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Rivalry Renewed: A Look Back at the 1984 NBA Finals

Posted on May 30, 2010 by Jacob Rogers

Larry Bird and Magic Johnson make the epic 1984 NBA Finals the most watched series in NBA Finals history

Of course when everybody thinks of the great rivalry between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, they think of Larry and Magic… But the intense rivalry started even before the epic 1984 Finals series. The Celtics and Lakers met seven times in the NBA Finals before 1984, and the Celtics won all seven championships. The rivalry slightly died down, but was reborn in the epic 1984 finals series.

In 1984 the Celtics and the Lakers met in the NBA Finals once again. This would turn out to be the most watched series in NBA history. Who wouldn’t want to watch it? It is perhaps the most intriguing matchup in NBA Finals history. You have arguably the two best players in the NBA, the two best teams, and to top it all off, the intense rivalry between the two franchises.

Because of their 62-20 record, the Celtics would win home court advantage. The first two games of the series would be held in Boston, but that wouldn’t prove to be any help to the home team. The Lakers went on to win game one 115-109. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had 32 points and 8 rebounds. Earvin “Magic” Johnson had 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 10 assists. Bird had 24 points and 14 rebounds, but it was not enough to propel the Celtics to a victory in game one.

In game two, the Celtics lead most of the game but lost it in the fourth quarter. The fourth quarter was a fight back and forth, up and down the court. With 19 seconds left Gerald Henderson, of the Celtics, intercepted a pass and took it in for the tying lay-up. The game was tied with 13 seconds left. The Celtics defense held the Lakers from putting up a shot, sending the game to overtime. In overtime, the Celtics got a lead and held on for the three point win 124-121.

The Lakers took control in game three by going on a 18-0 run in the first quarter. In the third quarter, the Lakers scored a Finals record of 47 points. The Lakers went on to give the Celtics their worst playoff lost in franchise history, 137-104.

The series heated up in game four, when Kurt Rambis, of the Los Angeles Lakers, was going for a breakaway lay-up. Rambis was clotheslined by Kevin McHale. This event lead to an all out fight between the two teams. Within two minutes, Abdul-Jabbar and Bird started to fight and had to be separated. When Abdul-Jabbar fouled out the Celtics took advantage of the opportunity to come back. The Lakers missed four free throws in the last minute of the game to allow the Celtics to force overtime. In overtime the Celtics held on for the win, 129-125.

The conditions in the Boston Garden played a huge role in the outcome of game five. Because the garden had no air conditioning, the temperature in the stadium reached temps up to 97 degrees. The Lakers were using iced towels and oxygen tanks just to try and get through the brutal conditions. As the Lakers seemed to die down, the Celtics thrived off the home court advantage. The Celtics went on a 21-7 run towards the end of the game to go ahead three games to two in the series. The Celtics won 121-103.

The Lakers were in control in game six, but there was yet another fight. The Lakers won 119-108. After the game, Bird complained about the commissioner’s comments about how the league would benefit from a seven game series. Maybe he thought that the league had influenced the game against the Celtics in game six? Also after the game, M.L. Carr was hit with a beer that was thrown by a fan. The combination of that and the past fights made Carr declare the series an “all out war.” Game seven was destined to be a hard fought game.

Before game seven, Cedric Maxwell told his team, “Get on my back, fellas, and I’ll take us home.” He stayed true to his word. Maxwell had 24 points 8 rebounds and 8 assists. Larry Bird and Robert Parish had double doubles and helped the Celtics control the whole game. The Celtics won 111-102, giving them their 15th NBA Championship.

The Celtics closed out the Eastern Conference Championship in Boston on Friday, and they will meet the Lakers for the 12th time in the NBA Finals. The Lakers lead the Western Conference Championship three games to two, and have a chance to advance to the NBA Finals tonight in Phoenix.

Recently, in 2008, the Celtics and Lakers met in the NBA Finals, and the Celtics won the series in six games.Will the Celtics keep their historical edge over the Lakers in 2010, or will Los Angeles successfully repeat?

This intense rivalry is what keeps the Boston fans chanting, “Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!”

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