Basketball has grown to become one of the most popular sports in the world and a lot of it has to do with the growing popularity of the National Basketball Association (NBA)
Player and team rivalries have played a huge part in moulding the NBA as we know it today, but one rivalry stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Since their first meeting in in the 1959 Finals, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers (previously Minneapolis Lakers) have met a record 12 times in the NBA Finals with the two teams the dominant forces in the Eastern and Western Conferences respectively.
No two teams have met more often in the deciding fixtures of a season than the two NBA heavyweights and with 33 titles between them (17 for the Celtics and 16 for the Lakers), they have just seven less than the combined total racked up by the other NBA teams over the years.
The Lakers were the first of the two teams to achieve NBA success and won five NBA championships before the Celtics got their first in 1957. That victory would be the start of the greatest dynasty in American sporting history.
Led by the legendary Bill Russel, the Celtics would win 11 NBA championships over the next 13 years, beating the Lakers in seven (yes SEVEN) of those finals.
In fact, the Celtics would beat their old rivals to make that run eight in the 1984 finals, but that would all finally change for Lakers fans a year later with the Lakers the overall dominant force in the 80's. Led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson, the Lakers would defeat a Celtics team comprising of notable Hall of Famers Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish 4-2 in the 1985 finals.
They'd meet again in the 1987 finals and again, Pat Riley's team would emerge victorious in six games. Incredibly, neither the Celtics or Lakers would win a NBA title through the 90's with either the Detroit Pistons (2), Chicago Bulls (6), Houston Rockets (2) and San Antonio Spurs (1) winning the NBA finals between 1989-1999.
The emergence of a certain Kobe Bryant would change all that and with Phil Jackson as their coach and the legendary Jerry West as their GM, the Lakers would build another dynasty bolstered by Shaquille O'Neal which would claim a three-peat of NBA titles between 2000-2003.
The Celtics-Lakers rivalry would finally be renewed in the 2008 NBA finals, and with a roster that could be considered as the first ever super-team consisting of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo the Boston franchise would ultimately emerge victorious.
The Lakers would bounce back to claim another title a year later before exacting revenge on their fierce rivals in the 2010 NBA finals with a thrilling 4-3 win over the Celtics in which Bryant and Pau Gasol played a starring role.
While both teams haven't reached a NBA final since with the Golden State Warriors the dominant team of the last decade, there is brewing evidence that the two basketball giants are on a collision course in the near future.
With LeBron James and Anthony Davis in LA, the Lakers look set for a finals appearance this season while the growing talent of Jason Tatum could well propel the Celtics into the finals spotlight over the next few seasons.
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