Skip to main content

Something about the Boston Celtics squaring off against the Los Angeles Lakers still gets Cedric Maxwell fired up. Maxwell played eight seasons with the Celtics and is now the team’s radio color man.

Maxwell played during a time when the Celtics and Lakers were bitter rivals. During the 1980s, the rivalry was the biggest in all of sports. Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson highlighted those heated matchups that saw the teams square off in the NBA Finals three times in the decade. Maxwell played a significant role in that rivalry in the early part of the ’80s and still gets fired up when they meet these days.

Cedric Maxwell came up big against the LA Lakers in the 1984 NBA Finals

Cedric Maxwell of the Boston Celtics in action against the Washington Bullets during an NBA game circa 1981 at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland. | Focus on Sport/Getty Images.

The Celtics and Lakers met in the 1984 Finals for the first of three championship-round meetings in the decade. The Lakers dominated play through the first three games but only held a 2-1 series lead. Gerald Henderson’s steal in Game 2 provided the Celtics with an improbable come-from-behind win.

In Game 4, the Celtics trailed 76-70 before Kevin McHale clotheslined Kurt Rambis, who was heading in for a layup. Benches cleared, but that seemed to be the turning point in the series. The Celtics got physical. The Lakers got rattled.

In Game 6, Lakers forward James Worthy retaliated for McHale’s hard foul by shoving Maxwell from behind as he went in for a layup. Los Angeles won that game, sending the series to a deciding Game 7 in Boston. That prompted Maxwell to tell his team to get on his back for Game 7. He delivered.

“In Game 6 out in LA, I’m going in for a layup, and James Worthy does a cardinal sin that you never do,” Maxwell said in a video posted by NBA History & Legends on CLNS. “I remember walking out, thinking, ‘I’m gonna get his ass. I’m gonna get him.

“It was in the locker room, and Larry was in there, and ML (Carr), and everybody was sitting there talking, and I said, ‘Don’t you worry. Y’all ain’t got to worry. Y’all get on my back. I’m gonna win this damn championship for you,’” he said.

Maxwell went out and scored a team-high 24 points and added eight rebounds as the Celtics closed out the series with a 111-102 victory.

Maxwell hyped up for Tuesday’s Celtics vs. Lakers matchup

The Celtics ride a two-game losing streak of the season into Tuesday’s matchup with the Lakers after getting pummeled by the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday. The meeting with the Lakers already has Maxwell taking about Worthy again.

Speaking on his Cedric Maxwell Podcast before Monday’s game with the Clippers, Maxwell’s focus was already on the Lakers.

“They have these last two games (of their six-game road trip) here in Los Angeles,” Maxwell said. “You know what that means: James Worthy, we’re coming to get your ass. Coming to get you, big dog.

“It should be good. The Lakers get an advantage because it’s the second half of a back-to-back. On top of that, the Celtics are playing the last game of a six-game road trip. That makes it really tough. Those get-away games at the end, trying to get back home. The team is tired, tired of being on the road. If there is a team that you’re going to get up for it would be LA — LeBron, Westbrook, Anthony Davis. This team, hopefully, you get up for.”

Despite the last two losses, the Celtics still own the best record in basketball at 21-7. The Lakers have struggled from the outset and sit at 11-15.

“I believe the Celtics are the last team the Lakers want to see come into their building,” Maxwell said. “It could easily get ugly, and they could get blown out of the water because the Celtics are that good.

“The Lakers talk about their defense improving, Anthony Davis playing well. Their defense better be top-notch. If Brown and Tatum have those kind of games and get the ancillary pieces playing well, it could be a long night for the Lakers.”