The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers saved the NBA during the 80s, creating the biggest and most intense rivalry in the league. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson led their respective teams to compete in the NBA Finals several times, clashing with one another on more than one occasion.
One of their most memorable duels happened in 1984 when the Celtics and Lakers clashed in the biggest series of all. The Greens took the championship in seven games, securing the title with a hard-fought win that hurt the Lakers really deeply.
The Purple and Gold were ready to take another championship and the first time they ran into the Celtics in the Finals, they looked like heavy favorites to win it all. However, when the game started, things were different, and the C's took advantage of every mistake the Lakers made.
Last year, during a conversation with Robert Parish, Michael Cooper opened up on how painful that loss was and what it meant for the Lakers. First, Parish explained that he knows how that felt, as the Celtics went to the Finals five times and lost two of the series against the Lakers, their biggest rivals.
"When I was a Celtic, we got to the championship five times,” he said. “We won three. Those two losses still cross my mind from time to time. That’s the ultimate prize. All your work and sacrifice and dedication, focus. That is your reward, gratification.”
When Cooper discussed that first showdown between the two most successful teams in the association, he revealed that Magic Johnson vowed he'll never lose to the Celtics again.
“We were in the locker room, and it was just horrible, man,” Cooper said. “We were just sitting there, and Magic and I were the last two to take a shower. We were sitting in the corner — I remember this vividly — the water’s running, and Magic said this. He said, “You know what, Coop? We will never lose to these motherf****** again.
“It was the way he said it. When your leaders say something a certain way, it makes you sit up and pay attention. And you know we came back, and we had you guys focused, number one, from Day One.”
Johnson had a hard time during that series, starring in one of the worst moments of his career. He earned the nickname 'Tragic' for making crucial mistakes that would eventually cost his team the series. It was really tough for him, but the legendary point guard made it clear he wouldn't have the same fate against the Celtics again.
Bird and Magic clashed three times in the Finals, with Larry Legend winning the first duel. In 1985 and 1987, Johnson took revenge, beating the team that ruined their chances in one of the most memorable Finals of all time. Magic kept his promise and took revenge on the C's while becoming the greatest point guard of all time.
**Credit for idea: Sports Casting**