Basketball may have been at its best when the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers battled it out in the 1980s. The Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird rivalry heated things up and took the NBA to a new level. Johnson is still putting a hurting on the Celtics during their recent struggles.
Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird was the rivalry within the rivalry
Magic Johnson and Larry Bird got things going back in the late 1970s during the NCAA tourney final. Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans faced Bird’s little-known Indiana State Sycamores for the NCAA title game in March of 1979. Johnson and Bird went at it and it began the long-lasting rivalry between the two.
When the two reached the NBA, the rivalry beefed up between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. The Celtics and Lakers are two of the NBA’s most storied franchises and have met 367 times. The teams have played each other a record 12 times in the NBA Finals.
The Celtics and Lakers met in the NBA Finals six times in the 1960s. After a drought in the 70s, Bird and Johnson re-energized the rivalry as the teams met three times for the championship during the 1980s. The Celtics won in 1984 and the Lakers bounced back with wins in 1985 and 1987.
The Boston Celtics are struggling
One year after reaching the Eastern Conference Finals, the Boston Celtics find themselves having a difficult season. The team hasn’t had consecutive victories in a month and finds itself sitting in sixth place at 15-15. There also appears to be some tension brewing in Boston.
The Celtics recently lost consecutive games to the Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards, prompting some concerning comments from players and the front office. Point guard Kemba Walker criticized the team’s effort, while general manager Danny Ainge said his team’s roster just wasn’t that good.
On Sunday, the Celtics hit a new low for the season. The team led the New Orleans Pelicans by 24 points in the third quarter in what appeared to be a quality win on the road. They wound up losing in overtime. The loss prompted Jaylen Brown’s second “no comment” in as many weeks when it came to a question regarding his team’s ball movement.
Johnson lets the Celtics know how bad they are
If the Boston Celtics didn’t know exactly how bad things were really going, they got some help from an old rival. Magic Johnson even jumped on the Celtics’ bashing on Twitter on Tuesday. Johnson pulled no punches when calling out the Celts.
Johnson listed the Celtics first when he tweeted about the NBA’s biggest disappointments this year. “The biggest disappointments this season so far have been the Celtics, Mavericks, and the Bucks,” Johnson wrote. “The Celtics lack size, the Mavericks are not a great defensive team, and the Bucks are slow and unathletic.”
Johnson isn’t wrong. With Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Kemba Walker, the Celtics should not be a .500 team. Well after his playing days, Johnson is still tormenting the Celtics.
All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.