Celtics and Lakers: a historical rivalry that has lost sight of the ring

The two most successful franchises in the NBA have not won a title since 2010, when they met in the Finals before starting a reconstruction that does not end to see the light.


Celtics and Lakers. Boston and Los Angeles. The greatest rivalry in the history of the NBA. The two most lauded franchises. Two teams and two different cultures without which the American League could not be understood. Two sets that have starred, both together and separately, crucial moments in American sport and that have transcended beyond their borders being famous throughout the world.

Today, both Angelenos and Bostonians live from their past. They can not make it from their present: they have been 9 years without winning the ring, a whole world for two franchises that total 33 championships. 17 for the Celtics, historical leaders, for the 16 of the purple and gold, who add more Finals than anyone (31 appearances) .

The crisis, therefore, is historic for them, and the NBA only lived a similar drought of their two best teams between 1988 and 2000. 11 seasons went from one title to another (both for the Lakers) in which was the longest time in which neither of the two franchises was without winning the NBA. The golden age of Michael Jordan coincided with the disappearance of the map of two sets that came to dominate the 90.

A rivalry set in the 60

The history of both teams has marked much of the League. When the Lakers were in Minneapolis they achieved their first major dynasty between the late 40s and the early 50s. Years later, the arrival of Bill Russell marked a before and after. His Celtics dominated the NBA as no one has done before: 11 rings in 13 years that left the pivot as the man with more championships in history without anyone has managed to even approach those figures in modern basketball. At that time the first vestiges of true rivalry were seen; 7 of those 11 titles were against the Angelenos (6 in the 1960s), who were beaten again and again by the Bostonians.

Specially hard was the 1969 final: the last ring of the Russell era, when the star acted as a coach-player. Se reached the seventh, which was played in the Forum, field of Angelenos at that time. The owner of the team at that time, Jack Kent Cooke, brought balloons and confetti to the track to celebrate the hypothetical title, something that angered Jerry West.

The greens prevailed by 106-108 despite the fact that the locals even had his recent signing, Wilt Chamberlain, on the team. West, who scored 42 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists, was selected as the MVP of the Finals in the first time that the award was offered. It has been the only occasion in which the prize went to a member of the losing team. The Lakers, who missed 19 free throws, found no excuse for the loss. Russell announced his retirement 3 months later, while West returned to stay at the doors the following year against the Knicks (also in seven games) before achieving his longed for ring in 1972, when the Hollywood ended an 18-year streak without winning and they obtained the first title in California after leaving Minneapolis (something that did in 1960) .

Magic and Bird revitalize the rivalry and the NBA

The years 70 were of transition. Both teams added championships (the 72 Lakers and two more the Celtics), but the decade meant the rise of other teams like the Knicks and the decline in television fees and interest in the league. In 1979, Magic Johnson was chosen in first place in the draft. Larry Bird had been chosen in the sixth of the previous year, although I wait a season before taking the jump. The base, chosen Rookie of the Year above the eaves, was forced to put itself in center in the Finals before the Sixers after the injury of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the fifth encounter. The result. 42 + 15 + 7, MVP of the Finals, ring, and start of a new era.

The rivalry of the 80 is, by proximity, the most remembered by fans. In this decade, Lakers and Celtics dominated the competition and established some duels between both teams in which cultures, dynasties and playing styles were opposed. The Showtime of the Riley Lakers, fast and fun, clashed with the tactical and intelligent basketball of the Garden. As if that were not enough, the Angelenos had a squad mostly made up of black players, while the greens were white. Even in Magic and Larry, great friends, there were different characters and ways of seeing life. The base was extroverted, happy and prone to enjoyment, while the wing was cold, magnetic and reserved. Both players and both templates put the NBA back on the map and the league was revitalized thanks to one of the most iconic stages that has ever lived.

The decade was forged with 5 championships for lLakers and 3 for the Celtics. They played 4 consecutive finals between them (from 1984 to 1987) with two for each, being the 85 the first time in history in which the Angelenos were imposed. The 1988 ring was the last one of the two teams won, when Los Angeles won 4-3 to the Pistons. Then they came to the end of '89 and the end of '91. And then nothing. 11 years without championships of any of the two franchises and 9 without reaching the round in which the title is decided. The biggest crisis the rivalry has experienced, individually or not ... until now.

The 2000s and a new drought that seems to have no end

The twenty-first century saw both franchises recover. The arrival of Phil Jackson to the Lakers gave the franchise its first ring in 11 years with Shaq and Kobe as protagonists. In 2002 the Celtcis reached the Eastern finals, but they were one step away from the pass (they fell 4-2 against the Nets) and left the fans with the desire to see a new episode of the rivalry. Those Celtics had Antoine Walker in the squad ... and Paul Pierce, which has been his last big symbol.

You did it in 2008, when both teams reached the Finals. The Celtics, with the aforementioned Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen as leaders. It was the first time they had faced each other since 1987. Y was the first ring for the Celtics since 1986, after prevailing 4-2 and ending the biggest drought in its history. The Lakers took revenge in 2010. After winning the championship the previous year, they won in a legendary seventh game at Staples. It was the first time they imposed themselves in this encounter. The direct confrontations have traditionally been dominated by the Bostonians.

This is where both franchises came from. The Angelenos played the playoffs three times more consecutively before running out of them in the next six seasons. Before that, they had only missed the appointment five times in all of history, something that magnifies the spectacular crisis they are experiencing. After the unsuccessful moves of recent times, they seem to have made a competitive team for the next season with the signing of Anthony Davis, who join LeBron James. We will see if this allows the Angelenos to fight for the ring in the next year, At the moment they have not managed to do it even with the presence of El Rey, who has gone from playing 8 consecutive finals to be without qualifying for the title.

The Celtics by they have lived a different story and have been closer to the championship. In 2012 they were able to get it in the last big opportunity of the Doc Rivers project, when Garnett and company gave their last throes. Danny Ainge, knowing that they did not give for more, put his head in front of the heart and pierced in 2013 getting a radically opposite benefits to those of a Nets that were mortgaged.

Only ran out of playoffs in 2014, and were at a Pass of the Finals in 2018 (the previous year also sneaked into the last round of the East), but LeBron prevented it. With Kyrie things have not gone well and they have taken a step back, but Brad Stevens' project is still valid and it will be necessary to see how they work now with Kemba in the team and after losing several players, including Irving himself.

One way or another, the time for both ends. The drought continues its course, and although the Lakers have come reinforced (apparently) from free agency, it is hard to think that they will be champions next year. The Celtics, who have to redirect the project, seem even farther away. They continue to see the Finals and the championship at a great distance, and are on track to match (and overcome) those 11 years of crisis of the 90s. The rivalry is diluted and the crisis is eternal. When will it end? We will see.



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