Dynasties: Lakers 80s Dynasty Top 10
The Lakers and Celtics have met a total of 10 times in the NBA Finals throughout their storied histories. Some say their rivalry is the greatest in all of sports. Dip into NBA.com video vault to experience some of the defining moments from their Finals matchups.
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Playoff Top 10s
: James Worthy
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| Rivalry: The History
Finals Top 10s: 1984
1962 Finals, Celtics 4, Lakers 3
Game 3 - Westís Steal/Winning Layup
With the score tied at 115 with four seconds remaining in Game 3, Sam Jones of the Celtics tried to inbound the ball at halfcourt to Bob Cousy. The Lakersí Jerry West stepped in, deflected the ball and raced downcourt for a game-winning layup at the horn. West was mobbed by teammates and the L.A. Sports Arena crowd, and carried off the court after giving the Lakers a 2-1 series lead. The Celtics would eventually win the series in an overtime Game 7.
Game 5 - Elgin Baylorís 61-Point, 22-Rebound Performance vs. Celtics
The Los Angeles Lakers were making their first Finals appearance and it looked as if they were going to make it a success thanks to Elgin Baylor. The forward poured in a Finals record (and then-playoffs record) 61 points against the Celtics in the Boston Garden, giving the Lakers a 3-2 series lead.
Game 7 - Bill Russellís 30-Point, 40-Rebound Performance, Frank Selvy Missed Shot, Cousy Dribbles Out Clock
After Frank Selvy missed a game-winning shot for the Lakers at the end of regulation, the Celtics prevailed 110-107 in OT. Bill Russell had 30 points and 40 rebounds, and Bob Cousy famously scurried around the backcourt with a clock-burning display of right-handed dribbling.
1966 Finals, Celtics 4, Lakers 3
Out on Top: Auerbach Retires After Ninth Title; 1966 NBA Finals
When you win nine NBA titles, it is hard to critique the job done by the coach. For legendary Celtics coach Red Auerbach, though, his final championship win may have been his best. Taking a Celtics team that hadn't won its division for the first time in a decade, and leading them past a Sixers team that they had lost to six of ten times in the regular season 4-1 in the Eastern Finals should have been enough. However, with Auerbach having stated that the 1966 season would be his last and an announcement after their Game 1 loss that Bill Russell would take over the team the following year, the Celts bounced back to win the title in seven games. "It was a great way to go out," said Auerbach.
1969 Finals, Celtics 4, Lakers 3
Russell Runs into Sunset with an Improbable 11th Title
The Celtics, widely written off due to advancing age, won just 48 games in the regular season, finishing fourth in the East. But they dumped Philadelphia, took the Playoff neophyte Knicks in six games, and stunned the basketball world by pulling out one last Championship, defeating the Lakers in seven games--the finale a two-point win in Los Angeles, as hundreds of balloons which had been held in netting near the ceiling in anticipation of a Lakers victory celebration never got a chance to be unleashed. It marked the Celtics' 11th championship in 13 season
Game 4 - Sam Jones Picket Fence Play
In the closing seconds of Game 4, the Celtics ran a real-life version of the Hoosiers "picket fence". Sam Jones came off the screens and got a shooter's roll to beat the Lakers 89-88, tying the series 2-2 and setting up one of the great upsets in Finals history.
Game 7 - Nelson's Shot, Russellís Championship Farewell
The Celtics were watching a 17-point fourth-quarter lead slip away against the heavily favored Lakers at the Forum. With the lead cut to 103-102 in the final minutes, the ball was knocked away from John Havlicek, into the hands of Don Nelson at the free-throw line. Nellie put up a shot that hit the back of the rim and got the ultimate shooter's bounce: straight down and straight through the net. From there, Boston held on to win 108-106 as Bill Russell retired with the most improbable of his 11 titles.
1984 Finals, Celtics 4, Lakers 3
Celtics Win First Bird-Magic Finals Showdown
For four seasons they had danced around each other in the NBA, meeting only twice each year in regular-season games. But Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were always aware of each other.
"Championship rings ... I live for them," Bird would say. Magic did, too. A showdown seemed inevitable -- and it was. More: Finals Top 10
Game 2 - G. Henderson Steal Vs. Lakers; Game 2
After losing Game 1 at home, the Celtics were in a state of desperation at Boston Garden in Game 2: the Lakers had the ball and a 113-111 lead with 18 seconds left. Then, Gerald Henderson saved the day for Boston, stealing James Worthy's soft crosscourt pass and driving in for a game-tying layup. The Celtics would go on the win the game 124-121 in OT, and the series in seven games.
Game 4 - Celtics 129-125 OT Classic Over the Lakers
The Lakers took an early lead and seemed ready to run off with another victory. From the bench, M.L. Carr screamed at his teammates to become more physical. Kevin McHale complied in the second quarter when he clotheslined Kurt Rambis on a breakaway layup, causing a ruckus under the basket. The incident awakened the Celtics and gave the Lakers reason to pause. Los Angeles later held a five-point lead with less than a minute to play. But Robert Parish stole a bad pass from Magic, and the Lakers' point guard later missed two key free throws, allowing the Celtics to force an overtime. Late in the extra period James Worthy faced a key free-throw attempt. Carr hooted loudly from the bench that he would miss and Worthy did; Maxwell stepped up and greeted him with the choke sign. The Celtics vaulted to a 129-125 win, thanks to Bird's game winner over Magic, which tied the series again, giving Boston the home-court edge. More: Watch the Game 4 Pregame Show Opening
Game 7 - Cedric Maxwell Delivers
The entire city of Boston was juiced up for Game 7. The Lakers needed a police escort to get from their hotel to the Garden. Cedric Maxwell, meanwhile, told his teammates to put the load on his back because he was ready to carry them. And he did. He presented a high-action, low-post puzzle that the Lakers never solved. He demoralized them on the offensive boards. He drew fouls. By halftime, he had made 11 of 13 free throws. When they tried to double-team him, he passed them silly. He finished with 24 points, eight assists and eight rebounds.
1985 Finals, Lakers 4, Celtics 2
Game 6- Kareem & Lakers End Boston Garden Curse
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar absorbed his share of the blame for L.A.'s crushing 148-114 Game 1 loss to Boston in the Memorial Day Massacre. Then the proud 38-year-old responded with a performance that made him the oldest Finals MVP in NBA history. "Cap" scored 29 points in L.A.'s series-clinching 111-100 road win in Game 6 -- the Lakers' first Finals win over Boston after eight series defeats, and the Celtics' only taste of Finals elimination on the floor of the Boston Garden. More: Kareem's Top 10 Finals Plays
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1987 Finals, Lakers 4, Celtics 2
Game 4 - Magicís Junior, Junior Sky-Hook Beats Boston
With the Lakers up 2-1, Game 4 in Boston was a pivotal one. Win, and the Celtics were even with their long-time foes. Lose, and it would be an uphill battle to win another title. Down 106-105 In the closing seconds coming out of a timeout, Johnson took the inbounds pass near the left sideline. He thought about launching a jumper, but lanky Kevin McHale was in his way. So he dribbled toward the key, with McHale in pursuit and Bird and Robert Parish moving over to join him. Before they could collapse on him at the foul line, however, Johnson tossed an old-fashioned running hook shot that nestled through the net, giving the Lakers the lead. After Bird missed an attempt at the buzzer, the Lakers had a 107-106 victory; they went on to win the series in six games. Afterwards, Johnson labeled the shot "my junior, junior sky-hook," after Abdul-Jabbar's favorite weapon.
More: Finals Top 10