One of the reasons the NBA is so popular today is because of these two dominant franchises. Together, they have won the championship 30 times out of 61 seasons. After this year, it will be 31 out of 62, exactly half of the time. The Boston Celtics hold a record 16 championships, while the Lakers are in second with 14. The Lakers have been to the Finals a record 29 times, while the Celtics have won their Conference title a second best 20 times. Many legendary players of the past wore the Celtics Green and the Lakers Gold: George Mikan, Bob Cousy, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Robert Parish, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kevin McHale... With such talented players meeting in the Finals 10 years, many individual rivalries have begun:
Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain were the most dominant big men of their time, if not of all time. Watching these two go at it in the post must have been quite a treat. Too bad Wilt only played on the Lakers for one year before Bill retired.
The great Magic-Bird rivalry. These two hall-of-famers popularized the NBA and made the Finals a must-watch. Between the two of them, they won 8 chamiponships in 9 years.
Although not so much a rivalry...yet, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett are no doubt the leaders of their teams. They alone have willed their teammates to play their hardest and make it this far. Both have something to prove in this series. Kobe has to show that he can win a ring without Shaq at his side, and Kevin has to prove that he can win a ring at all. The 2008 Finals will be one for the history books, as I'm sure it'll end in an exciting Game 7. I can't wait for Thursday.
As a side note, this is also another chance for Phil Jackson to surpass Red Auerbach as the coach with the most championships. They are currently tied at 9. The good news is that Phil currently holds the record for the best playoff winning percentage, having won over 70% so far.