It seems only fitting that the Dr. Jerry Buss era ends with the Los Angeles Lakers playing the Boston Celtics. When Buss took over the Lakers, LA had never defeated Boston in the finals, and the Celtics had directly denied the Lakers seven championships during the Bill Russell and Jerry West era.
Buss sought to change that, but his Lakers lost to Larry Bird’s Celtics in the 1984 NBA Finals with Buss in charge. The next two times, though, Magic Johnson’s Lakers would get the better of the hated Celtics.
Although Boston still leads the head-to-head NBA Finals series 9-3, the Lakers have won three out of the last four June meetings. During the Dr. Buss era, the Lakers won three out of five head-to-head NBA Finals—a marked improvement from 0-7 during the pre-Jerry Buss era.
On Wednesday, the two most storied franchises in NBA history play for the last time this season. It is the first time the Lakers will take the floor without Dr. Buss serving as owner of the franchise in over three decades, and the Lakers playing the Celtics only fits too well.
Never mind that neither team appears ready to compete for the NBA Championship this season. If there was one thing Dr. Buss would ask of his Lakers team to do, it would be to beat the Celtics.
Dr. Buss “talked about getting another championship and trying to put the Celtics in the rear view mirror,” Kobe Bryant said when reflecting on his last memories of Dr. Buss. Until the end, Dr. Buss still talked about beating the Celtics.
The Lakers currently have 16 Championships, while the Celtics have 17.
These two teams met two weeks prior to Wednesday night’s game, and Boston massacred the Lakers 116-95. That game was not even as competitive as the final score would describe. However, the Lakers had a suitcase full of excuses and a doctor’s note that excused them for that poor showing.
On Wednesday night, however, there will be a special presentation in honor of Dr. Buss prior to the game. Beating the Celtics on Wednesday night may not be a requirement to make the playoffs, but it would do a great deal to heal the city of Los Angeles and the global Lakers nation mourning the death of the beloved Dr. Buss.
Win this one for Dr. Buss!