Two years ago, the rivalry between the Celtics and Lakers was due only to history. Not anymore. The current Celtics and Lakers have entrenched themselves in history and are now rivals, real rivals, of their own. (Arash Markazi, ESPN Los Angeles)
That’s the beauty of this series. It’s no longer simply a rivalry with five decades worth of stories; it’s now become the best current rivalry in sports. This is no longer about past and present players reminiscing about old games; it’s about current players creating their own place in history against players they truly don’t like and have thought of as enemies for two years.
If playing against the Celtics were like any other game, Bryant wouldn’t have mockingly hummed Boston’s unofficial anthem, “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” by the Dropkick Murphys, over and over again as he came out of the shower after hitting the game-winning shot to beat the Celtics earlier this season. If playing the Celtics were like any other game, Sasha Vujacic wouldn’t have erased every article of green clothing he had in his closet after losing to Boston two years ago, and Phil Jackson wouldn’t have told Paul Pierce last offseason, “Get it back, we want to meet you in the Finals,” when the coach saw Pierce in L.A.
Obviously, this isn’t just any series. It’s the Lakers and the Celtics, and this current group is beginning to garner as much history and dislike for one another as the 1980s squads that played each other in three Finals. That’s what happens when you begin to form a familiarity with your enemy. It’s why we loved the NBA back then.
As much as these Celtics and Lakers yearn to beat each other, as much as both teams wanted to face no other opponent with the Larry O’Brien Trophy on the line, Cedric Maxwell cautions they’ll never hate each other as much as the old Celtics and Lakers did. (ESPN Boston)
“It’s different now,” said Maxwell, who played a big role in the Celtics ‘ Finals victory over the Lakers in 1984. “Players have a tendency because they like each other, they text each other, tweet each other, they do all these things now. It didn’t happen during our time.
“I’ve always said this, if I saw one of those guys on the side of the road I would speed up if their car was broken down. There was no way I was going to stop and help them. Right now I think somebody would actually call the police and help them.”
As always, quotes from Cornbread need to come with the following disclaimer: Cornbread once said Dirk Nowitzki is better than Larry Bird. Nothing he says can be trusted without thorough inspection of the validity.
Anyway, something tells me Kevin Garnett probably wouldn’t stop by the side of the road to help a Laker either. KG would probably hop out of his car, scream profanities in the Laker’s ear, and then judo-chop the Laker’s arm before running away, still screaming profanities. Either that or he wouldn’t be able to do anything because he had no basket support to headbutt beforehand.
The rivalry is strong, maybe as strong as it was back in the 1980′s. As much as Cornbread would like to think his glory years will never be relived by anybody else, the rivalry is playing out a lot like it did back then. And he players still want to do nothing but open up a can on each other.
Don’t blame it on history, either. For the Celtics and Lakers (and especially Ron Artest), this rivalry is all about now.