The seeds of the rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics were sewn back in the 1960s. During that era the Lakers, led by Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, squared off with the Bill Russell-led Celtics seven times in the NBA Finals.
Unfortunately for the Baylor and the Lakers, they came up short each time, failing to topple Russell who went on to win 11 championships total. Baylor never was able to capture that elusive championship, something that has led to him being one of the most underrated players in NBA history.
But Baylor still isn’t angry about it decades later. Baylor explained his first thoughts when looking back on playing the Celtics are that the Lakers didn’t win the championship, but he praised them and Russell in particular, via The Post Game:
“I thought that we didn’t win the championship, that’s No. 1. Hey, you know, we gave the best we could. You think about it, Boston had a terrific team. When you have a center like Bill Russell, it just makes you an awesome team. That guy is just unbelievable. Couldn’t make free throws but everything else, the intangible things he does. Blocked shots, set picks and all those things. We wanted to beat the Celtics but we never did. But it was a pleasure to play against them. No one thought we would go that far with that team.”
It is truly a shame that Baylor couldn’t get his championship as he was one of the best players in the league at that time, especially when it came to perimeter players. Those Celtics teams were stacked with the likes of John Havlicek and Sam Jones joining Russell.
The Lakers-Celtics rivalry only grew from there with the Lakers owning a clear advantage since this time, but Baylor’s legend isn’t quite what it should be because of those Finals losses and that shouldn’t be the case.
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