L.A. Times: If, as Jerry West says, the NBA’s greatest rivalry wasn’t a rivalry at first since the Lakers never won in the ’60s and the Boston Celtics never lost, it already seemed bigger than mere life or death, at least in West’s life.
Nor did the zeal diminish in their ’80s rematches when the Showtime Lakers and the Larry Bird Celtics battled on even terms.
It was the alpha and omega of rivalries, encompassing all human emotions, starting, of course, with hate.
The Lakers hated the Celtics and their blustering leader, Red Auerbach, but then who didn’t?
No one hated Auerbach more than Lakers Coach Pat Riley, whose movie star looks masked his knife-between-the-teeth drive. Riley believed every horror story about Red, once ordering his team’s water barrel emptied in Boston Garden.
Riley wanted his players to hate everything about the Celtics, gathering his players to ask if they knew what a Celtic was.
“Finally, Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] raised his hand,” Riley wrote. “He said the Celtics were a warring race of Danes.
“I had to explain that they were also a cunning, secretive race.”