The rivalry between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers goes way back, and Kobe Bryant is reminded of this on a daily basis.
The Lakers legend, who plans to retire at the end of the season, will take on the Celtics for the final time Sunday night when L.A. plays Boston at Staples Center. It should be an emotional night for Kobe, who emphasized when the teams met in December just how much the Celtics mean to him.
Bryant also didn’t leave his trip to Boston empty-handed, as the C’s presented him with a piece of the Garden’s famous parquet floor in a private ceremony. In a recent interview with the Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy, Bryant revealed he’s found a special place for that gift.
“I put it in my home office. Right in the center,” Bryant told Murphy. “I mean, that means more to me than (Celtics president of basketball operations) Danny (Ainge) would even know.”
The 37-year-old Bryant insisted that teams not present him with gifts during his “retirement tour,” but the C’s agreed to give him their slice of history in private. Needless to say, Kobe was extremely grateful.
“I was very surprised,” he said. “Watching the Celtics taught me so much about the game. I mean, I studied (Larry) Bird religiously, I studied (Dennis Johnson) religiously. (Bill) Russell, (Bob) Cousy, Jo Jo (White), I mean I watched those guys (on tape).
“I watched the difference in basketball between the Lakers and the Celtics. Red Auerbach’s system, and how he would raise the young guys and the culture he created, and the culture that we created. Why did the Celtics win? How were they able to win?”
Bryant had plenty more to say about the C’s in his interview with Murphy, which definitely is worth a read before the future Hall of Famer takes on his nemesis for the final time.
Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (24) walks off the court during the second half of a game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden.