1979 All Over Again

May 1984

"It's the Bird-Magic factor that'll start all the mystique of this series all over again," said 76ers general manager Pat Williams. "It's the ultimate treat. To me, if it can't be Philly in the finals, then let it be Boston. There hasn't been a final like this in 15 years."

Asked who he thought was better, Magic Johnson or Larry Bird, Denver Nuggets' Coach Doug Moe laughed. "Who cares?" he said."Just give me either one. Both are so great, it comes down to your individual taste as to whom you like more." I can't wait to watch these two battle it out over the next two weeks. GMs from across the league, largely comprised of players who played during the hey day of the Celtics-Lakers rivalry, echo these sentiments.

Obviously, this will be more than just a Bird-Magic show.

In the lane, the league's all-time scoring leader, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, will duel Boston's 7-foot Robert Parish in a battle of two of the league's best centers. Other intriguing individual matchups will include Gerald Henderson vs. Byron Scott, Kurt Rambis vs. Maxwell and Bob McAdoo or James Worthy vs. Kevin McHale.

Never mind that most of these guys can't really remember in detail those glorious Celtics-Lakers series of the past (will anyone ever top Baylor's 61 points in Game 5 of the 1962 finals?) or that they recognize Cousy as a Boston radio and TV announcer rather than the great guard that he was.

Never mind that only a few of the veterans of today can really remember in detail how, following Boston's 1962 title, current Boston coach K.C. Jones teamed with Hall-of-Famer Sam Jones and replaced the legendary Boston backcourt of Bill Sharman and Cousy without so much as a ripple.

Does any player on either of these teams today remember Laker Frank Selvy's agonizing, last-second missed shot that set up Boston's seventh-game, overtime triumph in 1962? Or how Wilt Chamberlain sat out the final minutes of Game 7 in 1969 as a result of a spat with then-Lakers coach Butch van Breda Kolff?

But while both clubs may be a little fuzzy on the details they do realize that they are about to renew a championship rivalry that once dominated the game.

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