Simply put: It’s the way the NBA should be.
Celtics – Lakers. Bad blood.
During the latest incarnation of the best rivalry in basketball, the Celtics’ Big 3 of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen went toe-to-toe with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and dudes like Ron Artest, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum. It was fun, but it lacked a lot of the pure vitriol that was exhibited when Larry Bird and Co. went up against Magic Johnson and Co. in the 1980s. Plus, the recent era of the rivalry was never really resolved – with the Celtics winning the 2008 NBA Finals in six games and the Lakers winning the 2010 NBA Finals in seven games.
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This next era of Celtics – Lakers?
It could be the best yet. Seriously.
Celtics Lakers NBA
Wilt and Russell never had beef like LeBron and Kyrie have beef. Sure, LeBron and Kyrie were all kissy-kissy at the All-Star game in February. But we have never really gotten the full story of why the two were engaged in a passive-aggressive social media brawl – the likes of which would make even your 13-year-old niece Brittany blush - for months on end last year.
Something weird went on in Cleveland in 2017. I’m convinced of it. The Cavs didn’t just trade a 25-year-old Top 10 player in his prime last summer because they wanted to appease LeBron (how’d that work out by the way?). There was something there that was irreconcilable with LeBron and Kyrie.
We never got a full dose of LeBron vs. Kyrie this past season as there was a pall cast over the Celtics showdown with the Cavs on opening night when Gordon Hayward went down with that gruesome season-ending injury. The rest of the meetings were met with a collective “what if?” from Celtics fans as injuries – including one to Kyrie himself – ultimately spelled the team’s doom.
We don’t know for sure yet if a fully healthy Kyrie-led team can beat a fully-healthy LeBron-led team, though we got a pretty good taste in the Eastern Finals when the Celtics were minutes away from disposing of Bron Bron without their best two players. Gotta think that if either Kyrie or Hayward were there, the Celtics would have been the team to earn the right to be swept by the Warriors.
Anyway, LeBron v. Kyrie is about to take a big step up in terms of drama, as the stage this drama will be played out on now is the biggest stage in the history of basketball: Celtics versus Lakers.
The way it should be.