Lakers vs. Celtics Game 7: Third Time's a Charm for Los Angeles

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Lakers vs. Celtics Game 7: Third Time's a Charm for Los Angeles
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals to win their 16th NBA championship.

For casual fans, it's a simple statement that recaps another year of NBA basketball. For avid followers of the sport, it's much more significant.

The Lakers-Celtics rivalry is likely the most storied rivarly in the history of professional basketball. Many could argue that it's the most storied sports rivalry of all-time.

The bitter hatred between these teams are clearly known. The eleven meetings of these two franchises have been filled with emotion and contempt.

Most of the time, the Lakers have lost. With a 3-8 record, Los Angeles looked like a glitzy punching bag for the Celtics to beat around.

The only glimpses of success against the Celtics came in the 1980s. After a heartbreaking, 7-game Finals loss against Boston, the Lakers came back with a vengeance.

In 1985, revenge was sweet. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar used the last of his prime to push the Lakers to their first Finals win against the Celtics.

In 1987, the domination ensued. This time around, Magic Johnson led the Lakers to a victory over the Celtics.

Afterwards, though, the success of both teams dwindled. The Lakers were hit especially hard. They lost Magic Johnson to early retirement, and eventually became a team that struggled to go deep into the playoffs.

The year 2000 changed all of that. A younger Shaquille O'Neal and equally youthful gentlemen by the name of Kobe Bryant started a new dynasty in the new millenium.

The Lakers were back on top. They won three consecutive NBA championships and advanced to the Finals four times in five years.

After that, a difficult period happened. Kobe Bryant was left to lead a team with Shaquille O'Neal.

He fully established himself as the team's best player. Even though he was the backbone of the franchise, the NBA title was elusive.

The Lakers missed the playoffs in 2005 after losing the Finals to the Pistons the year before. They made it back to the postseason for two years in a row, only to blow early leads in the first round to the Phoenix Suns.

In 2008, things changed. The Lakers' additions of Pau Gasol along with the return of Derek Fisher drove Los Angeles to the Finals.

And then, the bitterness returned.

The Lakers were defeated by a revived Celtics franchise led by a new "Big Three". Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen filled the void they desired to cement their Hall of Fame careers.

But, their emotional first title came at the expense of Kobe's reassurance that he is a key to the Lakers' success. Their first title came at the expense of the serenity of Lakers fans who have already endured seven previous losses.

The eighth was just as painful.

2009 filled the void that Kobe Bryant needed. The Lakers returned with a vengeance and won the NBA championship in an easy five game series against the Orlando Magic.

All was right in LA. Or so it was thought.

The 2010 NBA Finals brought on a new mission. The Lakers were facing them again.

The Lakers were facing them, those demons in green and white. The Lakers were facing them, the ones who caused their suffering in eight championship matchups. The Lakers were facing them, those terrible Boston Celtics.

And the Lakers wanted revenge.

Kobe Bryant had never forgotten the aftermath of the 2008 Finals loss. The Lakers' bus was apparently pelted with debris by the rowdy Celtics fans. The pain of losing was not enough for the Celtic nation; they wanted a resonating reminder of their dominance over the Lakers.

And so, the Lakers had something to do. They had already proven themselves to be worthy of an NBA championship series. Their presence in the Finals proved that.

The Lakers didn't need to worry about winning a first title. They were the defending champions, and have won 14 other rings.

The priorities on the list were high, but none was higher than doing the one thing that mattered when the situation called for it: Beat Boston.

And in seven games that were decided on rebounds and excellent team play, the Lakers did just that.

They accomplished many things in this third win against the Celtics. Many people can point out the achievements.

For Kobe Bryant, it was a fifth championship. Not many Lakers can say that they have won five titles. Even fewer can claim they were a main player in each one.

With a fifth title, Kobe Bryant has as many rings as Lakers greats George Mikan, Magic Johnson, and James Worthy.

A sixth would make him synonymous ring-wise to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. And many would can even out that Kobe has as many as Michael Jordan.

For the Lakers, it's solid proof that they can go the distance and defeat the Celtics. If anything could alleviate the Lakers' stinging 1984 loss to the Celtics, it's a reversal that's done 26 years later.

Now, the Celtics are looking on in silence as the Lakers claimed a competitive seventh game to win yet another title.

If the first two wins were the epitome of their rivalry with the Celtics, then this third one is their greatest.

For the first time ever, the Lakers have defeated the Celtics in seven.

For the first time ever, the Lakers of this new generation have tasted victory against them, the terrible Boston Celtics. Young Lakers fans can now remember their experiences in the great rivalry as well.

And for the first time in 23 years, Los Angeles can say that they beat Boston at what they do best.

 

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