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NBA Finals: Celtics, Lakers to Meet in 1987 Rematch

NBA: L.A. Lakers versus Boston Celtics. After a 21-year break, the NBA's greatest rivalry resumes in the championship round. Here to talk about it is NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman. Hello, good morning.


: So this NBA finals match up, it bridges not just years, but several generations of basketball fans.


GOLDMAN: You know, the '60s really defined the rivalry. The two teams met in the finals six times in eight years, and the Celtics won each time.

: And this match up is something of a surprise in the sense that at the very beginning of the season, neither of these teams looked like they were headed this way.

GOLDMAN: They got the big player, Pau Gasol, and they also brought back Derrick Fisher, and so the Lakers really took off. And you know, as you know in L.A., Renee, they brought the stars back to the Staples Center. It wasn't just Jack Nicholson out there on the court. All the other stars, Antonio Banderas, Cameron Dias, Adam Sandler, they all started showing up.

: And from my perch, I'm happy to say that the Lakers are favored.

GOLDMAN: Yes, yes. That...


: Barely, barely - but they're favored.


GOLDMAN: The Celtics play great defense, though. These great three players I've been talking about, they've bought in to this whole idea of playing strong defense and sharing the ball, and they're very tough at home. So they could make it very close.

: And this series is a - you might call it a crowning moment of a great year and a big difference from last year.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, it really was. It was a rough year last season for the NBA. The finals were, you know, one-sided and rather boring, and there was the big referee-betting-on-games scandal and generally low TV ratings. But this season, the league has really, you can say, been resurgent: exciting teams, exciting individual performances. And then on top of all that, you bring back the Lakers-Celtics rivalry, and the NBA's loving it.

: Tom, thanks.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

: NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.