The Lakers vs Celtics rivalry is arguably one of the greatest in sports history. Many greats have been apart of it from players to coaches. They have met 12 times in the finals, with the Celtics holding a 9-3 advantage. That record, though, does not show the greatness that came in those series 10 of the 12 series have gone at least 6 games wand five have gone 7.
Last night, Kobe Bryant played his final game in Boston, which made me think about the rivalry itself and I realized that he is the last person on either team that was a true part of the rivalry. After Bird and Magic provided us with their magnificence in the 80’s, both teams went through difficult times in the 90’s and did not provide any classic games. The Lakers enjoyed success with Shaq and Kobe in the early 2000’s and the Celtics had relative success at the same time with Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker leading the charge. They did not meet in the finals though. The closes they came was in 2002, when the Celtics lost to the Nets in the East finals. I highly doubt that Boston would’ve had a chance in the finals though as the Nets went on to get swept in 4 games.
In the summer of 2007, the lowly Celtics had one of the best off-seasons in NBA history, acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen via trade to become an instant title favorite. At that time, the Lakers were a middle of the pack team being carried by Kobe. Midway through the season, the Lakers traded with Memphis to get Pau Gasol, therefore making them a contender as well. A low and behold, the two teams met for the first time in the finals since 1987. The Celtics would win in 6 games, but that opened to the door to a renewal of the rivalry that lasted to around 2013. In that time frame, the two teams played in some classic games and met again in the 2010 Finals, which the Lakers won in a legendary 7 game series. They could have met in the 2009 finals, had Kevin Garnett not gone down with an injury during the regular season.
Today, both teams are in rebuilding mode, but have some young talent that could potentially be building blocks for the future. Unfortunately, we as fans will have to wait a few more years for these two teams to be contenders again. They can use free agency to get talent, LA has the flair and big market while Boston has its history and tradition. We were blessed, however, with a 5-6 year period that brought back the old rivalry and really made the NBA feel right again. We can only hope that we don’t have to wait as long for the next round.