Back in the 1980s, the era that many people still believe was the heyday of professional basketball, the NBA world revolved
around its East coast and West coast poles – namely, the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers.
With Larry Bird and Magic Johnson doing their best to make the NBA Finals must-see TV, the Celtics and Lakers combined to win 8 of the 10 NBA Finals that took place during the decade, forging a rivalry that still exists to this day.
Well, if you consider trying to out-tank one another a rivalry, that is.
Just last night, for example, the Lakers pulled off an incredible case of, “Anything they can do, we can do better.” Boston had just laid an egg against the Golden State Warriors Wednesday night, getting thumped at home by 20 to a Warriors squad that should have been a little worse-for-wear following a hard-fought win in Indiana. Everything about the Celtics that night screamed “Tank!” – except for the play of Kelly Olynyk, god bless him! – and that loss was good enough to drop the Celtics to 20-41, 4th-worst in the East.
Enter the Lakers, who taught Boston a thing or two about tanking by doubling the Celtics’ margin of defeat and adding 8 points just for good measure in a horrendous 142-94 drubbing at the hands of the good team in LA this season, the Clippers.
That’s professional-grade tanking right there, Celtics fans!
Anyone who thought it was time to give the “Beat LA!” chants a rest have been deceived, then, as LA is sitting in last place out West with a 21-41 record – a mere single game separating the two teams in the race for a top 3 pick in the upcoming NBA draft lottery. Now more than ever, the Boston Celtics need to prove to the NBA world that they are better than the Los Angeles Lakers when it comes to all aspects of professional basketball, including losing.
While it may not matter with a pool of prospects as deep and as talented as this year’s crop appears, I’m sure Celtics fans everywhere want to see Boston picking before LA in the 2014 NBA Draft, if only to hear Lakers’ fans spend months complaining about Boston stole their man out from under their noses! Otherwise, we’ll always feel like LA stole our guy, which will really suck if the Lakers win another championship before the Cs hang the 18th banner from the rafters of TD Garden.
Still, it’s good to know that, even in a season as dreadful as this one, the Celtics and Lakers continue to find ways to win, and lose, together. It’s a marriage made in heaven.