The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics are not just the two most storied franchises in the NBA, but they are two of the most storied franchises in all of sports. They have arguably the most iconic rivalry in the history of American pro sports. It is a rivalry that was one-sided in the 60’s, brought the whole country together in the 80’s and thrilled us in two memorable series after the turn of the century.
Players like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Bob Cousey, Jerry West, John Havlicek, Elgin Baylor, Kevin McHale, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol, Paul Pierce and Kobe Bryant are some of the greatest players the game has ever seen, but all their legacies were based off if they beat their franchise’s arch rival to win a championship, and that is what the Lakers-Celtics’ rivalry is all about. Ask any one of these players which NBA Finals win or loss they remember most and I guarantee you their answer would be either winning or losing to their rival.
After Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals, with the Lakers winning an epic title-clinching contest, both teams as constructed had reached their peak. Both teams would go on to try to get back to the Finals the next three seasons, but both franchises came up short each year. Teams like the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder are now the most dominant teams in all of basketball and do not seem to be letting up anytime soon. So it is back to the drawing board for both the Lakers and Celtics.
The Lakers’ plan is to have the as much financial flexibility as possible when the 2014 offseason hits. As of today, only Steve Nash will be on the books and the the Lakers will have plenty of wiggle-room to sign the top free agents that will be available at that time. Their first matter of business will be seeing if Dwight Howard will re-sign with the franchise. Whether they sign Howard or not, Los Angeles will then begin their reboot process to become a contender once more.
The Celtics’ plan began last offseason with Ray Allen taking his talents to South Beach. He was the first domino to fall. After a first round exit of the NBA Playoffs at the hands of the New York Knicks, it was clear that Boston needed to disassemble the core that brought the franchise’s 17th banner to New England. And just like that, Danny Ainge pulled off two blockbuster deals in a matter of a week.
With Boston sending Doc Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers, and Garnett and Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets, the Celtics are set to be major players in the 2014 NBA Draft that is marked to have a special class coming out. Ainge took notes from the great Red Auerbach, who regretted keeping the 80’s Celtics together for far too long. This proactive approach by Ainge will benefit the franchise with young pieces that will be valuable assets when the Celtics are ready to pursue bigger names in the near future.
The Lakers and Celtics have a combined 33 championships between them, and that is not by accident. Each franchise has found a way to rebuild and climb back to the NBA’s mountain top generation after generation. So do not feel bad for the Lakers and the Celtics as they hit these rough patches as they try make the necessary moves to get back in contention. History has showed us that both teams will be back in due time, most likely facing in off in the NBA Finals once more.