Throughout the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, the Celtics-Lakers rivalry intensified. It became an annual tradition to see the Celtics and Lakers in June. Then, their head-to-head battles reached a crescendo in 1987.
During the 1990s, the rivalry slowed. The Chicago Bulls emerged as the NBA’s superpower, and the Celtics and Lakers weren’t good enough to keep pace, so they didn’t face one another in the Finals that decade.
The Lakers regained their championship swagger at the turn of the century, but the Celtics didn’t become a force again until the arrival of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in 2007. Since then, the Celtics-Lakers rivalry has been restored, with each team beating the other in the Finals once over the last three seasons.
The new generation of Celtics and Lakers are following the same path the old warriors walked to be king. Look no further than the 2010 Finals, a seven-game series that will grow in legend as the years pass.
But could the millennial Celtics-Lakers rivalry wither as quickly as it blossomed?
Pat Riley has assembled a superteam in South Beach, and all Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Co. want to do is alter the balance of power in the NBA.
Will the Celtics-Lakers rivalry take a backseat to a Heat-Lakers rivalry or Celtics-Heat grudge-fest?
In the upcoming season, it’s difficult to predict if the Celtics will win the Eastern Conference or make the NBA Finals and face the Lakers. The Lakers are the defending champs, but nobody knows if the they will win the West and three-peat in the Finals. Nobody knows whether the seismic shift in the East is a 3.0 or 7.0 on the Richter Scale.
Will the Heat become more despised to Lakers fans than the Celtics?
Will the Heat become more hated by Celtics fans than the Lakers?
The NBA has released the 2010-11 schedule, and it’s no secret what the important games are for the upcoming season. The Celtics open the season against the Heat in Boston. The Lakers host the Heat in Los Angeles on Christmas Day.
Which is the bigger game?
Are people more excited to see the Heat square off against the Lakers?
Is the birth of a new rivalry on the horizon?
While the Heat are the popular choice to run away with the East, the Celtics still have the mentality that they are the team to beat. And let’s not forget about the Magic, who believe their “Superman” will lead them to the promised land.
The competitive landscape is more treacherous than ever in the NBA. It could spell the beginning of new rivalries.
But just because the Heat are fielding a dream team doesn’t mean the Celtics-Lakers rivalry is going to fade away.
The Celtics have unfinished business, and they are an organization filled with people eager to win another championship before retiring. Shaquille O’Neal adds another level of intrigue to the equation. Shaq didn’t accept peanuts to play for Boston to work on his stand-up act. He will give all he’s got to help the Celtics win Banner No. 18, and when the Celtics and Lakers play each other, he won’t be shy about giving Kobe Bryant the business.
There’s still no love lost between the Celtics and Lakers. A team of superstars in South Beach won’t change that.
The Heat might be a powerful new contender in the quest for rings, but they are not going to erase years of tradition and history and hatred overnight. The Celtics-Lakers rivalry will never die as long as there are Bostonians who despise L.A, and Angelenos who think Boston sucks.
Having a third superpower only makes the battle for bragging rights a little more exciting.