Kareem Abdul- Jabbar cheered for the Boston Celtics during his high-school days in New York.
He would later be involved in one of the most intense rivalries in sports, going against Boston three times in the NBA Finals as a Los Angeles Lakers star in the 1980s.
Now, that's simply a part of his past.
"I saw my first Celtics-Lakers rivalry game in 1969," Abdul-Jabbar recalled on Sunday, referring to a matchup in the NBA finals a few months after he completed his college career at UCLA. "I never had a hatred for them. When I was in high school, I was a Celtics fan. I got to meet (then-Boston stars) Bill Russell, (John) Havlicek, (Bob) Cousy, those guys, when I was 14." The teams are about to meet in the Finals for the 11th time overall and the first since 1987, when the Lakers beat the Celtics in the third matchup between the teams in a span of four years. The best-of-seven series begins on Thursday in Boston.
The Celtics won in 1984 for their eighth straight victory over Los Angeles in the Finals dating back to 1959, but the Lakers broke through in 1985, when Abdul-Jabbar became at age 38 the oldest player ever to win the Finals MVP award.