Byron Scott: The Boston Celtics/LA Lakers Rivalry Is the Best and Last One We’ll Ever See
Byron Scott knows a thing or two about rivalries. He was part of a heated one during his days as a guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers and Boston Celtics battled it out for NBA supremacy during the 1980s. In every year of the decade, either the Celtics or Lakers reached the NBA Finals. Three times, the storied franchises squared off against each other.
Scott recently spoke about how much the game has changed. He talked about those ’80s rivalries and how there aren’t any today. He said that Boston/LA rivalry is the best and last one the NBA will ever see.
Byron Scott had an up-close look at the Celtics/Lakers rivalry
The Boston Celtics and LA Lakers were the faces of ’80s basketball. It all fell perfectly into place as Larry Bird headed east, and Magic Johnson went west. Although Bird was drafted a year earlier as a junior, he decided to play his senior year at Indiana State. There, he squared off against Johnson in an epic 1979 NCAA championship that set the tone for their NBA future.
The Lakers won the championship in Johnson’s rookie year. Bird’s Celtics claimed the title the following season. They didn’t meet up in the Finals until 1984, and it was a classic.
Scott was a rookie during that 1983-84 season. The San Diego Clippers drafted him with the fourth overall pick but traded him to the Lakers just before the start of the season. He played a role off the bench for the Lakers, who outplayed the Celtics much of the series but fell in seven games.
The Lakers stole Game 1 in Boston and were on the verge of going up 2-0. LA held a two-point lead and the ball in the waning seconds, but Gerald Henderson’s steal of a James Worthy pass intended for Scott proved costly for the Lakers. Henderson picked off the pass and converted it into a game-tying layup. Boston won in overtime.
After getting blown out in Game 3, Boston resorted to physical play in Game 4. After being called out for being soft by Bird, the Celtics played rough, triggered by Kevin McHale’s clotheslining of Kurt Rambis as Rambis headed in for a layup. Benches cleared after the hard foul, and the rest of the series was heated and a bit more physical.
The teams met in 1985 and 1987, with the Lakers winning both of those meetings. Scott won three championships during his time with the Lakers.
Those days of NBA rivalries are gone, according to Scott
Scott was a recent guest on Michael Cooper’s Showtime With Coop podcast. Cooper and Scott played several years together in LA, and they reminisced about those days going up against the Celtics. Scott talked about how intense that rivalry with Boston was. He also said there will never be another one like it, especially the way players play today.
“No, that’s gone,” Scott said of the rivalries. “These guys are all buddy-buddy. I knew that when I was coaching New Orleans, and we were playing against Utah.
“Deron Williams (Jazz guard) and Chris Paul (Thunder guard) were right behind each other in the (2005) draft. We ended up getting Paul at (No.) four, and Utah picked Williams at three. The day of the game, we come in for the shootaround, and Chris was like, what did you do last night, coach? I was like, I do what I normally do the night before a game. I go to a movie, relax, and I go back home and start thinking about the game.
“Then I said, ‘What did you do?’ He said, ‘Oh, Deron came over, and we had dinner, and he spent the night. I took him back to the hotel this morning.’
“I said, ‘What? He spent the night? What kind of s*** is that? And now y’all gonna battle each other?’
“I just don’t get it. If Boston was in town, me and Danny Ainge ain’t gonna have dinner together, and he ain’t gonna spend the night at my house. No way in hell. I don’t get that. The rivalries, they don’t exist like they did back in the day. That Boston Celtics/LA rivalry will the best and the last rivalry that we’ll ever see.”