With 11 previous NBA Finals matchups and 32 of the league's 62 championships between them, this Celtics-Lakers series needs no introduction. It's as vicious and storied a rivalry as there is in sports. And unlike two years ago, this series starts with passionate animosity. In 2008, these two teams seemed to feel obligated to hate each other because the history books told them to. Then Paul Pierce embellished an injury, Boston's defense pushed the Lakers around, and the modern day incarnations of two of the greatest franchises in sports began to understand what all the fuss was about.
So, Thursday night, it won't be about nostalgia for the '80s or the '60s rivalries that gets them fired up. For the Celtics, it will be about franchise pride and proving to the league that despite being written off as too old and too dysfunctional, they're still championship material. For the Lakers it will be about settling scores from 2008 and proving that they're tough enough.