The dynamics haven’t changed since the Bird-Magic Era. The Lakers have the glam coach, 10-time champion Phil Jackson. The Celtics have an underrated mentor in Glenn “Doc’’ Rivers, who seeks no undue attention, makes no inflammatory comments, and shrewdly deflects all praise toward his players.
The fan contrast hasn’t changed a bit. If anything, it’s only gotten bigger. Boston fans still think LA fans are frauds (with the exception of the extremely loyal and eternally cool Jack Nicholson) and Laker fans still don’t understand why Boston fans care so much.
There is nothing in the NBA like it. Truthfully, there is nothing in sports like it. Red Sox and Yankees fans are essentially the same people. That is not the case here. We’re talking Pluto vs. Venus.
Orlando vs. Phoenix might very well have been a nice basketball series. But the league can have that anytime. It’s a lot more fun when it’s the Celtics and the Lakers. Welcome to Chapter 12.
If you possibly need more Celtics-Lakers history, even after that lesson, check out Steve Aschburner’s take. Two of my favorite basketball writers, writing about the exact same topic on the same day.