The LA Lakers are arguably the most popular NBA team in the world. NBA legends like Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and LeBron James have played for the Los Angeles based franchise. Naturally, the LA Lakers have made a few rivals on the way to become the biggest team in the NBA.In this article, we will take a look at the 5 biggest rivals of the LA Lakers.
Ranking 5 biggest rivals of the LA Lakers-
#1- Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics-LA Lakers rivalry has been going on for decades. It is the biggest rivalry in the NBA as it started in the 60s and will continue to go on. The Lakers and the Celtics have met in the NBA finals a record 12 times, with Boston dominating their Western Conference rivals with 9 wins.
From the Bill Russell-Jerry West rivalry in the 60s to the Magic-Bird duel in the 80s, the LA Lakers- Celtics matchup remains one of the biggest stories in the NBA. Even the Kobe Bryant era Lakers met the Boston Celtics in the NBA finals twice, with both teams sharing spoils at 1-1.
#2- San Antonio Spurs
To put the Spurs-Lakers dominance in the NBA in terms of statistics, the from 1999 to 2011, 11 out of the 12 NBA Finals included one of the teams.
The rivalry ensued between the two teams in the early 2000s when they continuously faced each other in the western conference finals. The winner went on to win the NBA championship on every occasion.
The players involved went on to retire as NBA legends, with Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant featuring for the Lakers and Tim Duncan and Tony Parker for the Spurs. The coaching departments were no less, with the teams having 2 of the arguably greatest NBA coaches of all time in Gregg Popovich and Phil Jackson. Spurs intense rivalry with them in the 2000s makes them one of the 5 biggest rivals of the LA Lakers.
#3- Philadelphia 76ers
After the Boston Celtics, one team that the LA Lakers faced quite often were the Philadelphia 76ers. The 2 teams had an intense rivalry in the 80s. The Lakers and Sixers met each other in the NBA Finals three times in four years from 1980 through 1983.
The rivalry revived in 2001 when the Kobe Bryant-Shaquille O'Neal led LA Lakers faced an underdog Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA finals. Allen Iverson led 76ers were the only team to win a game against the Lakers in the postseason that year.
#4- Sacramento Kings
The rivalry began in the early 2000s with the Kings facing the Lakers in 2002 Western Conference finals. A series infamous for bad refereeing and Kings' gritty performance, the Lakers came back from a 3-2 disadvantage against their western conference rivals. The crucial game seven went to overtime in which Shaq took over the game and ensured that the Lakers won a third NBA championship in a row. The hard fought playoff series in the 2000s makes them one of the 5 biggest rivals of the LA Lakers.
#5- Phoenix Suns
A huge rivalry in the mid-2000s, the Steve Nash led Phoenix Suns dominated the LA Lakers as they knocked them out in the first round of playoffs for 2 straight years. The LA Lakers were a team which was trying to rebuild after Shaquille O'Neal's departure and could not compete with a Phoenix Suns squad which was in it's prime.
However, the LA Lakers finally got their revenge in 2010, when the two teams faced off in the 2010 Western Conference Finals. The Lakers prevailed over their rivals 4-2, thanks to incredible performances from Kobe Bryant.Published 04 Sep 2020, 23:05 IST