Somewhere between Doug Collins’ nightly reminder that he once coached a young Michael Jordan and Vince Carters not-so-magical transformation into an ice cream sandwich during the Eastern Conference Finals, an unprecedented shift took place between a pair of rival fan bases in the NBA.

Lakers and Celtics fans were… (gulp)… rooting for each other.

L.A. fans everywhere were redeeming temporary passes to ride the Celtics bandwagon through the Eastern Conference playoffs. It was a sacrilegious surprising move by the Lakers Nation – but before Red Auerbach starts bracing for an ice storm, it’s important to understand this wasn’t a hell-freezes-over moment in Lakers vs. Celtics history.

It was actually quite the opposite.

Only the most powerful forms of hatred can be temporarily disguised as affection. Lakers fans rooting for the Celtics was simply the evolution of sports hate. It was the sadistic response to a rivalry that has been sprinkled with, as my friend Zupon described it, blind, raging hatred. It was a gesture that said, “I want you to get so high on the mountain of success that when I kick you off of it, the fall will certainly crush you.”

Despite a history of abhorrence for each other, L.A. and Boston fans joined together under the unifying umbrella of mutual revulsion… and both fan bases got exactly what they asked for: A date with each other in the NBA Finals.

In a very twisted and nauseating way, it makes perfect sense. It is the Boston Celtics, not the Orlando Magic or Cleveland Cavaliers, that hold the key to the Lakers redemption.

All week, we have watched hours and hours of Lakers vs. Celtics stories. We have witnesses countless replays of Bob Cousy dribbling out the clock, Bill Russell ripping rebounds away from Wilt and Larry Bird excitedly whipping a towel on the sideline. We have heard countless reporters and numerous writers offer their perspectives on the 51-year-old rivalry. In each instance, the same general sentiment seems to be communicated:

The Boston Celtics own the Los Angeles Lakers.

Granted, the Celtics do have the most recent victory over the Lakers (’08) in the NBA Finals. However, unless we want to dive into a decade of Celtics dominance over the Lakers that ended 41 years ago (’59-’69), the Boston > Los Angeles equation couldn’t possibly be further from the truth.

Since 1970, the Lakers have more than held their own vs. the Celtics in the NBA Finals (2-2, .500). After losing Game 7 to Boston in ’84, Magic and the Showtime Lakers responded by beating the Celtics in the NBA Finals twice in just three seasons (’85, ’87). If you really want to talk about history, the Lakers have won 2 of the last 3 vs. Boston in the Finals – not to mention almost doubling them in the NBA championships department (10-6) during that same duration.

Now for the million dollar question… What does this have to do with the ’10 NBA Finals?

Absolutely nothing.

No matter how you try to spin the historical significance of the Lakers vs. Celtics match-up, there is only one thing we can really be absolutely sure of:

This will be an era-defining series for both franchises.

For the Lakers, it is a rare opportunity at sports redemption; for the Celtics, an opportunity to erase all doubt. For Kobe Bryant, it is a chance to fortify himself as an NBA legend; for Paul Pierce, a chance to forever tarnish the career of a Laker-great. For every person involved, the prospect of etching their name into the archives of NBA history.

When the dust settles, the interviews stop and the teams take the court at Staples Center tomorrow night; they will be playing for more than just the Larry O’Brien trophy. They will be playing for the right to author the latest chapter in a rivalry that has transcended their sport.

L.A. vs. Boston, Good vs. Evil, Lakers vs. Celtics.

Exactly how it should be.

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Be sure to follow Jason on Twitter for LIVE commentary during the NBA Finals!

  • lakerville213

    jason,

    there is nothing in the world that i want more than for the lakers to beat the celtics. ive been watching every youtube video, every espn article, every expert analysis, refreshing TLN a million times over for the past couple of days. ive specifically been watching the lakers meltdown in game 4 of the 08 finals, ray allen’s cheap shot at the espys, and paul pierce hoisting that trophy to relive the pain once again. hell i even watched bill simmons yak on jimmy kimmel live. i want revenge badddd. great article as usual. let’s get em tomorrow.

    sincerely,
    lakerville213

  • e-bucher

    you gotta be a bit more ambitious lakerville213…

  • lakerville213

    hahaha…teach me ur ways e-bucher…

  • e-bucher

    it’s gonna cost you a pretty penny…

  • lakerville213

    dude…dont tell me ur the guy who painted the burned police cruiser

  • e-bucher

    foshow

  • lakerbunny

    ONE OF BOSTON’S UNCLE TOM’S IS RUNNING HIS DIKC LICKERS AGAIN! WHY OF COURSE IT’S THE OMNI-WHEELCHAIRED PAUL PUSS! GET BACK ON YOUR ORGAN GRINDER’S ORGAN AND DANCE FOR THE MAN, PAUL! ALL THE BOSTON FANS YOU PRAISE DON’T WANT YOU LIVING ANYWHERE THE FUKC NEAR THEM! HEAR THE MUSIC AND DANCE PAUL! THE MAN EXPECTS IT UNTIL HE’S DONE WITH YOU! http://bit.ly/a6iLTr

  • mr.jim

    Bring them on. Couldn’t believe the fans were chanting beat LA before the game was over, “Pride comes before a fall”. A sweep would be awesome, but if not, would love to beat them on there home court so Lakers in six.

    • Reality

      2-3-2 format means game 6 at LA. Just sayin!

  • Laker4 Life

    Let’s get those celdicks. It’s showtime. Kobe will be finals MVP, lakers will win 16th title, and kobe will get his 5th ring. Can’t wait till tomorrow! Lakers in 6.
    Go Lakers !

  • avcpl

    unless–god forbid–there is a devestating injury, there really is no reason at all for the Lakers to lose. NO REASON AT ALL.

  • kb24dbest

    This matchup is as even as it can be and is the ultimate matchup. This final is going to be tough and will go down as one of the best final series of all time. For lakers to win the title, they need to play TEAM DEFENSE and TEAM CONTRIBUTION.
    A lot are on the line:
    Phil future
    Kobe’s legacy
    Lakers/Celtics rivalry.
    Can’t wait to get the ball rolling. Ive made my predictions but I wouldn’t bet on it because I can see this series go either way. Go Lakers!

  • Marwan Deletes My Comments

    The heavens have lined-up for this Laker squad this post-season. This is truly a team of destiny.
    Have you Laker fans thought about all the things that have gone “right” for this team this post-season? Check this out:
    .
    1. The Thunder poured cold water on sleeping beauty in the 1st round. Woke the guys up and they started ballin’.
    .
    2. Utah beat Denver, who was built to beat LA.
    .
    3. San Antonio beat Dallas, who can matchup with LA’s length.
    .
    4. Phoenix beat Portland, who play LA tough especially in Portland.
    All three teams that are tougher match-ups for LA go down in 1st round.
    .
    5. Memet Okur goes down, LA sweeps Jazz.
    .
    6. Phoenix beats San Antonio who’s Championship experience is strong.
    .
    7. Boston beats Cleveland, who had home court throughout.
    .
    8. Boston beats Orlando, who had home court over LA and revenge on their minds.
    .
    9. LA now holds home court for the visiting Celtics. Team with home court in the Finals almost always wins.
    .
    10. LA can now avenge ’08, Kobe wins #5 + Finals MVP.
    .
    Eventhough LA could have won any series againsts any mentioned teams above, the importance of the “easier” road was that Kobe was able to rest and get a little bit healthier. As a result, the Mamba is now ready for the ultimate battle and is looking for a better showing this time around.
    .
    Lakers in 7.

    • http://www.twitter.com/TLN24 Marwan Marzina

      Theres no reason for me to delete your comments if you write comments like that =) I used to delete your comments because you’d troll on the site and write meaningless comments.

  • dracul

    Keys to the series:

    Lakers absolutely MUST win the first 2 games at home.

    Contain Rondo’s drives.

    Ron must hold Pierce to below 14 points. It would be nice if he could score between 10 and 14 per game too.

    Stealing game 5 is the most likely to happen, since this is BaSternball so they will try everything they can to make it 2-2 if the Lakers are up 2-0 on them. So game 5 will be the most likely to be evenly reffed.

    Lakers in 6 if everything goes according to plan.

  • xtro

    let’s go lakers! protect the homecourt. sweep the lepercahuns!

  • Kobe24Bauer

    The key is win game 1 tonight. That will set the tone and PJ is 47-0 when he wins game 1.
    This is a must win.
    Also we need to steal a game in Boston to close this damn thing at Staples.
    Lakers in 6