Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers Rivalry

Last Modified Jan 4, 2024 12:52 GMT
Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers History
Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers History


In the illustrious history of the NBA, the Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers rivalry stands as the greatest. From the iconic matchups of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson to Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce, the Lakers-Celtics rivalry is the reason why the NBA became popular. This riveting tale of East vs West, green vs gold, has produced some of the most memorable moments in NBA history.


Lakers vs Celtics is a saga woven with championships, iconic players, and moments that fans will never forget. Since the earliest days of the NBA, the Celtics and Lakers have been engaging in a battle for NBA supremacy. In this article, we delve into the captivating narrative of Celtics vs Lakers, exploring the history, the legends, and the unforgettable clashes that have left an indelible mark on the NBA landscape.


Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers History


Boston Celtics vs Minneapolis Lakers


Before the glitz and glamor of Los Angeles, the Lakers franchise was a force in Minneapolis under the leadership of Hall of Famer George Mikan and legendary head coach John Kundla.


The Minneapolis Lakers became the NBA's first dynasty, clinching titles in 1949, 1950, and a triumphant three-peat in 1952, 1953, and 1954. However, Mikan's retirement marked a shift, and a new superpower was born — the Boston Celtics. Propelled by young stars Bob Cousy and Bill Russell, the Celtics won the 1957 NBA Finals, and reached another Finals in 1958, which they lost to the Bob Pettit led St. Louis Hawks.


However, the Celtics reached the NBA Finals again in 1959. But this time, after a five-year hiatus, the Lakers also returned to the Finals, who were led by emerging superstar Elgin Baylor. The 1959 Finals was the first time the Lakers came up against the Celtics.


In a historic clash, the Boston Celtics dominated the Lakers and secured a 4-0 sweep in 1959, marking the first-ever sweep in NBA Finals history. This defeat was a pivotal moment for the previously dominant Lakers, and established a fierce rivalry with the Celtics that would unfold dramatically in the years to come.


Los Angeles Lakers vs Boston Celtics Dynasty


In 1960, the Lakers owners moved the team from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, setting the stage for a fierce rivalry with the Boston Celtics. Throughout the 1960s, both teams emerged as powerhouses in the NBA. The Boston Celtics were loaded with legendary players Bill Russell, Tom Heinsohn, John Havlicek and Sam Jones. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers featured future Hall of Famers Elgin Baylor, Jerry West and Gail Goodrich. The Celtics were led by legendary coach Red Aurbach and on the other side, Lakers were under the guidance of coach/GM Fred Schaus.


Despite the formidable roster of the Lakers, the Celtics dominated the 1960s, winning the NBA Finals every year except for 1967. The Lakers faced the Celtics in six of those Finals — 1962, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1968 and 1969. However, the Celtics emerged victorious in each of these matchups, with three series (1962, 1966, and 1969) extending to seven games.


Notably, when the Boston Celtics triumphed over the Lakers in 1966, it marked an unprecedented achievement of eight consecutive NBA championships for the Celtics. This is the longest streak in the history of any North American professional sports team to this day.


The Lakers-Celtics rivalry during the 1960s became synonymous with high-stakes, closely contested battles, exemplified by multiple seven-game series. While the Lakers did show talent and determination, the Celtics were just too good and most importantly, clutch. This era laid the foundation for a rivalry that would continue to captivate basketball enthusiasts for years to come.


1969 Finals: Heartbreaking Lakers Finals Loss


In 1968, the Lakers added Wilt Chamberlain to their roster, intensifying the personal rivalry between him and Bill Russell. With Chamberlain in the ranks alongside Jerry West and Elgin Baylor, Lakers were favorites going into the 1968/1969 season.


The Lakers dominated the Western Conference, boasting the best record. Meanwhile, the aging Celtics, with Russell and Jones in their final seasons, struggled and secured the fourth seed. Surprisingly, the Celtics still managed to upset the 76ers and the Knicks, reaching the 1969 Finals.


The Lakers had the home court advantage for the first time against the Celtics as they won the first two games of the 1969 NBA finals, only to face a determined Celtics comeback. The Finals culminated in a thrilling Game 7 at the Los Angeles Forum, where the Celtics defied expectations and emerged victorious, shattering Lakers' owner Jack Kent Cooke's premature prediction of a Lakers celebration.


Jerry West, despite being on the losing team, was named Finals MVP. This marked another heartbreaking loss for the Lakers in a decade where each of their Finals defeats came at the hands of the Celtics, leaving the Lakers without a championship throughout the 1960s.


Magic Johnsons’s “Showtime Lakers” vs Larry Bird’s “Big Three” Celtics


Both the Celtics and the Lakers experienced success in the 1970s, however, they never faced each other during that decade. It was in the the 80s when the Celtics-Lakers rivalry truly became iconic. Fueled by the intense personal competition between superstars Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, the Lakers vs Celtics rivalry reached its pinnacle.


As Magic Johnson stated, "when the new schedule would come out each year, I'd grab it and circle the Boston games. To me, it was “The Two” and then the other 80." Similarly, Bird expressed that he would start his day by checking Johnson’s box score, emphasizing his singular focus on their rivalry.


The 1980s started with the rise of the Showtime Lakers, who clinched the 1980 NBA Finals after defeating the Philadelphia 76ers. Then, just the following year, the Boston Celtics, powered by the "Big Three" of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, secured the 1981 NBA Finals, defeating the Houston Rockets.


In the 1982 Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics lost to the 76ers, missing the chance for a Finals showdown against the Lakers. However, the series proved to be memorable as Boston fans demonstrated their anger towards the Lakers. Despite losing to the Sixers, Boston fans actually rallied behind the 76ers, and started chanting "Beat L.A.!"


Despite their efforts, the 76ers still lost the 1982 NBA Finals against the Lakers who were led by new star head coach Pat Riley. Two years later in the 1984 NBA Finals, the Celtics under new head coach K.C. Jones faced the Los Angeles Lakers. This was a grueling seven-game series, with each game having an iconic moment.


In Game 4 of the series, Kevin McHale clotheslined Lakers forward Kurt Rambis, resulting in a brawl. The rest of the series saw extreme aggression from both teams, but the Celtics still emerged victorious in Game 7, thanks to Cedric Maxwell’s offensive onslaught. This win meant that the Celtics increased their Finals record against the Lakers to 8-0.


However, in 1985, the Lakers finally secured their revenge against the Celtics as they won the NBA Finals, and Lakers owner Jerry Buss famously remarked that they had removed the worst sentence from the English language — "The Lakers have never beaten the Celtics." The Lakers and Celtics again faced in the 1987 NBA Finals. This was another intensely fought series in which the Lakers emerged victorious in six games.


Lakers vs Celtics Off the Court Dynamics

Magic Johnsons’s “Showtime Lakers” vs Larry Bird’s “Big Three” Celtics rivalry in the 1980s transcended the basketball court. It symbolized larger contrasts, as many said it is the clash between the glitzy "Lakers Showtime" and the blue-collar grit of "Celtic Pride.” Their rivalry was also linked with the racial dynamics, with white fans rallying behind the Celtics and black fans appreciating the Lakers' athletic style. The city of Boston itself was divided, with black Bostonians often cheering for the Lakers against the Celtics.


Despite the racial undertones, Bird and Magic rejected these narratives, focusing solely on competing and winning. They demonstrated on a national platform how individuals from different backgrounds could compete fiercely while maintaining mutual respect.


Moreover, the NBA faced declining viewership in the 1970s, but the Celtics-Lakers rivalry in the 1980s, embodied by Bird and Magic, brought national attention to the NBA. The Game 7 in the 1984 NBA Finals between the Celtics and Lakers had a record-breaking 40 million viewers on CBS. The Celtics vs Lakers rivalry contributed significantly to the NBA's success during the decade, with the presence of either the Lakers or the Celtics in every NBA Finals series throughout the 1980s.


In conclusion, the Celtics-Lakers rivalry in the 1980s, led by Bird and Magic, was a defining chapter in NBA history. It transcended sports, symbolizing contrasts in style, culture and race. Bird and Magic's on-court battles revitalized the NBA, attracting millions of viewers and establishing the league as a cultural phenomenon. The legacy of their rivalry reshaped the NBA landscape and influenced future generations of basketball players and fans.


Rivalry Renewed: Kobe Bryant’s Lakers vs Paul Pierce’s Celtics


The NBA landscape underwent a significant transformation in the mid-2000s, setting the stage for the revival of the Celtics-Lakers rivalry. With the addition of Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett alongside Paul Pierce, the Celtics formed a new "Big Three." With emerging star Rajon Rondo, this formidable lineup propelled the Celtics to the top of the NBA during the 2007/2008 season, securing the best record and a spot in the Finals.


On the other side, the Lakers were propelled to championship contention with the mid-season acquisition of Pau Gasol. The stage was set for a long-awaited reunion between two basketball powerhouses in 2008, in which the Celtics emerged victorious in six games.


The following 2008/09 season started with talks of another Finals battle between the Lakers and Celtics. However, an injury to Kevin Garnett derailed the Celtics’ hopes of winning the title. Due to his absence, the Boston Celtics were eliminated in the 2009 Eastern Conference semifinals, and the Lakers continued their success by winning the 2009 NBA Finals.


Lakers vs Celtics: The 2010 Finals


As of 2023, the 2010 Finals between Lakers and Celtics is the last time two iconic franchises faced each other in the Finals.


The 2010 Finals was marked by several memorable moments, including standout performances from Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen's record-breaking eight 3-pointers in Game 2, and a closely contested Game 7, which became the highest-rated NBA game since Michael Jordan's second retirement in 1998.


In Game 7, Ron Artest hit a clutch 3-point dagger as the Lakers emerged victorious, securing their third Finals win against the Celtics.


Lakers vs Celtics Rivalry in Modern Era


2010 was the last time the Lakers and the Celtics faced each other in the Finals. One of the significant games occurred on February 20, 2013, as the Lakers played their first game since the passing of their long-time owner Jerry Buss, who had died two days earlier. The team paid tribute to Buss at the Staples Center before facing off against the Celtics, winning the game 113–99. The Lakers' victory coincided with Steve Nash surpassing former Lakers star Magic Johnson on the all-time NBA assist list.


Since then, the annual Celtics vs Lakers matchups have evolved into intense regular season battles as each game adds a new chapter to their storied rivalry. In 2019, ex-Celtics star Rondo delivered a game-winning shot for the Lakers against his former team.


While the dynamics of franchises have evolved over the years, the Celtics-Lakers matchups still continue to captivate fans. Since the Celtics and the Lakers, both have won 17 titles, the prospect of who will claim the 18th title adds an exciting dimension to this rivalry. Here's hoping for another epic Finals showdown between the two soon!

FAQs

A: Both franchises have won 17 NBA titles, the most in NBA history. However, as of January 2024, the Boston Celtics team is considered better than the LA Lakers.

A: The Celtics lead the all-time head-to-head with a 166-133 record against the Lakers.

A: The Lakers ended a daunting streak of eight NBA Finals losses against the Celtics by securing victory in 1985.

A: Both franchises are tied at 17 championships each.

A: The Lakers had a more successful run in the 80s, clinching five championships compared to the Celtics' three.

A: The Boston Celtics hold a 43-31 advantage against the Lakers in NBA Finals matchups. In terms of NBA Finals series, the Celtics lead with a 9-3 record against the Lakers.

Related Stories

Bill Simmons advises Celtics to pick Lebron James’ son Bronny James as an “asset” ahead of 2024 NBA draft Bill Simmons advises Celtics to pick Lebron James’ son Bronny James as an “asset” ahead of 2024 NBA draft
Bill Simmons advises Celtics to pick Lebron James’ son Bronny James as an “asset” ahead of 2024 NBA draft
"Wemby vs. Gobert vs. Alex Sarr race for future DPOTY’s": Fans gobsmacked after No.2 pick Alex Sarr blocks 3 shots in 23 seconds "Wemby vs. Gobert vs. Alex Sarr race for future DPOTY’s": Fans gobsmacked after No.2 pick Alex Sarr blocks 3 shots in 23 seconds
"Wemby vs. Gobert vs. Alex Sarr race for future DPOTY’s": Fans gobsmacked after No.2 pick Alex Sarr blocks 3 shots in 23 seconds
"I love you, bro": Jayson Tatum reveals his first words to Jaylen Brown after winning the NBA championship "I love you, bro": Jayson Tatum reveals his first words to Jaylen Brown after winning the NBA championship
"I love you, bro": Jayson Tatum reveals his first words to Jaylen Brown after winning the NBA championship
Gabrielle Union gives sneak peek into conversation between Dwyane Wade and Barack Obama Gabrielle Union gives sneak peek into conversation between Dwyane Wade and Barack Obama
Gabrielle Union gives sneak peek into conversation between Dwyane Wade and Barack Obama
"Just saw Thibs fall to his knees" - Knicks fans hilariously react to Taj Gibson signing $3.3 million deal with Charlotte Hornets "Just saw Thibs fall to his knees" - Knicks fans hilariously react to Taj Gibson signing $3.3 million deal with Charlotte Hornets
"Just saw Thibs fall to his knees" - Knicks fans hilariously react to Taj Gibson signing $3.3 million deal with Charlotte Hornets
1d
Phoenix Suns vs Golden State Warriors Prediction and Preview for 2024 NBA Summer League | July 13, 2024 Phoenix Suns vs Golden State Warriors Prediction and Preview for 2024 NBA Summer League | July 13, 2024
Phoenix Suns vs Golden State Warriors Prediction and Preview for 2024 NBA Summer League | July 13, 2024
1d
"That's Westbrook-like": NBA fans roast Bronny James after Lakers guard goes 0-for-8 from beyond the arc vs Rockets "That's Westbrook-like": NBA fans roast Bronny James after Lakers guard goes 0-for-8 from beyond the arc vs Rockets
"That's Westbrook-like": NBA fans roast Bronny James after Lakers guard goes 0-for-8 from beyond the arc vs Rockets
"We can just dye his hair" - Former Clipper Blake Griffin jokes about 'Clipped' questionable casting choice "We can just dye his hair" - Former Clipper Blake Griffin jokes about 'Clipped' questionable casting choice
"We can just dye his hair" - Former Clipper Blake Griffin jokes about 'Clipped' questionable casting choice
Is Alex Sarr playing tonight against Houston Rockets? Latest on Wizards center's status for Summer League game (July 14) Is Alex Sarr playing tonight against Houston Rockets? Latest on Wizards center's status for Summer League game (July 14)
Is Alex Sarr playing tonight against Houston Rockets? Latest on Wizards center's status for Summer League game (July 14)
22h
"Both sides were at fault" - NBA analyst dissects Klay Thompson's switch from Warriors to Mavericks "Both sides were at fault" - NBA analyst dissects Klay Thompson's switch from Warriors to Mavericks
"Both sides were at fault" - NBA analyst dissects Klay Thompson's switch from Warriors to Mavericks
1d
App download animated image Get the free App now