There’s no way for me to avoid watching the NBA finals that start tonight and flashback to my 80’s youth and watching all the memorable games between the Lakers and Celtics. And of course the rivalry between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.
In fact, I’ve been rooting for Lakers – Celtics final this year for the sole reason that it means a ton of highlight of those games from the 80s. We’ll be saturated with the obvious ones – Magic’s baby hook, McChale’s clothesline of Rambis, the Heat Game in the Boston Garden – but I’m also anticipaitng to see glimpses of Worthy’s tomahawk dunks, Chief’s rainbow jumpers.
But let’s not kid ourselves and think that this year’s final will emulate those great games of the 80s. First of all, the teams aren’t nearly as good. Kobe and KG are greatness. Gasol, Pierce, Allen, and a few others on the current teams have careers to be proud of. But those 80s Lakers and Celtics teams were just STACKED. How many hall of famers passed through that rivalry? Plenty. Bob McAdoo was a hall of famer on the Lakers who didn’t even start! Same with Bill Walton on the Celtics. Get past the star studded cast of Kareem, Magic, Bird, Parish, Worth, and McChale. The support players on todays teams don’t hold a candle to the role players on the Lakers and Celtics of the 80s – guys like Dennis Johnson and Jamaal Wilkes.
Anyway, if you want to see the greatness that passed though that rivalry in the 80 check out the boxscore of every game that Larry Bird and Magic Johnson played against each other. There should be a DVD box set that has all 38 of these games.
As for who I’m pulling for this year, it would be the Celtics. I’ve always gravitated towards players, not teams, in the NBA. For whatever reason, the abilities and styles of the individuals is what drew my attention. This is unlike other sports that I follow, where team accomplishments in college basketball and baseball are what I admire. In the 80’s I was a Magic Johnson fan. In the 90s, it was Tim Hardaway and Hakeem Olajuwon. This decade, its Kevin Garnett who I admire. Go Celtics.