3-2 deficit. This final chapter was just another confirmation that this is the greatest rivalry in the history of the NBA.

Will this rivalry pick up again In the future with the newer squads? Who knows. It doesn't seem likely, but if the Lakers can get back into playoff contention, this rivalry can continue for the next generation. Until then, we'll reflect on the history.



Popular Posts