The Boston Celtics and LA Lakers Rivalry Is Still 1 of the Best in Sports

When you talk about the best rivalries in sports you may think of the New York Yankees versus the Boston Red Sox or, the Alabama Crimson Tide versus the Auburn Tigers in football,  But the best rivalry of all time might be the LA Lakers versus the Boston Celtics.

The rivalry has everything. East Coast versus West Coast, celebrity fans, and some of the most memorable games of all time.

Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell started it all

For a younger generation, the Lakers/Celtics rivalry started with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. But the rivalry truly began with Lakers center Wilt Chamberlain and Celtics center Bill Russell.

The battle between the big men was dominated by Russell, who broke Lakers fan’s hearts back in the 1960s. It wasn’t until the Lakers drafted Michigan State point guard Magic Johnson that, the tide for the Lakers against the Celtics.

The Celtics had a secret weapon themselves when they drafted Larry Bird out of Indiana State. Johnson and Bird would begin their rivalry in the 1979 NCAA tournament when the two faced each other for the national championship, according to Forbes. Magic came out on top, and it began a great rivalry between the two stars.

Even in the 21st century, the rivalry continued between the two with Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett dueling in the 2008 NBA Finals, details Basketball-Reference. The Celtics came out on top, 4-2. Kobe and the Lakers returned the favor two years later, winning the series over the Celtics in seven games for the Laker’s 16th NBA title. 

The Celtics versus Lakers in the NBA Finals

Although the Celtics lead the all-time series between the two clubs in the finals, between 1985-2010, the Lakers have won three out of the last four titles over Boston.

A lot of these games, especially back in the 1980s, were epic.

However, it wasn’t until the 1985 finals that the Lakers would finally beat the Celtics for the NBA title for the first time ever. But it wouldn’t be the last.

Although the Celtics would rebound the following year and take the title away from the Lakers, Magic’s skyhook shot in game four of the 1987 finals, all but ended Boston’s reign as one of the most dominant teams in NBA history

It would be 21 years before the Celtics and Lakers met again.

Where the Lakers/Celtics rivalry stands today

Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics goes for a layup as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers watch Bird’s shot during the 1987 NBA Championships | Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images

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It’s been 12 years since the Celtics and Lakers faced each other in the finals, but the memories linger with a new generation of players.

The Lakers and Celtics are tied in the NBA with the most titles at 17 apiece. The Lakers won their last championship with LeBron James back in 2020. But we’re sure Lakers fans would have loved to have seen their club win that title against the Celtics.

Although the names and faces have changed over the years, the rivalry hasn’t. The two teams still experience friendly hostility, which will continue for generations to come.