BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers renewed their rivalry in dramatic fashion on Saturday night, and the first meeting of the season had a little extra meaning to it. It marked the first time that the Lakers played the Celtics since winning the franchise’s 17th title, tying Boston for the most in NBA history.
It was the perfect time to chat with some of the greats of the Celtics-Lakers rivalry, leading to one epic edition of WBZ-TV’s Sports Final. WBZ-TV’s Steve Burton held a lengthy video chat with some gentlemen — and some not-so-gentlemen — who have their fingerprints all over the rivalry. As expected, the two sides actually had a blast reminiscing about old times.READ MORE: Stores Are Closing But This Discount Chain Plans To Move In
Burton was joined by former Celtics Cedric Maxwell, M.L. Carr, Gerald Henderson, and Antoine Walker, while former Lakers Michael Cooper, Bob McAdoo and Metta World Peace gave a Los Angeles perspective. When seven guys sit down to chat hoops, you’re going to get a lot from the conversations that take place. All of it was both interesting and fascinating, though some of it was not always suitable for younger audiences. (We’re looking at you, Max.)
Even At 17?
One thing that was apparent throughout the hour-long chat was that Cedric Maxwell really doesn’t like the Los Angeles Lakers. He tipped things off by taking a shot at the franchise’s 17 titles, saying that a few of them do not belong in Los Angeles.
“The Lakers don’t have 17 championships,” said Max, throwing down the gauntlet early on. “The championships they got, three or four of them belong to Minneapolis. Let’s start there.”
This is not a new concept, with many pointing out that the franchise’s first five titles (1949, 1950, 1952, 1953 and 1954) came when the team called Minneapolis their home. In fact, the Los Angeles Lakers didn’t even count those titles in their grand total until they started to inch closer and closer to Boston’s championship totals at the start of this century.
“Cooper, I don’t hear you saying anything,” Maxwell chirped at Michael Cooper, as he did throughout the chat.
“I was letting you finish. To me, chips are chips,” said Cooper, who spent all 12 of his NBA seasons with the Lakers and won five titles with the franchise. “I don’t care if they come from Rhode Island. It’s the organization that wins them. You got 17, we got 17, but we’re about to break that because LeBron is going to win another one.”
“We might have to wake Red [Auerbach] up out of his grave to make some more deals or something,” said Celtics great Gerald Henderson, who won two titles with Boston during the 80s and a third with the Detroit Pistons in 1989-90. “They have some beasts out there in LA.”
The main beast in L.A. now is LeBron James, who has the Lakers title total tied with the Celtics after winning it all down in the Orlando bubble last season. Maxwell and Cooper actually agreed that James is The GOAT, based on his ability to make everyone around him a better player.
M.L. Carr is also on the bandwagon, and believes that James will soon become a rare superstar to play for both storied franchises.
“There is a chance for him to break [that tie] and get 18. As soon as he is finished getting 18 for [Los Angeles], he’ll probably end up in Boston and get 18 for them too,” laughed Carr. “The next stop is in Boston. … We’ll take LeBron at 45. He’ll still be able to do it.”
“It will never happen,” said Cooper.
Disagreeing About Today’s Super Teams
That discussion led to talk of the recent trend is the NBA, with Antoine Walker asking the legends for their thoughts on young star players join forces to form a “super team” — whether through free agency or one of them forcing a trade elsewhere. James got the trend started when he took his talents to South Beach to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and we saw it again in L.A. when Anthony Davis essentially forced a trade to the Lakers to join LeBron. Just a few weeks ago, James Harden forced his way out of Houston to land in Brooklyn with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, a duo that had been planning their team-up for years.
Walker believes that players assembling super teams is devaluing the league.READ MORE: 103-Year-Old Man Celebrates Birthday While Getting COVID Vaccine At Lowell General Hospital
“These players don’t want to compete against each other, they want to play with each other,” said ‘Toine.
Maxwell believes that players are way too friendly with each other these days. Back in his time, no one would be using the All-Star game to discuss a team-up in the future.
“Guys have just become too damn friendly. The thing that I loved about the Celtics and the Lakers of my era was the fact that we did not like each other,” he recalls. “They did not like M.L. Carr, and he’s still not liked in L.A. to this day. I love that. Bob McAdoo was the only guy that I would speak to who played for the Lakers.
“Cooper, if you had been in a fire and I drove by, and I had a glass of water, I would have drank the damn water,” Max added.
Harsh, Max. Harsh.
“You would have never gotten another night’s sleep because I would have haunted you,” said Cooper.
Not everyone agrees with Max’s assessment about super teams, though. While it wasn’t by the players’ own design or bidding, in a way, those Celtics and Lakers teams in the 80’s were essentially super teams. Whenever those two squads would take the floor, there would be at least eight All-Stars in the lineup and potentially six future Hall of Famers on the floor at a time.
“There were five, six, seven all-stars on those teams, so we can’t complain about [players joining up] at all,” said Henderson. “These guys, they’re trying to compete and trying to win a championship.
“These two organizations, excellence is the only thing people in those communities accept. You don’t see division titles or conference titles in either building. All it is are championships, and that’s what the community accepts. And that’s what the guys are trying to get to – the finals,” Henderson continued.
Not All Hatred
Frequent smack talk aside, the chat was pretty civil. There was a lot of respect between the former rivals (minus Max, of course), and Henderson said that he can still shoot the breeze with former Lakers players. Carr recently spent time with Kareem when the Lakers legend was speaking at Harvard, and spoke glowingly of his former adversary.
That didn’t sit well with Max, who will be bringing this Celtics-Lakers rivalry to the grave.
“Who are you and what have you done with ML Carr? All this damn love for the Lakers, I ain’t feeling that,” said Maxwell. “Last year I was in L.A. and we went to go do something – myself, Cooper, [Kurt] Rambis, and Brian Scalabrine – we were there in the room and who sticks their head in the room and says ‘I didn’t know you were having a meetings but [Magic] Johnson. He wanted to shake my hand and I said ‘I’m not shaking your damn hand.’ I don’t know why you’re talking about love for these guys, because I ain’t feeling it.”
It sounds like Max will always be cold to anyone who wore the purple and gold. But others don’t feel the same way, and didn’t feel that way when the two sides engaged in their classic battles. Cooper said that he always respected his Celtics counterparts, and felt the same respect coming from them.
He added that Larry Bird calling him the toughest defender he ever played against was “the best accolade I ever received”
“That’s the one thing with the Lakers and the Celtics, that we were all very professional and we all respected one another,” he said. “We made each other better because we knew we would face each other in the championship. So we had to come out and compete.MORE NEWS: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments
“The only ones talking [smack] were Max and M.L.,” Cooper added.