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Lakers/Celtics: Which franchise reigns supreme?

May 30, 2010, 4:25 PM EDT

Laker_Celtics_logos.pngLakers fans and Celtics fans do not like each other. True rivals. Some grudging respect through the hate, but both want to take each other out.

And both know they are the best franchise in the NBA. PBT’s Kurt Helin (taking the Lakers side)  and Matt Moore ( Celtics) hash the franchise debate out.

Kurt Helin
: No doubt, you have to respect the Celtics history. The thing is, it is history. Most of their titles came almost 50 years ago — time has passed the Celtics by. They are the Betty White of NBA franchises, still trying to milk a little more out of past glory. They’re still better than most, but the Lakers won more titles in the 80s. More titles last decade. The Lakers are more relevant now.

Matt Moore: And yet barring a KG injury, the path to three straight finals appearances is wide open, including a victory over the Lakers. And recent history won’t overcome the only number that matters. Seventeen.

KH: Sure, 17. Thing is, Bill Russell is not coming out of that tunnel. Larry Bird is not suiting up. The mythology of the Celtics is old, it took buying a title with a lucky trade for KG to get that one more banner. Meanwhile while the Celtics struggled since the 80s the Lakers just kept rebuilding, making smart moves and marching forward. They understand how to win and keep winning. All the Celtics need understand is that window — that imported championship window — is closing fast.

MM: And yet for all their machinations, all their savvy, and all their guile, it still came down to drawing an ace with Kobe and then abusing the luxury tax for them to reach the peal of the mountain, and yet still the C’s hang more banners.

Meanwhile the Celtics’ hard nosed legacy and mystique lived on while the Lakers are no more than a good, not great championship team that lacks effort and heart. Even their former glory is shaded in pomp and circumstance: “Showtime.”

And for all the rebuilding and progress L.A. has made, what do they really have? A window longer by what, 2 seasons, max?

KH: The longer window, even by a couple years, means once again the Lakers will leave this era with more titles than the Celtics.

You are dismissive of “showtime” but it is the perfect embodiment of Los Angeles. This city is about entertainment and winning, and “showtime” means both. Why not win with flair? Not just the Magic-era teams, but now Kobe is putting on a show, hitting fade-away game winners with two hands in his face. Don’t confuse “showtime” with soft. The 80s Lakers were not soft. The Shaq-led three-peat teams were not soft. And if the Celtics think these Lakers are soft, they are in for a shock.

The Celtics legacy? Built on unfair talent advantages for a decade, and tedious physical play. Take the beautiful game and grind it down. Destroy the artistry, ugly it all up. Push, grab and hold. No thanks, I will take the pure game from Los Angeles. Anytime.

MM: You can cherish that pure game all you want, the fact is, that bullying style has been more effective. Beauty’s nice. Strength is better. This isn’t a beauty contest, it’s armed conflict in the gladiatorial arena. You bring the makeup mirror and I’ll bring the crowbar and we’ll see which one walks out.

And you can project all you want for those titles, but it’s not like we haven’t seen the egos in L.A. detonate their title window (hello, 2004!) before. We have what we have, and what we have, is a Celtics franchise with more titles, and who has done it with more nuance and sophistication than simply stocking up on the biggest, prettiest players they can swindle for. And if you want projection, you’ve got to go ahead and tag an asterisk on that 15th championship for not having gone through Boston due to injury.

Furthermore, in the greater franchise context, the Lakers didn’t even start in L.A. They’re the Lakers. Despite L.A. not really being known for its lakes. If it were the Los Angeles People That Only Show Up To Sporting Events Because It’s Fashionable, that would make sense. The atmosphere at the Garden, even the TD Northbank versus the old Garden, dwarfs the experience in the fashion show that is Staples. Boston’s been around forever, and is tied to that city in a way the Lakers will never be because there’s nothing to tie to L.A. Well, besides plastic surgery, perhaps. The Celtics are a classic franchise in sports, the likes of the Packers and Yankees. The Lakers are a championship organization brought out of nothing organic. The Twinkies of sports. Immensely popular, but there’s nothing really there.

KH: Los Angeles is a city of transplants? What exactly is Boston? The place where the first settlers landed — the first transplants? With a team named after the Irish homeland?

Forget it. It’s time to settle this on the court. Again.

So you know what’s going on here: Kurt Helin is the blogger-in-chief of ProBasketballTalk.com and a lifelong Lakers fan. Matt Moore is the weekend editor of ProBasketballTalk.com and doesn’t really think either team is the best franchise, he’s just playing devil’s advocate. He tends to think the Oklahoma City Thunder are the best franchise, because he likes Thunderstix.

110 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. El Cid - May 30, 2010 at 6:01 PM

    MM… Look there in the distance…There’s a moving light bouncing up and down and coming in your direction! No! It can’t be! Yes! Yes! Its the BLack Mamba Air Kobe with the Lakers on board and headed in the direction of Boston Commons! LISTEN! YOU CAN HEAR “THE BLACK MAMBA SHOUTING!” THE LAKERS ARE COMING! THE LAKERS ARE COMING!

  2. Ron - May 30, 2010 at 7:15 PM

    Ah yes, the old, tired, cliché-driven dribble that is Matt Moore’s writing.
    How old are you Matt, 12 or 13? Can’t you come up with some BASKETBALL arguments as to why Boston is better than Los Angeles? Given the direction of you last paragraph, I was half-expecting you to call the Lakers the “Fakers” and start chanting “Beat L.A.!”
    I really would expect more from a professional blog writer. But then again, I would never mistake MM for being a professional.

  3. Ron - May 30, 2010 at 7:18 PM

    Ah yes, the old, tired, cliché-driven dribble that is Matt Moore’s writing.
    How old are you Matt, 12 or 13? Can’t you come up with some BASKETBALL arguments as to why Boston is better than Los Angeles? Given the direction of you last paragraph, I was half-expecting you to call the Lakers the “Fakers” and start chanting “Beat L.A.!”
    I really would expect more from a professional blog writer. But then again, I would never mistake MM for being a professional.

  4. AJ - May 30, 2010 at 8:53 PM

    The Lakers bought a title just as much as the Celtics did.

  5. ocgunslinger - May 30, 2010 at 9:13 PM

    You have to admit this is the perfect match up for 2010. Celtics and Lakers. Two storied franchises that just met two years ago. The experienced veteran team that wasn’t expected to be in the finals against the experienced Laker team going for two titles in a row and revenge for 2008. This could be a classic series. Neither team will quit and expect Kobe to have a fabulous series doing whatever it takes to win.

  6. ocgunslinger - May 30, 2010 at 9:15 PM

    You have to admit this is the perfect match up for 2010. Celtics and Lakers. Two storied franchises that just met two years ago. The experienced veteran team that wasn’t expected to be in the finals against the experienced Laker team going for two titles in a row and revenge for 2008. This could be a classic series. Neither team will quit and expect Kobe to have a fabulous series doing whatever it takes to win.

  7. Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 30, 2010 at 9:22 PM

    Kurt said it best. In recent years, the Lakers’ Championships ARE RELEVANT. The Celtics’ rings are nostalgia for old geezers.

  8. Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 30, 2010 at 9:30 PM

    If you mean spending because of the salary cap, then yes, Jerry Buss bought himself championship teams. Now go back to fishing and sulk on your boat. Obviously your team didn’t make it to the Finals.

  9. mgs - May 30, 2010 at 11:33 PM

    After winning one title in the last 24 years, the Celtics, true to form, now consider themselves the true champions. The only championship ever enjoyed by KG, Paul Pierce or Ray Allen is now proof that they are the greatest team of the last decade. As long as they can convince themselves that every year is really 2008 they will be able to sit in their wheelchairs in the rest home and convince themselves that they are NBA Champions in perpetuity.

  10. AflredE - May 30, 2010 at 11:43 PM

    There both well run franchises. But in this era of huge salaries and cable/tv money, you really can’t expect Boston to compete with LA.
    Yes, the Celtics broke the piggy bank to sign Garnett, Allen & Pierce, but it seems eventually almost all superstars end up out there.
    Does anybody really think the Lakers are not looking to go after LeBron James?

  11. Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 31, 2010 at 1:11 AM

    Get LeBron? Why not? But unlike other teams, IT’S NOT OUR PRIORITY.
    @mgs: Somehow I can say “my thoughts exactly.” Then again, it’s always free to dream. It’s making those dreams into reality is the real kicker.

  12. 2004 - May 31, 2010 at 1:20 AM

    Didn’t every big player from the 2004 Laker team get hurt during the season. Malone and Payton were running the team until Malone got hurt and never came back to play in the NBA. So don’t cry about the Celtics being hurt if you are going to cry about the Lakers choking when almost everyone talented from the Lakers got hurt that season.

  13. Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 31, 2010 at 1:56 AM

    Well said. Injuries are part of the game. Learn to suck it up and no excuses.

  14. JoJo - May 31, 2010 at 8:29 AM

    Head to head…9-2. Lakers a better franchise? Puleeeeze!

  15. Omnius - May 31, 2010 at 9:19 AM

    The Celtics have won more titles 17-15 but the Lakers have been in the NBA Finals 31 times to only 21 times for the Celts. The Lakers are the winningest team with more victories overall. Since 1980 the Lakers have won 9 titles to the Celts 3, definitely the Lakers are catching up quickly and will add title 16 in a few weeks. The Celts are too old and too tempermental to win against Kobe and crew.

  16. AJ - May 31, 2010 at 9:22 AM

    No, I’m pretty sure the Celtics made the Finals.
    http://hoopshype.com/salaries.htm
    Look at the payrolls are tell me who is #1 and #3. Both teams acquired top talent and are paying for it, so you cannot say that one team bought a title while another did not.
    Oh, and let’s not forget the Pau Gasol trade. Which future NBA star did the Lakers give up to get him, Kwame Brown?

  17. KN - May 31, 2010 at 5:16 PM

    Matt Moore,
    It’d be unfair to tag an asterisk next to the championship that the Lakers won last year. Did you forget that a healthy Celtics team faced an injured Lakers team lacking Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza in the 2008 NBA Finals? Bynum’s presence would have definitely helped, and Ariza, while probably not as refined a player as last year, still had the length and athleticism to better contain Paul Pierce than Radmanovic could have done. Under such circumstances, would it be fair to tag the 2008 Celtics championship with an asterisk as well?
    Furthermore, I fail to see how the Boston Celtics can truly be regarded as a “classic franchise” when, in 1977 (I believe it was that year), the original owners traded ownership with the Buffalo Braves. After a couple name changes, the Buffalo Braves are today known as…the Los Angeles Clippers.

  18. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Jun 1, 2010 at 1:34 AM

    And your point being what? Buss gets to pay for what he has now because he can bar anything illegal. What, sue him coz he’s rich enough to get a championship team? LMAO!

  19. agnostica - Jun 1, 2010 at 8:26 AM

    I can’t wait until all of you Lakers bandwagoners stare in shock and disappointment when the real caliber team slams the door in the Lakers’ faces.
    The Celtics this season started off with the best record before succumbing to injuries. When they are at their healthiest, the Celtics are practically unbeatable. You can bet you’ll all go home disappointed. The Celtics have only won the title once in the past 2 decades, but this year you can say twice, and they’ll continue to shine. The real championship franchise is back and will surely put Kobe to shame, just like they did in 2008.

  20. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Jun 1, 2010 at 11:40 AM

    Using the term “bandwagoners” obviously reflects how ignorant and idiotic you are. Here, I’ll smack you in the head with a dictionary so you would come to your senses. You know, it just dawned on me since this thread is based on FRANCHISE ACCOMPLISHMENTS/LEGACY, I will take the Lakers’ 15 over the Celtics’ 17. Why? From 1961 to 1965 there were only 9 teams. From 1966 to 1968 there were 14 teams. By 1974, there are 18 teams… and so on and so forth. After 1969 the Celtics won 6 more titles as opposed to the Lakers’ 10. The gist is (are you listening Matt Moore?)the Celtics Dynasty was a big fish in a small pond while the Lakers’ dominance ever since the 70’s onwards is a bigger fish in a much bigger pond. I would put an asterisk on those 11 Championships prior to 1970. Considering the number of NBA teams during the Celtics’ Dynasty, wouldn’t that be an equivalent to playing roughly in today’s Conference? Wouldn’t the Lakers accomplished a parallel feat since it has been lording it over the Western Conference 19 times after 1969! How about numbers of games played in a season? Did the teams in the 60’s play and grind each season as much as today’s team would considering the number of games played? How about back to back games? Dunno about you, but I rather lord it over 29 other just as hard-working NBA teams as opposed to what? 9? 14? With these points in the argument, I must say I OWN YOU MATT MOORE. Care for a rebuttal? -J. Recio- aka Foul Dwimmerlaik

  21. CWill - Jun 1, 2010 at 3:05 PM

    Ah, if I am not mistaken, The Celtics thumped the Lakers 8 Straight in Head to Head Championship Matchups prior to the lonely 2 times you beat the men in Green. You should thank Magic for that feat.Since 1970 uh, I think we are 2 & 2 against the Lakers, oops 3& 2 head to head after we thump you this year & uh 10-2 overall.
    Do I smell domination!!

  22. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Jun 1, 2010 at 5:05 PM

    You can have the head to head. I rather go for RELEVANCE. You know, like LBJ can have the MVP while Kobe gets the bling.

  23. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Jun 1, 2010 at 5:09 PM

    You can have the head to head. I rather go for RELEVANCE. You know, like LBJ can have the MVP while Kobe gets the bling.

  24. KOBE_SUX_BAL6Z - Jun 2, 2010 at 6:25 PM

    HEY FAKER FANS, HATE TO BREAK IT TO YOU……Boston will win in 5. The fakers are a bunch of softies who have the worst fans anyone can have. Trust me, Boston will have no trouble dismantling these fakers. The Western Conference is so weak compared to the Eastern Conference. Ummean, who have the fakers played??? Boston has beaten the 2 best teams in the league by far. Kobe and co. got there based on a bunch of fruitcake playoff teams. Now, they’ve run into a buzzsaw…what a bunch of fruits! Remember 08, well, its gonna happen again. Losing by 32 points! Michael jordan would have never allowed such a catastrophe. For that and many other reason, Kobe will never be the greatest player, maybe top 20. The true GOAT is MJ. Kobe will not win another championship…mark my words. Sorry LA, lovers of plastic surgery, glitz and glamour, and kardashian wannabe’s, ur time is up, bow to the real world champs…the BOSTON CELTICS….eat it!

  25. KOBE_SUX_BAL6Z - Jun 2, 2010 at 6:30 PM

    Boston Celtics, ur 2010 nba champions!!!Kobe and his squad will lay another egg, aka 2008! LA, the home of plastic surgeries gone wrong, kardashian followers and terrible bball players will be destroyed. After a few cupcake playoff series’ versus cupcake western conference teams, the fakers have run into a buzzsaw! The fakers will lose in 5. Kobe and fans, stop comparing kobe to MJ, that discussion is dead, kobe is not even in the same arena as MJ. He would have never allowed the 2008 debacle. KG will get another ring and then another, Kobe will not win another championship ever again, mark my words, he’s done! Nice try LA, but bow to the real champs, Gang Green!

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