Lakers, Celtics Top 10 Greatest NBA Finals Moments
Throughout the course of NBA and sports history, no two teams have played each other more for a shot at a championship.
Through each generation of games, great players and moments have evolved into making this such a storied rivalry.
Players like Bill Russell, Elgin Baylor, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird offer just a small sampling of the people who helped make this rivalry so great.
And lest we forget coaches Red Auerbach, Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, K.C. Jones and more.
With the amount of games played, talented athletes and minds, something special always seems to happen.
These are the Top 10 Greatest Lakers/Celtics NBA Finals Moments.
Number 10: Now that's a Hard Foul
Kareem Abdul Jabbar tossed the ball ahead to James Worthy.
Worthy found a streaking Kurt Rambis on the other side.
And Rambis found himself slammed into the ground.
On a fast break opportunity, Kevin McHale clotheslined the streaking Rambis. And from that moment forward even more blood was boiling.
The Celtics evened the series at 2-2 that day and went on to win it in 7.
A big reason why was...
Number 9: Where did the Magic Go?
Dubbed as "Tragic" Johnson after the 1984 Finals Series, Earvin Johnson had lost some of the Magic.
Throughout the whole series he made uncharacteristic errors and in a series so close, this was something the Lakers couldn't afford.
In game 4, he made a bad pass down the stretch to Robert Parish. He missed 2 key free throws in OT in the loss that day as well.
Then game 7. A chance for real Magic. Unfortunately for Johnson, after the Lakers had battled back down from 14 points, he made costly turnovers.
He fumbled the ball, made poor decisions and in the end his team lost the series leaving himself and Lakers fans in a state of shock.
Number 8: Garnett gets his title
The rejuvenation of a rivalry in 2008.
Kevin Garnett had come to Boston with one goal in mind. To win an NBA title. He had failed miserably for years, but finally found himself in a situation where it was possible.
The Celtics came out determined to start the year and that didn't change one bit to end it.
Garnett played each game as if it was his last, snatching down double-digit rebounds in each. He played physical and had his "I will destroy you" look throughout the whole series tattooed on his face.
Number 7: West Winner
Even back in 1962 the Boston Garden was hosting this classic rivalry.
In game 3, Jerry West made a game winning steal and layup with four seconds to go. The score was 115-115.
The Celtics tried to pass the ball into Bob Cousy, but West made a break for the ball at the perfect moment. He sprinted to the basket and the Lakers won the game.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, the series was won by Celtics, despite another memorable moment...
Number 6: Baylor Scores Lots of Points
In 1962, Elgin Baylor decided it was time for the Lakers to make their move. Not a better time than a pivotal game 5.
He blew up for 61 points, an NBA finals record that still stands today.
The Lakers won a close battle of 126-121 and took a 3-2 series lead over the Celtics. Baylor's performance still stands as one of the top superstar moments of this series.
Number 5: Sam Jones Game Winner
The Celtics were down 2-1 heading into this home game and, in the final moments, found themselves down 88-87.
John Havlicek found Sam Jones on top of the key. Jones grabbed the ball and launched. He was off balance and rising off his wrong foot.
He sent up a prayer and it was answered with a yes. After bouncing against the rim, the ball went right through the hoop sending the Celtics into a celebration.
The series was tied at 2-2 and it led to another great game 7 down the road...
Number 4: 1969 NBA Finals Game 7
The game had all you could ask for.
Superstar players, premature celebration, a comeback and a crazy shot.
The Celtics were on the road in L.A and jumped out to a ferocious lead. The team looked destined to beat the Lakers in a game 7 on the road.
Then the Lakers slowly made their way back. They found themselves down 1 with just over a minute to play. Then they knocked the ball away from John Havlicek.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, the ball found itself in Don Nelson's hands. He was right at the free throw line and launched a shot.
The ball hit the back of the rim went straight in the air, rose above the back board and then came straight down into the net. The Celtics extended their lead and the Lakers were deflated—just like the balloons the Lakers had ready to go in the rafters.
Bill Russell retired as an 11 time NBA champion as his Celtics won 108-106.
Number 3: Gerald Henderson Steal
It looked like the Lakers would finally get over the Celtics winning 7 straight series.
It was early in the series, but if the Lakers could somehow get up 2-0, the series was theirs.
Instead, the Lakers played sloppy down the stretch, a common theme for the whole 1984 series. The ball was inbounded to Magic Johnson who found James Worthy.
Worthy then made a bad decision. He tried a cross-court pass with 15 seconds to go. Henderson took the ball made a tough lay-up and helped force the game into OT.
Once in OT the Celtics came back and won on their home court and could go back to LA having at least salvaged a 1-1 series tie.
Number 2: 1962 Game 7
Perhaps the best series in this rivalry, if not for the lack of modernity. West had a game winner earlier in the series, Baylor went for 61 points, but in the end the Celtics had the last laugh.
This game started 8 straight NBA Finals series wins over the Lakers, not changing until 1985.
What makes this game so special is every aspect involved.
Bill Russell grabbed 40 rebounds that night. Only tying his own record. He also added 30 points to go with those numbers.
The Lakers had a shot to win. Frank Selvy pulled up for a baseline jumper at the end of regulation, missed and forced the game into OT.
From there the Celtics were able to take enough of a lead ending with Bob Cousy feverishly running around keeping the clock moving until no time remained.
Number 1: It's a Kind of Magic, The Hook
True Story: Magic Johnson tried to teach me this same sky hook as an 11 year old in 1995. He didn't succeed.
Luckily for him, he only had to worry about his own shot. And in 1987 he proved his arsenal was fully loaded.
As time winded down the Lakers found themselves down 1.
Magic came off a Kareem Abdul Jabbar screen. He received the inbound pass, made a small pump fake and then made his move.
He had Kevin McHale on him and darted straight for the middle of the court. Instead of driving all the way inside, Magic found himself inside the top of the paint.
He began to launch off his left foot as three Celtics merged around him. Then over McHale and Robert Parrish, he launched a perfect hook shot.
The ball swished through the net, Lakers took a 107-106 lead with 2 seconds left and the 1980s rejuvenation of Lakers/Celtics essentially came to an end.
The Lakers took a 3-1 series lead and would win the championship yet again. Their final one over the Celtics in the 80s.