The Celtics-Lakers rivalry just isn’t what it used to be.
Gone are the days where a Boston-Los Angeles finals seemed like a foregone conclusion. No more Bird-Magic battles. No more instant classics that would be replayed time and time again decades later.
Sure, the remnants are still there. Well, for those who were around in the 80s, anyway. But even then, all that is left are the fading memories of the three classic matches the green and purple had during that incredible run.
Here we are, in 2020, and the Celtics and Lakers are getting set to face one another for the second (and what could be the final) time this season on Sunday.
Boston won the first matchup in a 32-point rout at TD Garden last month. An impressive win for the C’s for sure, but even that game kind of flew under the radar in spite of the fact that both teams are title contenders this year.
Honestly, the whole Boston-LA thing has lost a whole lot of buzz, and only a finals matchup between the two sides (which is possible) can save it.
Remember: in 2008 and 2010, the Celtics and Lakers revived their rivalry by meeting in the finals twice, with Boston winning the first time and Los Angeles winning the second time around. Heck, if it weren’t for Kevin Garnett’s knee injury in 2009, the C’s and Lakers almost certainly would have clashed three years in a row.
But the thrill faded fast.
Following that last matchup in 2010, both teams began to age and give way to a new era, but even the highlights of those two terrific finals did not quite live up to the hype of the 80s.
So the rivalry was kind of forgotten about.
The Lakers then went through a period of six straight years without a playoff appearance, making the regular-season meetings between the two clubs seem more like a forced event than anything else.
Let’s be honest: no one cared about watching Larry Nance Jr., Timofey Mozgov and Jordan Clarkson battle Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford and Jae Crowder.
Fortunately, both franchises are good again for the first time in quite a while, but that’s exactly the problem: this classic rivalry is missing consistency. It is missing continuity.
The Celtics stunk in the ’90s. The Lakers have been uncharacteristically bad for much of the last decade.
Outside of that short run from 2008 through 2010, they really weren’t able to meet in the middle, and it made those two regular-season meetings that once meant so much seem so insignificant.
There is a possibility that the C’s and Lakers collide in June yet again, which would be one heck of a boon for the sport of basketball in general.
But at this point, what was once arguably the best rivalry in sports aside from the Yankees and Red Sox has become an irrelevant footnote that is waiting to be resuscitated.