Lakers-Celtics: The First Seven Finals

1984 NBA Finals

Larry v. Magic: Game 8

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

America liked Ike, southern California was without a basketball team, and Mrs. Earvin Johnson Sr. was five months pregnant when the Boston Celtics first beat the Lakers in the NBA championship finals.

1959 - CELTICS 4, LAKERS 0

It was April 1959, and the Celtics took the Minneapolis Lakers in four straight.

In the next 10 years, the Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers met six more times. Boston won each series, overcoming heroic efforts by Lakers greats and near-greats named Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Mel Counts and Don Nelson.

As the Celtics and Lakers prepare to joust for the eighth time since 1959, let's put "The Way We Were" on the turntable and flip through the brittle clips of championships past.

This was the first sweep in an NBA final. It was also the first of eight consecutive Celtics championships. Frank Ramsey hit for 29 points in 27 minutes as the Celtics won the opener, 118-115, before a crowd of 8195 and a national television audience on a Saturday afternoon in the Garden. In Game 2, Boston's Bill Sharman extended his consecutive free throw string to 50 and scored 28 in a 128-108 blowout. Bob Cousy had 23 points and 15 assists in 48 minutes of a 123-110 Game 3 Celtics' victory in Minneapolis. K.C. Jones, Jim Loscutoff and Tom Heinsohn carried coach Red Auerbach off the floor when the Celtics won Game 4, 118-113. It was Boston's 22d consecutive victory over the Lakers.

Auerbach said, "We set a lot of records this year, and some may be broken, but that's one that won't be - winning the championship in four straight games."

A Lakers rookie named Elgin Baylor scored 30 in the final loss.

1962 - CELTICS 4, LAKERS 3

Playing with a broken nose (thanks to a Jim Krebs stray elbow), K.C. Jones ignited a crucial second-quarter rally and the Celtics beat the Lakers in the opening game, 122-108, before 7617 at the Garden.

The Lakers won the next two games: a 129-122 victory in the Garden and a 117-115 conquest in Game 3. LA's third-game victory was won when Jerry West stole a Sam Jones pass with three seconds left and scored. To this day, Auerbach claims West scored after time ran out. The Celtics tied the series with a 115-103 victory in LA, but Baylor burned Boston with 61 points in Game 5 (a 126-121 Lakers' win in Boston) and LA led, 3-2.

The Celtics won Game 6 in LA, 119-105, then rode a 53-minute, 30-point, 40-rebound Bill Russell effort to a 110-107 overtime victory in Game 7. LA had a chance to dethrone the Celtics, but Frank Selvy's buzzer shot clanged off the rim at the close of regulation. Ramsey, Tom Sanders, Heinsohn and Loscutoff all fouled out in regulation, which left Gene Guarilia guarding Baylor in OT.

1963 - CELTICS 4, LAKERS 2

Rookie John Havlicek sprained his left ankle in Boston's 117-114 opening- game victory. Rudy LaRusso scored 10 in the final period. Russell, who managed 13 second-half rebounds, cut his chin in a fall with 37 seconds left. A 38-rebound performance by Russell led the Celtics to a 113-106 victory in Game 2.

West and Baylor combined for 80 in Game 3 and the Lakers won easily, 119-99, but a 35-point effort by Heinsohn in Game 4 (a 108-105 Boston victory) sent the Celtics back to Boston with a 3-1 lead.

Game 5 was Cousy's final appearance in the Boston Garden. The Celtics were unable to win it at home. West and Baylor poured in 75, Heinsohn was ejected by Richie Powers, and the Lakers had a 126-119 victory.

The last loud roar was a California groan when Cousy heaved the ball toward the ceiling of the LA Sports Arena at the conclusion of Boston't title- clinching 112-109 victory in Game 6.

1965 - CELTICS 4, LAKERS 1

The Celtics set an NBA playoff scoring record in a 142-110 first-game thrashing of LA at the Garden. K.C. Jones held West to one basket in the first quarter and stole the ball from West five times in the first half. West would average 40.6 points in the six-game set, but Baylor was out with an injury.

Boston took Game 2, 129-123 (25 rebounds for Russell), then dropped Game 3 in LA, 126-105. Sam Jones scored 37 in a 112-99 Celtics' Game 4 victory in LA.

In the fifth and final game, the Celtics ripped off 20 unanswered points in a five-minute stretch at the start of the fourth quarter. When the Lakers finally called time, Auerbach tossed a handful of cigars into the crowd and kissed Mrs. Walter Brown.

Russell, who had 30 rebounds in the clincher, caught a finger in the eye in the second quarter but stayed in the game.

1966 - CELTICS 4, LAKERS 3

Boston's eighth straight championship. The Celtics lost Game 1 in overtime, 133-129, on the same day that Russell was named successor to Auerbach's throne. After the loss, Auerbach complained about the Lakers getting 21 more free throw attempts than the Celtics.

Boston rebounded, taking the next three games - 129-109, 120-106 and 122-117. Baylor scored 41 in LA's 121-117 Game 5 victory. Gail Goodrich poured in 28 as the Lakers forced a seventh-game with a 123-115 win in Los Angeles.

Russell scored 25 with 32 rebounds in Game 7, sending Auerbach into the GM's chair with his ninth world championship.

1968 - CELTICS 4, LAKERS 2

Boston roared back from a 15-point third quarter deficit to take a 107-101 victory in the opener. Celtics' castoff Mel Counts led the Lakers to a 123-113 win in Game 2.

They split the next two in LA. Boston took Game 3, 127-119 (26 points from Larry Siegfried), but West and Baylor combined for 68 in Los Angeles' 118-105 Game 4 win.

Nelson, who had been picked up by the Celtics, had 26 points, including four in overtime, as the Celtics took a 120-117 decision in Game 5. Havlicek had 40 in the clincher - a 124-109 Celtics' win in the Forum.


This is the one everybody remembers. The Lakers had picked up Wilt Chamberlain and figured to finally snap the Boston jinx - especially against a Celtics team that finished fourth in its division.

West scored 53 (most while he was guarded by Emmette Bryant) and LA won the opener, 120-118. Baylor pumped in 32 in a 118-112 victory as the Lakers took a 2-0 lead back to Boston. Havlicek scored 83 in the first two games.

Siegfried came off the bench to score 28 in Boston's 111-105 Game 3 victory.

Sam Jones hit THE SHOT at the end of Game 4. An off-balance, 17-foot buzzer-beating push shot by Jones gave Boston an 89-88 series-tying victory.

West scored 39 and Chamberlain outplayed Russell in the Lakers' 117-104 Game 5 victory. Nelson scored 25 and Sam Jones received a touching ovation as the Celtics won Game 6, 99-90, in the Garden.

Two night later, the Celtics were back in LA, looking at thousands of balloons that had been strung to the Forum rafters by Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke. In what turned out to be Russell's final game, the Celtics built a 15- point lead and hung on for a 108-106 victory, their 11th championship in the 13-year reign of King Russell, who had 21 rebounds and played every second of his final NBA game.

Ever the goat, Chamberlain had come out with an injury in the second half and was not allowed back in by coach Bill van Breda Kolff.

A clutch rim-hanging jumper by Nelson with 1:17 left proved to be the crucial basket.

"That was the luckiest shot I ever made in my life," said Nelson.

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