Larry v. Magic: Celtics have a Date with the So-Called "Great 8"

Larry v. Magic: Game-by-Game Summary
Larry v. Magic: Game-by-Game Media Coverage

Preview for Game 4

January 29, 1983

At long last, a legitimate glamour game. When the Celtics take the floor in front of the usual 15,320 (and a rare national television audience), there'll be no faceless Pacers, no boring Bulls and no dissonant Jazz cluttering the visitors' bench. The NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers play their only regular-season game in Boston today (1 p.m., Ch. 7). The guys in royal purple and gold need little introduction. The same star-studded unit that steamrolled to the NBA title (12-2 in the playoffs) last spring is off to a 34-8 start.

Far West fans have taken to calling these Lakers the Great Eight. This is in reference, of course, to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Norm Nixon, Jamaal Wilkes, Kurt Rambis, Bob McAdoo, Michael Cooper and James Worthy - arguably the greatest collection of basketball talent ever assembled. Phoenix Suns coach John MacLeod, whose team owns two victories over the Lakers this season, said Friday: "The most impressive thing about the Lakers is that . . . they sacrifice their individual wants for the sake of the team. When you have that, you've got a bear on your hands."

The Lakers have won 61 of their last 75 regular-season and postseason games. Either Johnson or Nixon (no relation to the two who ran for vice president in 1960) can lead the break and orchestrate from the point; Wilkes is still Mr. Silkience; Rambis is the prototype unselfish up-front banger, and Abdul-Jabbar is still Kareem after all these years. Larry Bird knows what Cooper can do; McAdoo is a one-time Celtic, three-time scoring champ who has found his niche, and Worthy has been a sensational rookie.

The Lakers beat the Celtics, 119-113, in Boston last February, but the Celtics won in the Inglewood Forum, 108-103, a week later. Will the outcome of this game mean anything if these teams meet in the playoffs? "By then, anything you had in mind is forgotten," says Lakers coach Pat Riley. "You've changed things, and they've changed things." Which is not to say this will be just another afternoon in the interminable NBA regular season. "Let's make it a hell of a game," Riley says. "Why not? Let's make it a great game for a lot of people.

"Boston's size and inside game have done us in in the past," says Riley. "I think we do have an advantage in the backcourt, but they can go to their bench to (M.L.) Carr and (Charles) Bradley." . . . Neither Bradley nor Scott Wedman played in Friday's 111-104 victory over the Suns . . . Robert Parish played 43 minutes against Phoenix - his longest stint of the season . . . Since a curious two-game stretch in which he had only two assists in 66 minutes, Tiny Archibald has handed out 21 assists in three games . . . The Celtics have won 12 of 14.

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