Bill Walton tells great story from his first C’s-Lakers game originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Boston Celtics-Los Angeles Lakers rivalry has cooled in recent years, but it’s still hard to argue against it being the best rivalry in sports.
The history between the two legendary franchises simply can’t be topped. That especially goes for the 1980s, when Larry Bird’s Celtics would do battle with Magic Johnson’s “Showtime” Lakers. Bill Walton was a part of it during his brief stint in Boston and fondly remembers just how different NBA rivalries were then compared to today.
“We disliked everybody,” Walton said on Celtics Pregame Live. “If they weren’t on our team — that’s one of the things that’s really changed in the NBA. There was no hugging and kissing before and after the game. If they were on the other team, they were evil, and we had to take care of business.
“And the incredible sense of preparation, and the mental focus and the concentration of what you were going to be able to do and to be able to come with the edge, to be able to bring the fire, to be able to bring the fight without actually getting into a fight because when you get into a fight, that’s not good. But there fights all the time.”
In fact, there was a notable fight in Walton’s first-ever Celtics-Lakers game. The Hall of Famer remembers C’s legend K.C. Jones being right in the middle of it, and loving every second.
“My very first Lakers-Celtics game, it was an exhibition in 1985,” Walton said. “The very first one, on the opening tip a fight broke out. It lasted for 20 minutes, everybody was involved. K.C. Jones ultimately came back to the bench all bloodied and cut up and scratched up because Michael Cooper would never cut his fingernails. His clothes were all ragged and he looked at me with this gleam in his eye and he said, ‘I love this game.’ “
The Celtics and Lakers will try to avoid a repeat of that game when they face off Thursday night at 10 p.m. ET.