To an extent, covering the NBA in the 1980s meant covering the Lakers and the Celtics. For the better part of that decade, I could set a preseason agenda of travel to L.A. and Boston -- with some side trips to Chicago (a guy named
As you've been reading (perhaps ad nauseum) here and other places, there was nothing like Lakers-Celtics. It goes without saying that their rivalry made it special, but the personalities of the players, coaches, execs and even fans made them newsworthy on their own.
As the Finals scene switches to Boston for the next three games, my mind switches to my top 10 moments of covering these teams -- together and apart -- from two different eras, but mostly from that one long ago.
Between games of the 1987 Finals, Lakers superfan
On a regular-season trip I took to L.A. with the Celtics during the 1990-91 season, the actor, fresh off the success of
Costner seemed generally flattered, and, later, on the team bus, Celtics broadcaster
"Oh, that," McHale said. "Tell you the truth, I didn't see it."
(A wise decision, by the way.)
But he made his bones in the third quarter of Game 6 of the '87 Finals when he got his hand on a lazy pass from Kevin (McHale, not Costner) to
I was in Los Angeles for Game 1 of the above-mentioned series when that week's
Two days before I was to fly to Los Angeles to do a story on the fading
"I, uh, could take it off Kareem," I said. "It's removable."
"I'd appreciate it," he said.
So I did. Kareem did not suffer fools -- even limping fools -- gladly.
Midway through the 1985-86 season,
His confidence defined the Celtics of that season, which ended with Boston's winning a championship.
This one is obvious because you've seen 100 replays of it. Game 4 of the '87 Finals in the balance at Boston Garden. Lakers trail 106-105. Magic has it near the sideline. He fakes a 20-footer and takes it toward the middle. My press seat was on that baseline, and I can still see the play unfold in my mind's eye. McHale and
Had the Celtics and Phoenix Suns not gone to three overtimes in an incredible Game 5 in 1976, I would call Game 4 of the '84 Finals the best championship series game ever. But it was the best I ever saw, ending in a 129-125 Boston victory in L.A. that paved the way for the Celtics' eventual seven-game victory. What everyone remembers was McHale's clothesline of Lakers forward
As soon as the Celtics had routed the Lakers to win the title in '08, I thought of my story idea: Boston GM
"Any chance you'll be in the office tomorrow morning?" I asked Ainge on the TD Garden floor after the game, as the delirium went on all around us.
"Come by at 11," he said.
He was already there, waiting, when I showed up, and we reminisced for two hours, his mind a steel trap for facts from two decades earlier. A
The relationship of these two superstars has been laid out completely in recent months, in
But I remember interviewing Magic in Barcelona during the 1992 Olympics and asking him what he remembered most about the aftermath of his announcement that he had the AIDS virus, which had occurred about nine months earlier.
"I remember how much it affected Larry," he said, tearing up just a little.