History repeating: Celtics vs. Lakers

A refresher of the best games, teams and players


June 05, 2008|By Childs Walker | Childs Walker,SUN REPORTER

Cue up CBS's theme music from the 1980s and imagine Brent Musburger setting the scene.

Yes, it's time for a Boston Celtics-Los Angeles Lakers showdown in the NBA Finals, the first in 21 years. Instead of Bird, Magic, Kareem and the Chief, we have Kevin Garnett questing for his first ring and Kobe Bryant trying to prove he can do it without Shaquille O'Neal.

But one thing remains the same. This matchup makes casual sports fans care about the NBA. So to get you ready, here's a little Celtics-Lakers nostalgia:

Five best games

1. 1984 Finals, Game 4: One of the most intense games in NBA history. The Celtics were in danger of going down 3-1 when Kevin McHale took out Kurt Rambis on a fast break. Larry Bird clinched a 129-125 win in overtime with a shot over Magic Johnson, and Boston went on to win the series.

2. 1987 Finals, Game 4: Magic won it with a running hook to give the Lakers an insurmountable, 3-1 series lead.

3. 1962 Finals, Game 7: Frank Selvy missed a 15-footer that could've given the Lakers their first series win over Boston. The Celtics, behind Bill Russell, won in overtime.

4. 1969 Finals, Game 7: Don Nelson sent Russell off the right way with a game-winning shot that hit the back of the rim, bounced straight up and fell through.

5. 1962 Finals, Game 5: Elgin Baylor turned in perhaps the greatest game in Finals history with 61 points and 22 rebounds as the Lakers won, 126-121.

Five best teams

1. 1985-86 Celtics: Bird and McHale were at their best and Bill Walton enjoyed a sixth-man renaissance as the Celtics won 67 regular-season games and went 15-3 in the playoffs.

2. 1986-87 Lakers: Magic reached his Most Valuable Player apex and played with his deepest supporting cast.

3. 1999-2000 Lakers: With Shaq at his peak, Kobe emerging as a superstar and Glen Rice as a third option, this crew won 67 regular-season games and survived a tough playoff run.

4. 1961-62 Celtics: Russell, Tom Heinsohn and Sam Jones were in their primes, Bob Cousy was still great, and the team went 60-20 in the regular season before dispatching the Lakers.

5. 1964-65 Celtics: With John Havlicek onboard, this team won 62 regular-season games, the most of Russell's 11 championship squads.

All-time Celtics

Guard Bob Cousy: The league's first great point guard.

Guard Sam Jones: Go-to scorer for the 1960s Celtics.

Forward Larry Bird: Best all-around forward in NBA history.

Forward Kevin McHale: Impeccable low-post game and defensive versatility created matchup nightmares.

Center Bill Russell: The rings might not say it all, but they say a lot.

All-time Lakers

Guard Magic Johnson: Still a unique point guard and best transition player ever.

Guard Jerry West: Kobe might eclipse him, but West was more consistent and a little better in the playoffs through this point in their respective careers.

Forward Elgin Baylor: All-around great whose hang time and body control changed the game.

Forward James Worthy: The ideal target for Magic's ingenious passes.

Center Shaquille O'Neal: Gee, this is easy. Start off by eliminating Wilt Chamberlain, whose best days came pre-Lakers. That leaves us with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vs. Shaquille O'Neal - grace, efficiency and durability vs. unmatched physical dominance. Shaq takes it by a nose because Kareem peaked in Milwaukee.


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