Lakers/Celtics Rivalry: A Win For Us Youngsters

Phillip Barnett —  June 18, 2010

June 17, 2010 - Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - epa02208507 Los Angeles Lakers celebrate after they defeated the Boston Celtics 83-79 to win their 16th NBA Championship at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, USA, 17 June 2010.

With my 48th birthday rapidly approaching (June 29th for those of you who want to send presents), I wonder if I’m finally mellowing out with my advancing age. If I had to witness the way the Boston Celtics hammered the Los Angeles Lakers back when I actually had excess physical and mental energy to burn, they would have named one of those killer hurricanes after me. I would have tore up the same volume of s–t I ripped up back in ‘84.

That was the beginning of an e-mail my father sent me the morning after Game 6 of the 2008 Finals or the morning after the worst sports moment of my lifetime. Growing up, I did as my father did, and one of the main things that define him and have defined me is a hatred for various sports teams. The Dodgers. The Broncos. The Celtics. Sports hate is one of those things that becomes a part of your life and helps you understand simple differences – like the difference between good and evil. As my father would tell it, the Celtics were the evil of all evils.

My father is a history buff, U.S. history, world history, presidential history and of course, sports history. I grew up being taught about the nuances of the Lakers/Celtics rivalry, which I guess, was his own special way of raising me right. I grew up loathing the Celtics to the point that I refuse to wear green. I wasn’t even born yet and I’m still mad that the Lakers couldn’t get things done in 1984. I was six months old and still thing that the Lakers taking home the title was one of the greatest moments of my lifetime – but in my basketball watching lifetime the Lakers had only played the Celtics in the Finals once prior to this series, and that was in 2008. You see, some of the Lakers fans who are of older generations didn’t dislike this Celtic’s team as much as they hated those teams in the ‘80s. They wanted the Lakers to win, but it wasn’t as crushing as that loss in ’84 which generated this kind of anger (from the same e-mail as above):

When I saw Cedric Maxwell flashing the choke sign at the Lakers’ bench, I wanted to jump through my 21-inch TV screen and plunge his Cornbread ass to blood-stained crumbs. There were also visions of ML Carr talking smack and prancing along the sideline, even though the contributions of locker-room attendants and ball boys exceeded whatever that towel-waving punks limited talent could muster.

Then there was Danny Ainge, whose face would wince at the sound of every single whistle, and who made you want to deliver a set of rapid-fire b—h slaps across his rosy checks each time you saw his beady eyes squint. Let’s not also forget the times Kevin McHale flung his boney and pasty elbows at everyone dressed in forum blue and gold and got away with it. The only Celtics I truly respected were Larry Bird and Dennis Johnson, and both of them continued to make plays that broke the Lakers’ back as well as my heart.

For those of my generation and younger, the ’08 loss was devastating. I HATE these Celtics. From Paul Pierce all the way down to Sheldon Williams. They’re uppity, bullies, condescending and obnoxious. I mean, Kendrick Perkins doesn’t even smile and has never heard a whistle he doesn’t agree with. Paul Pierce rattles off blasphemous statement after blasphemous statement. Ray Allen’s grin when he has things going makes me want to punch through walls. I really don’t understand how anyone outside of Boston can love that team. I respect everything that they’ve done, they’re a fantastic basketball team and have had an amazing three-year run, but I can’t stand them. That loss in 2008 burned me for two whole years. After that win over Orlando, I was mildly satisfied, but it just wasn’t the Celtics. I wanted what my father had – an amazing basketball team with a world championship taken out of the hands of the Celtics. In Game 7, the Lakers gave me just that.

I just wanted to say that I couldn’t be happier about this Lakers team writing another positive chapter in this Lakers/Celtics rivalry for my generation. We don’t know when these two teams are going to square off in the Finals again, and another loss to the Celtics would have been a crushing blow to my summer. No basketball is already hard enough – no basketball with a Celtics championship looming over my head would have ruined me. It’s been a fantastic season with Kobe doing historic things early, Pau Gasol continuing to build his Lakers résumé, Derek Fisher hitting more huge shots and Andrew Bynum continuing his growth as a basketball player. I really can’t wait for next season. I’m hoping for more hilarious Ron Artest interviews, more big games, another long playoff run – and hopefully – another Lakers title.

Phillip Barnett