Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers will go down as one of the best coaches in NBA history, and as part of his career, he’s had the privilege to lead two of the Lakers’ rivals.
Rivers coached the Boston Celtics for nine seasons, leading them to a title in 2008 and one other NBA Finals appearance in 2010. The Celtics played the Lakers in both Finals, with the Lakers taking the championship in 2010. Per Mark Medina of USA Today, Rivers talked about the difference in how he’s perceived the Lakers coaching both the Battle of L.A and Lakers-Celtics bouts.
The Lakers and Clippers will square off in a Christmas Day marquee matchup, with tip off set for 8 p.m. EST.
“It’s different for sure because the Celtic-Laker thing had this thing going long before,” Rivers said. “Everybody in the organization — Magic (Johnson) told me a great story years later. We (the Celtics) beat them (the Lakers) in 2008, he had a sit down with all those guys. (He said), ‘You guys don’t understand the rivalry. You gotta get involved in it.’”
The Celtics-Lakers rivalry has gone on throughout the NBA’s history, as the two teams have met 11 times in the Finals since the Lakers started playing in Los Angeles during the 1960-61 season.
The Lakers used to play in Minneapolis, and the Celtics played them once in the Finals while they played in Minnesota. Including when the Lakers played in Minneapolis, the Celtics have defeated the Lakers in the Finals nine times.
Rivers acknowledged how the Clippers and Lakers don’t have the history with their rivalry, but he did mention how proximity plays a factor.
“But we are in town,” Rivers said. “We see each other. And so that creates its own rivalry, even when the teams are good or bad. In-town rivals are in-town rivals, just like high school.”
The Lakers and Clippers are ranked first and fourth, respectively, in the Western Conference. The Clippers currently lead the season’s series 1-0, but the Christmas Day matchup has the potential to be one of the best games all season.