As a native New Yorker, I can say without bias that there is no greater rivalry in sports than the Yankees and the Red Sox. But the second best rivalry? That’s tough. Alright, not really. It’s the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers.
Now granted, the rivalry isn’t what it once was as both teams are in two completely different positions following the 2016-17 NBA season. 50 years after Wilt, 30 years after Showtime, and nearly a decade after Boston’s Big Three took on Kobe’s, the Celtics are Eastern Conference contenders, although they likely won’t win over the Cavaliers as long as LeBron James is there. And the Lakers are set for another year of rebuilding.
At least, however, they’ve added Lavar Ball. Who needs Lonzo when you have someone who could do what the Celtics couldn’t do and beat Michael Jordan one on one?
Today, you’ll be asked to look at players who have been on one side of the rivalry and tell us which team they played for. Because there have been players that have worn both the Celtics green and the Lakers gold, we have eliminated players such as Shaquille O’Neal from this quiz because we saw no use in putting a ‘both’ option.
In addition, not all of the players that you’ll see below won a championship with either team. Some were valuable role pieces, some were on playoff teams, and a couple (even) were around during both franchises’ ‘dark years.’
If that’s all well and fine, then pick your side and let’s begin this quiz.
We start our list off with current Lakers assistant coach James Worthy, a seven-time All-Star and a North Carolina star. The top pick of the 1982 NBA Draft, Worthy had plenty of big moments in the Lakers-Celtics rivalry of the 1980's, dropping jaws with his dunks and averaging 21.1 points per game on .544 shooting over 143 career playoff games. Inducted into the Hall of Fame back in 2003, James was definitely worthy of his spot...okay, I'll stop. Which team was he on?
A. C. Green
Probably best known among younger fans for his Iron Man streak, A.C. Green was more than just a player that never missed a game from 1987 to 2001. A three-time NBA champion and an All-Star in 1990, Green played for several teams in his career, spending the bulk of the 1990's with the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks. Averaging 9.6 points and 7.4 rebounds for his career, Green was a solid starter on some teams and a valuable bench contributor on others. Did Green play for the Celtics or the Lakers?
The king of the Hyperbole who makes every ESPN broadcast he does an absolute joy to listen to, it can be easy to forget that Bill Walton was once an NBA star. A big man with Hall of Fame potential, Walton's career was beset by foot injuries, although that didn't stop him from being dominate in the paint when healthy. Well, before he was rocking tie-dye shirts and discussing pot on the air, Walton was making an impact in the Celtics-Lakers rivalry but for which side?
There will be two generations of people that know Mychal Thompson—those who remember him for his solid NBA career in the 1980's and those who only know him because his son, Klay, is an All-Star and two-time champion for the Golden State Warriors. Don't you love the importance of family? The first overall pick in the 1979 NBA Draft, 'Sweet Bells', won two championships as part of the Celtics-Lakers rivalry, making him and Klay one of only four father-son duos that have won championships. Which side was Thompson on?
A well-traveled NBA head coach for the New Jersey Nets, New Orleans Hornets (now the Pelicans), Cleveland Cavaliers, and even the Lakers, it can be easy to forget Byron Scott was an NBA player. A point guard during the 1980's, Scott won three NBA titles and averaged 14.1 points per game before taking his first assistant coaching job in 1998 with the Sacramento Kings. Which side of the rivalry was Scott, the fourth overall pick in 1983 by the Clippers, on?
More or less, we've gone from the best entrees on the menu to the stuff that's a bit cheaper and lacks the glamour of the other meals. Still, that's not to say that Kendrick Perkins wasn't a productive big man when healthy, contributing for several teams and making an NBA Finals with the Cavaliers. However, Perkins' best days came when he was part of the Celtics-Lakers rivalry as a hard body in the paint. Which side was Perkins playing for?
Do you remember when Rasheed Wallace, who we last saw in the NBA as a veteran with the Knicks, joined the Lakers-Celtics rivalry? Probably not, as everyone only seems to remember him for his elite days with the Detroit Pistons, but there was a time in the late 2000's when Wallace joined the greatest rivalry in basketball. Granted, he didn't do much of anything memorable, but he did make the NBA Finals with one of these teams. Do you remember which one?
Remember that list we mentioned earlier about father-son duos winning titles? Bill Walton and his son, Luke, are also on that list. Currently the Lakers' head coach and a former assistant with the Golden State Warriors, Luke carved out a nice NBA career for himself as a role player on various teams, although he was never the player that his father was. But hey, Walton got to take home two rings for himself, so all is well. Which side was Luke on?
That's not the Wesley Matthews who plays for the Dallas Mavericks, you say. Well, that's true. This is his father, Wes Matthews Sr. The 14th overall pick of the Washington Bullets in 1980, Matthews played everywhere from the NBA to the United States Basketball League to even Italy, but also spent time in the Lakers-Celtics rivalry during the late 1980's. Which side was he on? Rather than finding his son and asking him, why don't you take a guess below?
I did not remember Eddie House's stint with the Miami Heat in 2010-11, which was one of his better seasons as a sixth man/key reserve. But I remembered his brief stint with the Knicks the season before. Interesting. A journeyman wing for several teams in the mid-2000's, House got to take part in the Lakers-Celtics rivalry and won a championship with one of the teams. Was it alongside Paul Pierce in Boston or Kobe in Hollywood? Now, you tell me!
Before making your jokes about Delonte West and LeBron James' mother, can we please ask you to focus? Obviously best remembered for his days alongside LeBron in Cleveland during the 2000's, West became a bit of a journeyman after a trade following LeBron's departure for Miami. But there was a time when the guard was part of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry. As you contemplate which Delonte West-Gloria James joke you should make when tweeting this quiz out, can you at least answer this question?
When you take away the Hall of Famers and players with retired numbers, I'd have to think Robert Horry is among the easiest choices on this list. Now in broadcasting, 'Big Shot Rob' won seven titles in his NBA career, two of which came with the Houston Rockets and another two with the San Antonio Spurs. The other three, however, came on one of these two teams, where he made several key postseason shots that he's forever remembered for. Please get this right.
And if Robert Horry was obvious, then this one should be even easier. I mean, come on. This is BRIAN SCALABRINE we're talking about! The White Mamba! The former New Jersey Nets wing who remains a fan favorite even after the team moved to Brooklyn. But seriously though, you should have no problems telling us which side of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry Scal was on. If you get this one wrong, we suggest you just quit the quiz right here. Ready?
The generation of Celtics and Lakers fans that only became fans when their respective Big Threes were formed in the 2007-08 NBA season aren't likely to know the impact Dennis Johnson had on this great rivalry during the Showtime days. A Hall of Fame point guard who also spent time with the Sonics, Johnson was beloved by one group of fans and begrudgingly hated but respected by the other fanbase. Which side did the future Los Angeles Clippers coach play for?
Another Hall of Famer, Redmond made a name for himself in the NBA as part of the late 1980's Golden State Warriors teams that featured RUN TMC—Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, and Chris Mullin. Richmond would have success in other towns, especially with the Sacramento Kings. But this trio is what people think of when they hear his name. Well, that and Richmond winning a championship when he joined the Lakers-Celtics rivalry at the end of his career. Which side was he on?
Obviously, Pat Riley was the Lakers coach during the Showtime days–which gets forgotten about because of his success with the Miami Heat–but he was a player too! Unlike Phil Jackson, Riley's playing career is understandably overshadowed by his coaching and executive days, so you may be surprised to know that the Hall of Famer had a lengthy NBA career in the late 1960's through the mid-1970's. Which side of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry did he play for? Please guess this one right.
We're going to refrain from making a 'Big Ball' joke because Sam Cassell is so much more than a gesture. Well, we could say the same thing about celebrities who flip the middle finger at fans, but Cassell was an All-Star point guard that shined alongside Kevin Garnet in Minnesota. Can they bring back those jerseys as part of the rebrand? Anyway, Cassell, now the Clippers' assistant coach, finished his career on one of these two teams, but which team was it?
What words would you use to describe that face? Shocked people remembered him enough to put him on a list like this? Confused that he was a member of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry? We have nothing but love for James Posey, especially with the defense he provided in some of the NBA 2K games when he was on New Orleans. But that face is a lot to write about. Anyway, Posey played for one of these teams in the waning days of his career, but which team?
Before there was Dwayne Wade, Shaquille O'Neal, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, or Dion Waiters in Miami, there was Glen Rice. A three-time All-Star guard/forward that won both an NCAA championship with Michigan and an NBA Finals with (team retracted because we're not spoiling the answer), Rice was the face of the early Miami Heat and led the team to two playoff appearances. Becoming a journeyman at the end of his career, the then 33-year-old Rice won his lone NBA finals as a...
Over at The Sportster, I've made a case for Michael Finley being more of an underrated player for his time, especially given that some of his best years came on the Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki-led Mavericks. Anyway, Finley won the 2007 NBA Finals with the San Antonio Spurs and made two All-Star Games, but many will forget that in his final season, he participated in the Lakers-Celtics rivalry after leaving Texas. Which of the two teams did Finley join?
Another easy one, right? Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003 and one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History when that list was first published in 1996 (now, would he even crack the top 100? Think about that for a second), Parish won four NBA titles and was a nine-time All-Star during the 1980's and 1990's. This is one of those questions that, if you've made it this far without quitting, you shouldn't get wrong. You ready?
When the mid-2000's New York Knicks were a miserable mess led by Isiah Thomas–although not as much of a miserable mess as the team currently run by Phil Jackson–there were players who came out of nowhere to produce highlights. Chris Duhon, who began his career in Chicago and was a decent point guard, was another of those players and actually had 22 assists in a game with the Knicks. Later in his career, was Duhon on the Celtics or Lakers?
Duhon's teammate in New York, Nate Robinson, is probably the most memorable player (discounting Stephon Marbury) of the pre-Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony Knicks. An explosive sixth man, Robinson was best known for his highlight dunks, which led to him winning several Slam Dunk competitions in his prime. Man, we miss Nate! When is he making an NBA comeback? Before becoming a true journeyman, Robinson joined one of these two teams after being traded from the Knicks. Who wanted Nate and his dunks?
I would argue that Antawn Jamison is known for two things—the first of those being his partnership with Gilbert Arenas on the mid-2000's Washington Wizards where both made All-Star Games and took the team to the postseason. The other, unfortunately for Antawn, was being on the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers that lost 26 straight games. How is that even humanly possible? Oh, tanking. Jamison finished his career in Los Angeles with the Clippers, but he also spent some time as a...
What is Karl Malone doing on this list? He played his entire career for the Utah Jazz! You're trying to trick us! Well, we DO love tricking you, but the idea that Karl Malone played his entire career with the Jazz is an unfortunate myth. Yep, although The Mailman will always be remembered for his time with the Jazz, he actually spent time with another team at the end of his career; a team that was in the Lakers-Celtics rivalry. Which team was that?
Did we intentionally go from Karl Malone, one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history, to one of the league's biggest busts in Adam Morrison? Perhaps. Really, there's not many positive things to say about Morison other than him winning a title with one of these teams. But seriously, though, you and I both know how bad he was. Then again, this IS the Charlotte Bobcats we're talking about who drafted Morrison, and this Michael Jordan mistake was worse than Kwame Brown. Who did Morrison play for?
Awesome! We can talk about someone who WASN'T a bust. Sorry, Adam. Now playing in Ice Cube's BIG3 league, this O'Neal–no relation to Shaq, by the way–played for a lot of teams but helped contribute to a lot of teams. Making six straight All-Star Games from 2002-07, O'Neal came up with the Portland Jail Blazers and spent 2000-08 with the Indiana Pacers before only finding one team that would employ him for more than a full season...and that was one of these teams. Do you remember which?
Like with Riley and Phil Jackson, it can be easy to forget that Danny Ainge–who at this point seems like a lock for the Hall of Fame–was an NBA player thirty years ago. In fact, Ainge was an All-Star in 1988 and played for four teams, including the Sacramento Kings, Portland Trail Blazers, and Phoenix Suns (which he'd later become a coach of). But, Ainge spent the bulk of his career with one of these teams. Well, answer the question already!
The twin brother of fellow NBAer Harvey Grant, Horace Grant is probably best remembered by you young'uns for his three championships with the Chicago Bulls from 1987-94. After that, Grant bounced around a bit, spending five years in Orlando, another year in Seattle, and so on. An All-Star in 1994, Grant won his fourth and final ring as a member of which team? Given that we mentioned the years he played in Chicago, the answer should be pretty obvious here.
A successful NBA head coach whose accomplishments get forgotten about because of how things ended in Houston, McHale is the final coach and/or executive who we forget had a solid playing career. In fact, McHale had an excellent playing career, making seven All-Star Games, three All-Defensive First Teams, and an All-NBA First Team in 1987. Oh, and there's the three NBA Finals he won. Hell, McHale was even inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player! Which team did McHale spend his entire NBA career for?
We mentioned Chris Duhon and Nate Robinson earlier, but what about the veteran point guard that the two replaced on the Knicks? Before all of the drama with Isiah Thomas, Stephon Marbury was a hell of a point guard–and we saw that during his long stint in China–but it is easy to forget that because of...well...the drama with Isiah. Marbury's final NBA days came with one of these two teams. But do you remember which franchise it was? Was it with the Lakers or with the Celtics?
I miss Leon Powe, man. The guy was nothing special in the NBA after a solid career at the University of California, but he was a solid body in the paint and a valuable piece for several teams in the late 2000's. A second-round pick in the 2006 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets, Powe played the majority of his NBA career for this team and won a title with them. We're in the home stretch, so get this one right!
When all is said and done on Carlos Boozer's career, as in, when he was eligible for the Hall of Fame, will people remember his dominance in Utah in addition to when things went bad at the end? Hopefully, but the NBA does have a bad case of the recent bias. So, we'll see. In his final days as an NBA player, Boozer joined this rebuilding team as a veteran leader. This was recent, so you should get this one right.
Because we love you so much and our gut tells us that you're on the verge of failing, we're going to end this with a couple freebies. Look, if you know the Lakers-Celtics rivalry at all, then you know which side 'The Truth' came from. Although Pierce spent his final years bouncing around from Brooklyn to Washington to the Clippers, his heart and soul remains with one team from the greatest basketball rivalry. Which side was Pierce on? Get this one right.
Do I even need to write anything here? You know which side Kobe Bryant was on, I know which side Kobe Bryant was on, but I want to have you leaving this tip feeling good. You know, unless you're at like 20 percent correct which I don't even think a newcomer to the sport would be at. Can you please just tell me which side of Lakers-Celtics the Black Mamba was on? Even if you're not a basketball fan, this should be easy!