The most storied rivalries in all of NBA is the one between the Lakers and Celtics. They are the two most successful teams and have dominated the scene ever since the inception of the NBA.
While it was the Lakers who dominated the initial years, it was the Boston Celtics who took control for much of the 1960’s. The two then went title for title in the 1980’s before the Lakers held a slight edge in the 2000’s.
It all started with the Minneapolis Lakers, who became the first real dynasty in basketball. Led by the ever reliable George Mikan, the Lakers reeled off 5 titles in 6 years and established themselves as the sports first true powerhouse. However, after the acquisition of Bill Russell, the Boston Celtics won a record 11 titles in 13 years, and firmly cemented their legacy as the greatest and the most successful team of any era in all American Professional sports. The Celtics and the Lakers repeatedly clashed with other during this time and the Celtics would almost always come out on top thanks mainly to their will and desire. The Lakers themselves were a supremely talented bunch at that time, with all time NBA greats such as Jerry West and Elgin Baylor in their ranks. Even after the signing of Wilt Chamberlain, the perennial finalists could not dethrone the Celtics off their perch.
This was followed by a decade of rebuilding for both teams as the 70’s did not have any single team dominating the league. But it was followed by possibly the most entertaining, dynamic and memorable decade in the history of basketball. the 1980’s saw the rejuvenation of the game of basketball, as Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Dr. J and Michael Jordan took the game to a global level. The two dominant teams of this time were once again the Lakers and the Celtics. They were so dominant that either one of these two teams played in every final of the decade and would win 8 out of a possible 10 titles. But once the two greats retired, both teams had a barren time, more so for the Celtics than the Lakers.
The Lakers would once again reign supreme with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant winning three titles in a row. The Celtics have only won a single title since the 80’s, whereas the Lakers have added 5. In the grand scheme of things, the Celtics still lead the NBA with 17 titles, bu the Lakers are not far too behind with 16. Although the highlights of the 60’s and the 80’s can never be surpassed, the recent battles at the end of the 2000’s went some way to satiating the appetite of NBA fans. Perhaps the biggest draw for this rivalry is the fact that the two teams are based in different conferences and as a result whenever they meet it is for the biggest prize in the game. With limited regular season meetings, the Finals have a added sense of excitement. Add to this the fact that some of the greatest legends of the game have represented these two storied franchises. Some of the sports most famous moments have come from these two clubs and they continue the lead the charge for the NBA.
Photo by Adam Pieniazek
Photo by Shane Keaney