And when you think about the Celtics-Lakers rivalry, you think about Hall of Famers. Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Bill Russell and Jerry West are just a few.
This year’s series, however, features perhaps the most prestigious group in the great rivalry’s history.
There are nine current and/or former NBA All-Stars playing in this series. The Celtics have six, while the Lakers boast three of their own.
For Boston, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, Rasheed Wallace and Michael Finley have all been All-Stars at some point in their careers.
L.A.’s Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Ron Artest have also played in the All-Star Game.
All nine are or have been great players at some point in their respective careers. But what is so amazing about this group is the fact that many of them are destined to be enshrined in the NBA Hall of Fame.
Bryant is as much as a lock for the Hall as a player could possibly be.
It also wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Pierce, Garnett and Allen are definite Hall of Famers.
Then there’s Gasol, who has averaged 18.8 points and nine rebounds a game over his nine-year NBA career. The 29-year-old is arguably the best big man in the game today and also is making a trip to the NBA Finals for the third straight season, which doesn’t hurt his resume.
Rondo is only 24, but Boston hasn’t seen a point guard so athletic, talented and capable of running an offense since Dennis Johnson, who was just posthumously announced as a Hall of Famer.
Let’s also not forget the coaches.
Phil Jackson has 10 NBA championships. He has the most coaching wins in playoff history and is four victories away from an 11th ring. That’s a lock.
Doc Rivers has only been a head coach in the NBA for 11 years, but he’s already appeared in two NBA Finals, and has led his team to a winning record in the regular-season seven times.
Add it all up, and that’s eight potential Hall of Famers.
That’s a lot of talent on one stage.