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Love, hate and rivalry

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APRIL 05, 2016

I hate the Boston Celtics.

I hate the green, I hate that dumb leprechaun, I hate that every time we discuss that stupid team we incorrectly pronounce the Irish word “Celtic,” and I especially hate The Truth. I detest the entire institution, and I would love to see them get blown out 82 times a year.

More than that, I hate how good they’ve always been. It seems like whenever my Lakers were dominating the league, the Celtics were dominating them. Wilt, West, Magic, Kareem, Kobe and many other Lakers greats have battled Boston in The Finals — and lost. I hate how perfectly the Celtics always play team-ball, each cog in their machine in perfect harmony with one another.

But, some things have really been on my mind. The way they played tic-tac-toe with the fabled Warriors’ defense Friday, finding and taking the exact shots they wanted with the exact people they wanted to take them with. The way they allowed Steph Curry to have a Steph-Curry-type game yet still stifled an otherworldly rhythmic Dubs offense enough to make the Dubs miss shots that they regularly make. The way that every Celtic seemed to have an individually great game yet still play beautifully within their coach’s system. They made me feel an emotion I never thought in a million years that I would associate with them.

I love the Boston Celtics.

Woah woah woah, let me explain. I find myself rooting for them because there’s a part of me, deep down, that wants them to be one of the best teams in the league. More specifically, I want them to be No. 2 — No.1 obviously being the purple and gold.

I just miss when Lakers-Celtics meant something. I miss feeling a hatred because it was organic, rather than because I had to feel it. Those days — when the Lakers made The Finals all three years that I was in middle school, and the best team in the NBA wasn’t whatever team LeBron was on that year quite yet. I felt a hatred so pure and unbridled that I literally didn’t wear green during playoffs season, because it was just bad Juju. I miss those days, man.

Today, the matchups are just bleh. The Lakers win a couple, the Celts a couple, but it never feels quite right. There’s never the lingering insinuation that maybe, just maybe, we’ll meet them again in The Finals — and we fans will again get to play audience to the closest thing that sport has to pure theater.

I love the generational adaptations that the rivalry has experienced, yet each era playing on eerily similar archetypes. The Lakers bring the flash and the fun and the sass, and the Celtics play hard, smart and decidedly. It’s always a beautifully equal balance: the Lakers sometimes having enough star power to flash past Boston, and other times the C’s playing basketball just sagely enough to put LA in checkmate. This generation looks uncannily prepared. Russell, Clarkson, Randle and the bright-light-loving young Lakers are poised to annually contend with Thomas, Smart, Bradley and that genius Brad Stevens for the next decade.

But I’d never say it to a Boston fan’s face — because I hate that team, now and forever.

Just the way it should be.

Contact Austin Isaacsohn at [email protected].

APRIL 05, 2016

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