Prior to the Lakers February 9th game against the Boston Celtics, I pondered whether or not the Lakers-Celtics rivalry was the greatest in sports. In the article, I made the point that "The greatest rivalries are when every game – preseason, regular, or playoff game – SERIOUSLY matters."
And because each game between these two teams always matters, it's hard not to treat games like the one happening later on today as just another regular season game. We already know how past players feel about the rivalry, but current players usually stick to generic terms and phrases when talking about other teams. Players always want to win, but respect the other team and the history between the two teams. Maybe the rhetoric heightens during a playoff series, but players rarely treat a regular season game differently than any other.
That invisible rhetoric barrier was broken after the Lakers last game in Minnesota. When reporters asked about the Lakers upcoming game against the Boston Celtics, Andrew Bynum shouted across the Lakers' locker room: "We're going at they head. We're going at the Celtics' rack. Yo, we going at the Celtics' rack. At they head. Because we don't like them boys." A sportsbook review of the game listed the Lakers as 6 point favorites over the Celtics at game time.
While I (as well as all Lakers fans) feel the exact same way, it's notable that these type of comments are coming before a regular season game. Kobe went the traditional "politically correct" route when asked about Bynum's comments: "It's true. We're going to go at them, they're going to go at us. That's where we enjoy going against them. They're playing extremely well. (Rajon) Rondo has obviously had a monster game as of late. We're going to go at them, and they're going to go at us. That's just how it is."
Even Matt Barnes, noted loose cannon and somewhat of the current Lakers enforcer, wouldn't stoke the fire: "Go at their heads?" Barnes said, chuckling. "Andrew's a character. He's playing well right now, and he's got an amazing swag. You just got to let him be him. That just means we're ready to play."
Andrew Bynum has often been criticized for immaturity and poor decision making, but as a fan, it's great to know that your team actually cares. It's one of the main reasons why many love Kobe Bryant, because it's always apparent that he wants to win. As fans, it's all that we can really hope for. Players on the team you love, having the desire to play hard and win each and every game, and legitimately hating the team that you hate as well.
Bynum's comments may fire up the Celtics, being used as "locker room bulletin board material", but that's OK. If anything, it ensures that both teams play inspired an passionately on Sunday, giving us fans a great game to watch.
- Mark Slattery is a Senior Writer for ChatSports.com, as well as the co-founder, writer, and editor of the award winning sports and travel website www.coupleofsports.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
As if you needed any other motivation to be pumped for today's game, here's a couple of videos to get you in the mood:
History of the Lakers/Celtics rivalry:
A couple of longer videos, but you should watch them if you wanna spend your morning with a gigantic smile on your face:
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