Fans of the Los Angeles Lakers may just have gotten their nightmare NBA Finals matchup, with the Golden State Warriors facing off against the Boston Celtics. Whichever team wins, it’s unlikely to be fun for Lakers fans, but the Celtics in particular winning would have a huge impact, as that would mean the franchise would overtake the Lakers again for the most number of NBA titles in the history of the league.
Both teams currently have 17 to their name, and the rivalry has been historic, going as far back as the 1960s. The Bill Russell led Celtics beat Jerry West and his Lakers teams 6 seasons in a row, before the Showtime Lakers clashed with Bird’s Celtics and came up with 5 championships to their three. It went dead for a while before the Celtics Big 3 and Kobe Bryant’s resurgent Lakers ignited it once more in the late 2000s.
When LeBron James joined the Lakers, he came with a pre-existing rivalry with the Celtics as well. The Big 3 had beaten his Cleveland Cavaliers teams before he went on to join the Miami Heat and effectively ended their title hopes for the foreseeable future. This was clearly something that gave Bron pleasure, too. He spoke about his hatred of the Green Machine in an interview in 2012.
James’ first playoff battle with the Celtics came in the 07-08 season, when the Big 3 beat his Cavs team in 7 games before going on to win the NBA championship. Two seasons later they would meet again, with the Celtics winning again, 4-2 this time, but losing in the Finals to Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.
After LeBron James went to Miami, he got his revenge, beating the Celtics in 5 games, but he’d go on to lose in the 2011 NBA Finals. James would meet the Celtics again in 2012, and here he’d beat them in 7 games, en route to his first ring with the Heat. After that, it was domination from LeBron as he firmly took over as king of the Eastern Conference, winning the next 3 playoff series against Boston and losing just 4 games in those 3 series.
After they denied him as he was entering his prime, a player of Bron’s caliber was always going to hate the Celtics, but he backed up his dislike of the franchise by absolutely dominating them in the second half of his career. And if the Celtics are to somehow beat the Warriors this season and win another NBA title, both James and Laker nation will be itching to get back to the top and find a way to put them back in their place next season.