Back in the 1980s, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics were one of the greatest rivalries ever seen in the NBA.
Kareem Abdul “The Player Formerly Known as Lew Alcindor” Jabbar, Earvin “Magic” Johnson led the Lakers. For the Celtics, Larry Bird, Danny Ainge, Kevin “Black Hole” McHale and Robert “Get Me To The Church On Time” Parish.
The Celtics and the Lakers have met in the NBA Finals between the Eastern and Western Conferences 12 times, beginning in 1959. The Celtics won that year, as they did in 1962, 1963, 1965, 1968, 1969 and 1984.
The Lakers won the next two times the teams met, in 1985 and 1987.
With the retirements of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird in the early 1990s, the rivalry cooled somewhat, as both teams went mildly moribund and were unable to attain the level of dominance that was ongoing in year prior. They did have a brier resurrection in 2008, when the Celtics won and 2010, when the Kobe Bryant-led Lakers won the championship.
That rivalry is being compared to the briefer, but nonetheless just as intense one that now exists between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
That rivalry got underway at the start of the 2014 – 2015 NBA season, when LeBron James, tired of ruling in Miami, returned to Cleveland amidst much fanfare. The expectation was that he would lead the Cavaliers to Laker or Celtic-like levels, but in the Western Conference, the Warriors surprised everyone. They had as their primary rival in the West the San Antonio Spurs that won the championship thanks largely to David “Admiral” Robinson and Tim Duncan.
The Golden State Warriors eliminated the Spurs from the finals in 2014 – 2015, with much of the credit going to new Coach Steve Kerr, who learned his winning ways with the Chicago Bulls when he played with the incomparable Michael Jordan.