Juxtaposition of Celtics and Lakers as Boston Takes Lead in All-Time Race for Championships

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
June 22, 2024Sports News
Juxtaposition of Celtics and Lakers as Boston Takes Lead in All-Time Race for Championships
Majority owner Wyc Grousbeck of the Boston Celtics celebrates with the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy after Boston's 106–88 win against the Dallas Mavericks in Game Five of the 2024 NBA Finals in Boston on June 17, 2024. (Elsa/Getty Images)

The latest championship for the gang in Boston Celtics green probably has fans of “the Purple and Gold” feeling deep blue.

The Celtics shot down the Dallas Mavericks, finishing them off in five games in the finals on Monday to capture their record 18th championship in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

They went on a 16–3 playoff run that now gives the Celtics one more trophy than the Lakers, the other jewel franchise of the NBA.

Former Los Angeles Lakers great and Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson couldn’t hold back his frustration, posting on X that night, “I hate that the Celtics officially have more championships than us now.”

But the title run exposes a gulf that currently exists between the NBA’s marquee clubs. The differences are obvious in three areas: organizational stability, X’s and O’s, and player development.

NTD Photo
Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics and Boston Celtics Owner Wyc Grousbeck react during the Boston Celtics Victory Parade following their 2024 NBA Finals win at TD Garden in Boston on June 21, 2024. (Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)

Team Management

The Celtics, who have met the Lakers in the NBA Finals 12 times through the years (with Boston winning nine of those meetings), used the long play to get back on top of the trophy hill.

The front office in 2013 traded older stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn for draft picks. One turned out to be Jayson Tatum—on whom the Lakers passed in the 2017 draft for Lonzo Ball. The other was used on Jaylen Brown in 2016, and he was the most valuable player (MVP) of the just-completed Finals.

And instead of dumping this core of players, who wore labels of high expectations like names on the backs of their jerseys, Boston stuck with them. That was despite the players leading the way to five previous conference finals—with one Finals appearance two seasons ago—before finally coming through this time for the club’s first title since 2008.

And now, with general manager Brad Stevens in charge, they have a dynamite tandem and a roster with a chance to win again.

The Lakers, meanwhile, have too often tried to ride the fast track to titles through moves best described as microwave fantasy basketball.

They’ve overreached for sometimes-flashy free agents—the biggest failure being Russell Westbrook—or simply complementary players whose skill sets don’t mesh with superstar LeBron James and the coaching philosophy.

All the while, the Lakers have effectively populated other teams in the league with draft picks who have eventually developed into quality players, some of whom starred during this postseason. A few examples include Brandon Ingram of the New Orleans Pelicans, who lost in the first round of the playoffs; New York Knicks standout Josh Hart, who showed more than just heart in a seven-game second-round playoff loss to the Indiana Pacers and Mo Wagner, a mainstay for the Orlando Magic as they pushed the Cleveland Cavaliers to seven games before bowing out in the first round.

The Lakers have consistently tossed aside quality players as they search for instant success, and that plan has failed.

The Coaching Front

The Celtics switched coaches hastily at the beginning of the 2022–23 season when Ime Udoka was involved in a scandal that eventually got him booted from the organization.

The Celtics promoted capable-but-raw assistant Joe Mazzulla—a strong choice by the team to have on the coaching staff in the first place—and rode him to the Eastern Conference finals last season. But Boston didn’t dump the inexperienced leader after falling short last season. Instead, the club pumped with confidence and kept him in the big chair for a second year, and he rewarded their loyalty by skillfully guiding the team in his age 35 season to a championship that validates the decision.

And now, the franchise has a winning leader in place. Boston identified a strength within its organization, promoted Mazzulla, and backed him when it really counted, in the face of adversity.

On the other hand, the Lakers—who recently failed in a public display of affection in trying to lure Connecticut coach Dan Hurley to their sideline from the college ranks—flip coaches as quickly as some people flip houses.

Mike D’Antoni, Byron Scott, Luke Walton, Frank Vogel, and Darvin Ham have had stints on the Lakers bench since the 2012-13 season.

Hurley turned down a lucrative offer, and now L.A. is reportedly bringing in JJ Redick as its new leader. Redick, though, comes with zero sideline experience after a 15-season playing career.

The closest he has been to the court recently has been with a microphone and some snappy commentary as an analyst. It would be the next questionable move for a franchise that is figuring out its Hollywood story on the fly.

The Lakers are setting themselves up to have an excuse in case of failure.

On-the-Court Production

The offseason move to add guard Jrue Holiday was obviously a perfect fit with Brown and Tatum, but additions such as center Kristaps Porzingis, also known as “The Unicorn,” 38-year-old front-court veteran Al Horford, and guard Derrick White, figured heavily in the equation.

They were given the opportunity to fail and learn from their shortcomings. The result was invaluable experience within Mazzulla’s system that allowed the players to solve the equation and land the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

The Lakers’ James, whose greatness is unquestioned, has been a challenge to play alongside, a tough player to coach and a difficult guy with which to win during his six title-or-bust seasons in Los Angeles. It’s no wonder there’s no rhythm within the Lakers organization, with all the shuffling of players, coaches, and staffers.

The roster, though, appears to be in question, with few developing players. And the wrinkles on James, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, are only multiplying as Lakers GM Rob Pelinka tries to build a competitive roster.

No doubt that the Lakers must be feeling green with envy.

From The Epoch Times