When the NBA is at its best it’s about rivalries. Sometimes it’s between players and sometimes between teams.
Take the legendary Bill Russell-Wilt Chamberlain rivalry. Or take the Celtics-Lakers rivalry.
Better yet, take it with Russell in Boston and Chamberlain in LA.
That rivalry dates back to the 1960s with Jerry West and Elgin Baylor, before Chamberlain arrived in the late ‘60s.
It came roaring back in the 1980s as Magic Johnson went to the Lakers and Larry Bird to the Celtics after a memorable NCAA championship game in 1979 that Johnson won.
Their rivalry brought life to a moribund league and turned the playoffs into something really special.
Take Game 7 in 1984. Boston closed the Lakers out at home and there is nothing in sports like a Celtics crowd when a title is about to happen.
Watch Bird at the end when he has several free throws. He’s so sure he’s going to hit them and so excited that he nearly runs off the line after every one. Kevin McHale and Dennis Johnson are embracing on the sidelines as the clock runs out and near the end, a few overeager fans storm the court before the buzzer goes off.
It’s a great scene from an historic rivalry that still seems fresh today.