It is a great time to be an NBA fan right about now. It’s June, summer is here, and the NBA Finals are in town. Luckily for us, this year it’s not just your ordinary Finals, this year we have something special. The greatest rivalry in sports history is renewed, as the Los Angeles Lakers are in the process of defending their title against the Boston Celtics.
The year was 1959, the first time these two teams met in the finals, the Minneapolis Lakers were swept by the Boston Celtics in 4 games. After the 1960 season, The Lakers would move to Los Angeles becoming the first west coast team of the NBA. The Lakers and Celtics would face off in the finals six times during the 1960s, with Boston winning all six of them. This only installed further hatred between the two teams, and so the storied rivalry was born.
L.A. and Boston would meet in the NBA finals again during the 1980s, This time the Lakers were the favorites behind flamboyant characters like James Worthy and Michael Cooper, their charismatic point guard Earvin “Magic” Johnson and the resilient Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Boston, who was labeled a “blue-collar” team with no flash but effortless and talented nonetheless, was led by Larry Bird. The Lakers would receive the name “Showtime” by the public and media, referring to their flashy and fast-paced style of play. L.A. would play Boston in the finals three times during the 80s, winning two of those three.
The “Showtime” Lakers would become the face of the NBA during the 80s and would set the table for what is known today in the NBA as the fast-break offense.
It took 21 years for the Lakers and Celtics to meet in the finals again, In 2008 the Boston Celtics led by the “Big Three,” Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen outmuscled Kobe Bryant and Lakers to win the series in six games. The Lakers would return to the NBA Finals the following year to beat the Orlando Magic.
Which leads us to this year, the 2010 NBA Finals are underway with the Lakers and Celtics even at 2-2, game five will be on Sunday, in Boston.
With the finals turning into a best of three games series, it is sure to have an exciting finish. My prediction, Lakers in six, in a series that looks to go down as one for the ages.
On a side note, I’d like to talk a little on the fan’s perspective of the Boston vs. L.A. rivalry. See, when these two teams meet It is more than just a battle between two teams, It is a battle between the two cities. That’s what makes the rivalry so special, in no other rivalry is their a case where the fans get so involved.
It’s as if the fans from both sides view the team as a representation of them, as a city. Living in Los Angeles, I have experienced this current saga of the rivalry first hand and I got to tell you, it’s felt like I’ve been part of something big, as if I’ve been part of history.
One last thing I’d like to clear up, there’s a big misconception going around about the L.A. fan, Celtic shooting guard and L.A. native Paul Pierce was quoted saying,
“The Boston fan is more knowledgeable about basketball than the L.A. fan,” Pierce said.
A statement I do not agree with, though he is entitled to his own opinion.
Boston looks at us, the L.A. fan, as Hollywood, a group of wannabe actors that only care about the glamour and fame of the circumstance and know nothing about basketball. Big mistake to think that Boston, people from our own town question our team more than people from Boston question theirs.
We are students of the game, we love our team but we question it when we need too, because we study them to make them better in our own little way and we follow them everywhere they go. Just like Boston fans take pride in their city, we take pride in ours as well.
So just a thought on how deep this rivalry goes and to let everyone know that we in L.A. are not just a group of bandwagons.