BOSTON — Former Boston Celtics player and coach Tommy Heinsohn was among those in attendance at West End Johnnie's in Boston on Tuesday night to give his perspective on the historic rivalry between NBA legends Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, and to discuss the upcoming Broadway play Magic Bird.
Heinsohn was also kind enough to take a few minutes to speak with NESN.com, where he shared his thoughts on the rivalry, the Celtics-Lakers rivalry as a whole and who could be looking at a career in show business if we're without an NBA season.
NESN.com: What is your favorite memory of the Larry Bird-Magic Johnson rivalry?
Heinsohn: Well, my favorite memory of these two guys was the response to the Celtics getting trumped by the Lakers out there [in the 1984 NBA Finals], by 42 I think it was, and then really digging down deep and turning it around. Watching these things, both teams played exceptional basketball. They both knew how to play their styles, so it was very interesting to watch. This is the last of great team basketball. There were enough players that played as a team on both ballclubs.
NESN.com: The Bird-Magic rivalry is obviously unique, but are there any two players in the NBA today that you think have a rivalry going that's also pretty unique?
Heinsohn: Well, right now, you have LeBron [James] and the current Celtics players. So Paul Pierce and LeBron, that's the closest thing I can think of.
NESN.com: Do you think the Celtics-Lakers rivalry, as a whole, has changed over the years?
Heinsohn: Well, each generation of players has their own reason for feeling strongly about playing the Celtics or the Lakers. It started when I was a player, and we beat them all the time. So, really, we had more of a rivalry with Philadelphia than we did with the Lakers.
NESN.com: Do you think the Celtics-Lakers rivalry is still among the best in the NBA?
Heinsohn: Yeah, yeah, I think so. I mean, it's been showcased the most. And, like I said, they're playing with teams instead of individuals, you know, without one guy having to score 50 in order to win.
NESN.com: Well, Tommy, as far as this upcoming Bird-Magic Broadway play, they don't have anyone playing your role? Who would you cast to play yourself?
Heinsohn: [Laughs] No way I'll be in there.
NESN.com: I know players are looking to keep themselves occupied during the lockout. Are there any NBA players you could see playing a role on Broadway down the line?
Heinsohn: I have no idea. Well, Ray Allen was in a movie, so if they don't have a season … and he can make a jump shot.
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