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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. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Jun 3, 2010 at 7:57 AM

    Judging by the way you speak, I can’t take you seriously. Have you passed the SAT? Western Conference weak? LMFAO!!! Your 4th seeded Celtics record is just the same as our 8th seeded Thunder! The only reason you got the top two teams is because you feasted like vampires among many of the bottomfeeding teams in the East. Your records are padded, doofus. In the West, we have to slug it out with each other three to four times in a year. All of our playoff teams are at least 50 win-teams. Your 8th seeded just hit it even at 0.500! With your lower 4 playoff teams at 0.500-0.573. Little Boy Doofus, I want to see you post again after the Finals when the Lakers make you eat that crap you’ve been spewing from the posterior end of your alimentary canal.

  2. Deeman - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:09 PM

    Ok…I do not ever hear anyone mention the fact that Bosto has won most of their title when there were only 10 – 12 teams in the league. So, I have to say that they had a much easier path to their championships than the Lakers have.

  3. William Root - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:11 PM

    Different era’s. Take away the Celtics titles before the merger with the ABA, when there were fewer teams for them to compete against. The Celtics have a great history, and tradition. But the Lakers are the team of today. And their coach aint no slouch either!

  4. Michael - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:42 PM

    This wasn’t supposed to be about the 2010 teams as it was the franchises i thought. I’m a Magic fan first but my favorite teams would have to be the Lakers, Jabbar, Cooper, Magic,Rambis,Worthy etc and the Celtics, Bird,McKale, Parrish.
    Maybe the only way to settle it is the best all time roster?
    Celtics: Russell, McHale, Bird, Pierce, cousy.
    Lakers:Jabbar (chamberlain, Shaq), Magic, Bryant, Elgin Baylor, Worthy. West would be there.
    I have to think the best of the best would be a Laker team.

  5. obvious - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:44 PM

    The Lakers have a .500 record in NBA finals series wins, 15-15. The Celtics, are 17-3. Also, the C’s are 9-2 all time in finals against LA.
    Clearly Boston, no other way to look at it. If that isn’t a clear determinant, then I don’t know what is.

  6. Chris - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:58 PM

    How many of you were alive during the 60’s to actually witness Bostons domination? How many of you actually got to watch the 1980’s battles between Magic and Bird? I would imagine by the way many of you write on this board that your ages range from 12-24. So I find it hilarious that people of that age point to the numbers of the past.

  7. Tiny Archibald - Jun 3, 2010 at 1:59 PM

    I can’t wait for this series and the lakers season to end with another Celtics title. LA simply has not seen a defence like they are about to. LA will be DISMANTLED. Can’t wait to post after it happens to get a reaction out of all you retarted Lakers fans who simply just dont seem to get it. YOU CANT WIN…Boston has double the passion to win this title. LA will not match their intensity at any point.

  8. Michael - Jun 3, 2010 at 2:00 PM

    So the Lakers have been in the series finals 30 times and the Celtics 20? So the Celtics won 17 times and out of the 17, 9 times they were having to play the Lakers.

  9. obvious - Jun 3, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    The title of this is “Lakers/Celtics: Which franchise reigns supreme”?
    In order to do that, you have to look at the past. If someone like the Dallas Mavericks won the title, would you call them the best ever just because they are the current champions? Of course not.
    You can make an argument for both the Lakers and the Celtics. The Celtics have an incredible record in the Finals, whereas the Lakers do not. The Lakers have appeared more often sure, but have a dismal record in the BIG series. Isn’t the main idea here to win titles? Don’t we consider that, supreme? At the moment, the Celtics have more. Also, head to head it is 9-2 for the Celtics. Pretty cut and dry if you ask me.
    The Lakers have won more lately, sure. But isn’t that also the past? IMO, Boston is clearly in the lead in this.

  10. Anonymous - Jun 3, 2010 at 2:38 PM

    Actually,
    Its four titles. The Celtics won in 1981,1984,1986, and 2008. Don’t be too quick to count them out in 2010. Especially if they win it this year, they are still the franchise with the most titles, and would have a significant lead in head to head competition.

  11. Lucas Caine - Jun 3, 2010 at 2:40 PM

    You guys are the same people who put down the red sox and say they will never be the New York Yankee’s, but now you go in the opposite direction all together when talking about basketball lol .. so lets do some math real quick assuming that everyone graduated from high school. success is written by completion of tasks.. The Boston Celtics have been to the Title Series 20 times and have won the Series 17 times only losing 3 times in their franchised history. That is 85% win percentage. now the lakers have been there 30 times and have won 15 times.. that is a 50% win percentage.
    now for all of you Celtics fans you will like this Lakers have been there more then any other team so some will argue that they lost more because they have been there more. Lakers fan I am sorry the only reason you have 50% is because the Celtics have owned you guys in the Finals. in fact out of the 15 times the Lakers have lost it was heavily due to the Celtics 9 out of their 15 losses were to the Celtics that is 60% of there failures are at the mercy of the Boston Celtics.
    now out of Boston glorious 17 titles 9 of them were won against the Lakers that is 53% of the Celtics titles are lakers failures, 60 percent or Lakers failures are due to the Boston Celtics triumphs. and a lopsided win percentage highly favors the boston Celtics.
    Now on a final note the starting 5 of the Boston Celtics have never lost a series ever! you cannot say that about the Lakers.. I am going to use my math predictions and say.. The Celtics will win number 18 in 5 games. Lakers will lose one of their two home games to the Celtics who have the best Road Record in the NBA this year.. and rank # 1 in defense.
    Lakers have not eliminated any real contenders either, the Celtics were suppose to lose to Cleavland #1 seed in playoffs “That Never Happened” The Celtics were suppose to lose to Orlando #2 seed in the playoffs “That Never Happened” The Celtics are suppose to Lose to LA in the Finals “That is not going to Happen”

  12. Mrsilver - Jun 3, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    Head to Head tells the story:
    Celtics have won 9 of the last 11 meetings in the finals.
    Go Celtics.

  13. zephyr99 - Jun 3, 2010 at 3:01 PM

    Eleven (11) championships in thirteen (13) years by the Boston Celtics is a feat unmatched in sports. Any sport. Any continent. For emphasis, the majority of those championships were won at the expense of the Los Angeles Lakers.

  14. Rich - Jun 3, 2010 at 3:03 PM

    Let’s understand LA plays in a much tougher conference…Their first round opponent, Oklahoma City was the 8th. seed & had 50 wins….This is typical in the west, usually all 8 playoff teams have 50+ wins….The road to the finals in the east is far easier, & has been for quite some time…
    I know Boston is a good team, I’m not naive…But LA is much better than them all around…It would be an upset if LA were to lose, & this loss would be far worse than 2008 because LA is absolutely the better team…

  15. Rhoda - Jun 3, 2010 at 3:08 PM

    Let’s make this short – LAKERS will win this championship!!

  16. David - Jun 3, 2010 at 3:10 PM

    For all the people saying that Boston’s old titles are irrelevant: They’re certainly more relevant than the five the Lakers claim from the Minneapolis days of 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953 and 1954. If you went by titles won IN LA, than it isn’t close, 17 Boston, 10 LA. If the Lakers can’t be bothered to retire the number of George Mikan or any other Minneapolis legends who earned them more titles than any Laker not named Magic, why should we care?

  17. HBomb - Jun 3, 2010 at 3:12 PM

    When you mention that the Lakers have been better for the past 2 decades, did you mention the fact that 2 of our stars players (one never even played a game), died at an early age?

  18. empire wi - Jun 3, 2010 at 3:16 PM

    While it is true the Celtics have only one title in the last two and one half decades. What other professional team has lost two number one pics in that time frame. I speaking of Landon Turner out of Indiana Univ.(Bobby Knight coached), to a career ending car accident, and Reggie White’s death on the court. After that happening so close together, it takes time to rebuild. With all of the parity and Jerry Buss’s money, well we have seen what has happened to the NBA. Not to take anything away from the Lakers, it is all about strength and momentum, and the Celtics have that. Plus, dare I say, the 2010 title.

  19. Anonymous - Jun 3, 2010 at 3:16 PM

    well right now celtics are the dirtiest team in history.

  20. HBomb - Jun 3, 2010 at 3:16 PM

    When you mention that the Lakers have been better for the past 2 decades, did you mention the fact that 2 of the Celtic’s star players (one never even played a game), died at an early age? Imagine, if Shaq, and Kobe died at an early age!

  21. empire wizard - Jun 3, 2010 at 3:25 PM

    While it is true the Celtics have only one title in the last two and one half decades. What other professional team has lost two number one pics in that time frame. I speaking of Landon Turner out of Indiana Univ.(Bobby Knight coached), to a career ending car accident, and Reggie White’s death on the court. After that happening so close together, it takes time to rebuild. With all of the parity and Jerry Buss’s money, well we have seen what has happened to the NBA. Not to take anything away from the Lakers, it is all about strength and momentum, and the Celtics have that. Plus, dare I say, the 2010 title.

  22. Lakermike - Jun 3, 2010 at 3:28 PM

    You seem to forget that the 2008 Lakers beat the Celtics TWICE during the regular season, ending LONG Celtics winning streaks both times. The Lakers were simply a better team in 2008, despite revisionist history.

  23. izzy - Jun 3, 2010 at 3:35 PM

    the Lakers wouldn’t make the finals if they had to play Orlando in a best of 7 game series….who did they have to beat to get there? not one of those teams they beat plays DEFENSE!!!….wait till they get a load of how defense is really played….I’m NOT a Celtics fan by any means but I can’t stand Kobe Bryant…..He couldn’t carry MJ’s jockstrap……..go Celtics beat L.A. in 6 games…

  24. lakermike - Jun 3, 2010 at 4:01 PM

    As a Lakers fan, I am more than happy that the team has won 9 championships in the past 30 years, far more than any other professional sports franchise.
    Fortunately, I got to experience all nine as a fan, in addition to their 1972 championship. I couldn’t care less about the championships the Lakers won before I was a fan. It’s not like I could enjoy them anyway, since I wasn’t around to root my team on.
    The Lakers have made the finals 15 times in the past 30 years. Since 1980, they finished with at least 50 wins 22x.
    In comparison, the Celtics finished with less than 50 wins in 15 consecutive years from 1992-1993 to 2006-2007. That’s 15 years of shame.
    The Lakers have been in the championship 10x in the past 23 years while the Celtics have been in it 2x. The Lakers have won SIX titles in the past 23 seasons, while the Celtics have won ONE title.
    I’m perfectly content with where the Lakers are as a franchise right now. As for all the times the Celtics beat the Lakers in the 60s, I couldn’t care less, because it was before my time as a fan.

  25. Anonymous - Jun 3, 2010 at 4:03 PM

    The Boston Celtics is the most storied franchise in the NBA. They are bigger than both the Minneapolis Lakers and the LA Lakers. Lakers have had better players, but the 86 Celtics are the 2nd greatest team of all time, of course next to the 92 Bulls.

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