Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 3/11/12
LOS ANGELES-- Whenever the Lakers and Celtics meet, it's safe to say that something unexpected will happen. Like Ron Artest hitting a huge three-pointer in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals to help the Lakers win their 16th world title. Or like Kobe Bryant in the huddle calling for a potential game-winning shot attempt byAndrew Bynum. Yes, Bryantthought by many critics to be a ball hog--passed up the possible game-winner and all the accompanying glory to exploit a Boston weakness and give the Los Angeles a 97-94win. Bynum hit a 6-foot hook shot with Kevin Garnett defending him, which is exactly the way Bryant envisioned it when he suggested the play to coach Mike Brown. "I knew (Andrew) was going to get a good look and I knew what was going to happen," said Bryant, who finished with a game-high 26 points. "Kevin is a great, great defensive player, but Andrew's just too big. You can't teach (how to defend) that. Once he got his body on (Garnett) and the defense couldn't figure out what to do about it, he got to the middle and got a good jump hook. I knew he was going to make it." Celtics coach Doc Rivers wouldn't concede that it was Bynum's big basket that ultimately did in his squad. "We feared he might have a big game against us with our lack of size," Rivers said. "What we wanted to do was to stop the others. (But Metta) World Peace has 14 points and (Matt) Barnes has a big tip-in, and I thought those were the plays that beat us. "Bynum was phenomenal and give him credit, but going into the game we though we (could let him get his points), but still win the game." Bynum had a double-double20 points and 14 rebounds. (Rajon Rondo led Boston with 24 points and 10 assists). But the Lakers' All Star center said he would have preferred to face a team that wasn't as beat-up as the Celtics. "Boston's a great team," Bynum said, "(but) they have guys hurt. (With Jermaine) O'Neal in there it would've been a little more physical down there. We love beating this team. This was a really big game for us and we came home and we got it." If they don't meet in the NBA Finals this season, it will probably mean the end of this version of one of sports' greatestand most enduringteam rivalries. The Celtics are the all-time leaders in championships won with 17; the Lakers being just one behind at 16. In the 60's, Bill Russell, John Havlicek and their crew dominated the Lakers, meeting them in the Finals six times, winning them all. Jerry West called the seven-game series loss to Boston the worst moment in his career, as the Lakers blew a 2-0 lead to lose to a Celtic team that had finished fourth in their division. They didn't meet in the playoffs during the 70's, but were back at it in 1984, when the Lakers lost another heart-breaking series in seven games to Larry Bird and company. In 1985, the Lakers finally beat the Celtics in the Finals after eight futile attempts, and also beat them in 1987 and 2010. The Celtics have beaten them just once since 1984, a six-game win in 2008. Overall, Boston has tortured the Lakers and their fans for nine of their seventeen championships, while the Lakers earned three of their sixteen against their hated rivals. Some of the players who have participated in this rivalry are literally among the greatest to ever step onto the hardwood. Russell, Sam Jones, Bill Sharman, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Havlicek, Bird, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bob McAdoo, Shaquille O'Neal, Bryant, Pau Gasol, Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are among the Hall of Famersor sure eventual selecteeswho have turned it into basketball's greatest rivalry. However, with the trading deadline looming in a few days and age starting to catch up to some of the principals, it may be a while before the series is again talked about with reverence. "(That's why it is great) that today's game lived up to Laker-Celtic lore," said Laker guard Derek Fisher. "It was a hard-fought game in the tradition of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry, and I guess the (fans) will be the ones who decide (if the rivalry continues)." Celtics coach Doc Rivers tried some humor while deflecting any thought of the rivalry's importance taking a hiatus. "Well, yeah," Rivers said, laughing. "I hear they're about to trade Gasol," making light of the constant rumors about Gasol being moved. "But let's wait until (we don't meet in the playoffs this season) before we talk about it. Both teams have been pretty inconsistent all year, but if both are healthy and with the experience they have, it could happen." As unlikely as that may seem, it actually could happen. Remember, in 1969 the Celtics a mediocre team that barely made the playoffs. In fact, the Lakers clobbered them by 35 points (108-73) in a nationally televised game on March 16th of that year. If it doesn't, though, Bryant is sure that the rivalry will eventually go. "If this is the end of it for right now, it will definitely resurface one day. I'm sure of that," said Bryant, who has on occasion said he takes the rivalry so seriously that he tries to avoid wearing green whenever possible. "I hate that color." "But it's always going to be here, as long as there is an (NBA). In some shape or some form, it will always be around."
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Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

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