Celebrating Celtics-Lakers: From Courtside to Couch…

The Boston Celtics' Bill Russell with coach "Red" Auerbach at the Boston Garden, 1964. (AP)

Don’t get me wrong. LeBron James and Cleveland are overdue for a title. Steve Nash of the Suns deserves some kind of trophy for cracking his broken nose back into place. Ouch.

But when it comes to a marquee matchup, there’s nothing like the Celtics-Lakers, which are playing their 12th Finals series

(Listen back to our retrospective on the rivalry before the their last Finals matchup, featuring ex-player and now Celtics general manager Danny Ainge.)

So Thursday night—way past my On Point bedtime—I will sit on the edge of the couch and try to will the Celtics to snatch game one away from the Lakers at the Staples Center. I will scream at the TV set and take several calls from my entire family. 97-year-old Great Aunt Julia is a rabid fan and tends to stay up much later than I usually do. I’ll have to let her know that she can call me.

I have been bleeding green for as long back as I can remember. (Can’t say how excited I was to have Bill Russell as a guest on On Point last year.)

My grandfather listened to legendary broadcaster Johnny Most call the games on the radio. My parents listened to Most but watched the game on TV with the sound turned down. I liked to watch the games courtside, and got plenty of opportunities to do just that.

Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant. (AP)

You see, my childhood friend Laura Sachs’s father was the Celtics’ eye doctor. For home games, he sat at the scorer’s table to tend to any eye injuries. We sat in his fourth row center court seats, along with my sister Diane and Laura’s brother David. Four amigos shouting and cheering on the home team. We ate popcorn, too much pizza, and sodas that were banned at home. We digested all the elementary school gossip and injustices. And we watched the game. Russell blocking shots. John Havlicek scoring again and again. The crowd going wild. It was pure heaven.

The Lakers have celebrities in their front rows. I was just a kid cheering on the home team. And now that I’m all grown up, I’ll do it again—this time from my couch.

Karen Shiffman is On Point’s senior producer.


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