Donnie Wahlberg Recalls Living Through Celtics-Lakers Rivalry In 1980s

When ESPN asked Donnie Wahlberg to narrate a “30 For 30” documentary, he was interested. Then, when the actor and Boston native found out the documentary series was “Celtics/Lakers: Best of Enemies,” he was 100 percent in.

“I got a text from Chris Herren (the subject of a past ’30 for 30′) sort of out nowhere asking, ‘Hey, would you be interested in narrating a 30 for 30?,'” Wahlberg told The Boston Globe’s Chad Finn recently. “I said sure, not knowing all of the details, and he told me to call (director/producer) Jon Hock to let him know I’d be interested in doing it. Called him, he told me what it was about, and I believe my response was, ‘I would narrate that ’30 For 30’ for a grilled cheese sandwich. And I’ll pay for it.'”

Wahlberg, who narrates the Celtics side of the two-part special, was a perfect choice for the job, as he and Lakers narrator Ice Cube both spent their teens and early 20s in the 1980s at the peak of the Celtics-Lakers rivalry. And for Wahlberg, the job was a reminder of those days.

“Fans of our generation know the details so well, the Celtics history and Red (Auerbach) and (Bill) Russell and the rich history, so maybe for us it’s not a lot of new ground,” Wahlberg told Finn. “But for the country, it’s been a long time since these dynasties clashed in the ‘80s, and though we had a mini-rebirth of it a few years ago, and the reminder that this gives you of what it all meant and how contested it was is almost profound.”

Part 1 of “Celtics/Lakers: Best of Enemies” premiered Tuesday, and Wahlberg believes it’s perfect timing after the NBA Finals wrapped up Monday with the Golden State Warriors beating the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“I mean, juxtaposing it against the Finals that ended (Monday), it’s going to be eye-opening for people unfamiliar with the depth of the rivalry and their legacies,” Wahlberg said of the documentary. “You didn’t see a Kevin Durant situation or a LeBron James situation back in this rivalry. These guys were their own super team and they stayed together. They were united in a hatred for each other, even if in the end they ultimately respected each other.”

Part 2 of the documentary airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Thumbnail photo via Jerry Lai/USA TODAY Sports Images

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