Paul Pierce reminds us why Celtics-Lakers is still the best rivalry in the NBA

Former Boston Celtic Brandon Bass recently signed a free agent deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. All of Boston, myself included, was happy for Bass, whose professional attitude was revered among his teammates and coaching staff.

Feb 22, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Jordan Hill (27) defends Boston Celtics center Brandon Bass (30) in the second half of the game at Staples Center. Lakers won 118-111 in OT. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Interestingly enough, Bass’ move to Los Angeles somewhat diffused tensions between Celtics and Lakers fans. I recall immediately telling one of my friends, a Lakers fan, how lucky he was to have Bass on his favorite team, how Bass could serve as a role model to Julius Randle, and how LA had a bright future ahead. I thought about how it would be strange to see a Celtic in purple and gold, but couldn’t help but feel I had to root for Bass, who gave so much to the Celtics during his stint in Boston.

With neither team even close to championship contention, the storied Celtics and Lakers rivalry seems to be fizzling out. How could Celtics fans despise a team with likable characters like Bass, Lou Williams, Roy Hibbert, and even the NBA’s best cheerleader, Robert Sacre? How could Lakers fans show any animosity to a team whose best player is a 5’9″ sixth man who was once the last pick in the NBA draft?

And then, boom.

Like the daggers of his signature step-back elbow jumper, Paul Pierce reminded us all that the Celtics and Lakers do, indeed, have the best rivalry in basketball.

When talking about signing with the Clippers, Pierce said, “I grew up a Laker fan but playing on all Boston Celtic teams. There’s no way I could go there, so [playing for the Clippers] was the next best choice.”

That’s right. The Celtics-Lakers rivalry transcends hometowns, childhood fandom, and free agent destinations.

Paul Pierce reminded us all of NBA history. It made us remember Magic’s sweeping hook and Kevin McHale’s hard foul on Kurt Rambis. His jab at the Lakers brought back visions of old footage we’ve seen of Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell skying for rebounds and swatting shots. He helped Celtics fans warmly recall one of the best days of our lives, July 17, 2008, when the Celtics destroyed the Lakers in a clinching game 6, bringing banner 18 to Boston. At the same time, he opened the slowly scabbing wounds of game 7 of the 2010 finals.

Leave it to Paul Pierce to remind us of the truth; no matter who wears the green and white and who wears the purple and gold, Celtics-Lakers will always be the greatest rivalry in the NBA.