There’s nothing better in sports than rivalries. Whether it be Bruins vs. Canadians, Auburn vs. Alabama, Cardinals vs. Cubs, or Red Sox vs. Yankees. But by far, the pinnacle in sports rivalries (in my humble opinion) goes to the Los Angeles Lakers vs. the Boston Celtics. 33 Championships combined between the two legendary, the Lakers and the Celtics will be linked together forever because that rivalry. With that being said, the Lakers/Celtics rivalry finally got the 30 for 30 treatment this past week and I am here to review the 5 hour documentary. Now I won’t be reviewing this like I would a film because this is a documentary. I’ll just be summarizing what they cover and how they covered it. Let’s review Best of Enemies.
Best of Enemies of course begins in the 1950’s where it all began. The documentary is narrated by two people, Donnie Wahlberg for the Celtics and Ice Cube for the Lakers. I actually loved that because they both personify each city perfectly. It focuses on the Celtics’ rise to power when they won 11 Championships in 13 years. It showed the dominance that Bill Russell and Red Auerbach had in the 50’s and 60’s. Then it showed the Lakers’ rise to power led by Jerry West and Elgin Baylor. In the 7 times they met, Boston won every single time. But won thing that I didn’t know that the Lakers were heavy favorites in the 1969 Finals when Wilt Chamberlin joined the team. But once again the Celtics, led by player/head coach Bill Russell won again. The next year, the Celtics didn’t make it to the Finals and the Lakers won my first championship. But the thing that I found amazing was that West basically said that he didn’t enjoy it because it wasn’t against the Celtics. Wow.
Anyway that last about 45 minutes before they move through the 70s. It talks about how each city struggled with race at the time, which I also thought was fascinating. It talked about how the Celtics were still the 2nd team in Boston to the Bruins despite the fact they won 11 Championships. Then it talked about all the riots in LA but how people like Wilt seem to be exempt from racism because of his stardom. So both cities suffered from race and I am glad it wasn’t just a Boston thing.
Then it got to the good stuff, the 80s. It started with that famous college basketball game featuring Larry Bird and Magic Johnson and it ended with that legendary Finals in 1987 with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. The only complaint I had about the entire documentary is basically focused on this time period. If you were going to do that, why not just do a Larry Bird/Magic Johnson 30 for 30? It was cool to show how the Lakers became known for their ShowTime/Hollywood style and how the Celtics became known for their hard working/bully style. But the content was fascinating, especially the 1984 Finals. It was the stuff of legends and even though the Celtics won, everyone (including the Celtics) thought the Lakers were the better team. I thought that was fascinating.
But like I said earlier, it focuses way too much on the 80s. Because of that, they barely talk about the 2008 and 2010 Finals. I thought this documentary was about the ENTIRE history of the rivalry, not just about the 80s. So that is a bit frustrating but I can’t deny the content about the 80s was basically basketball porn. But if there’s one thing I take away from this 30 for 30, when the Celtics and Lakers got together, it wasn’t a basketball game; it was a spectacle. Considering that the Celtics and the Lakers have the number 1 and number 2 pick in the draft on Thursday; we can expect more epic battles for years to come. Two team linked together in history forever.
Written By: Steven Santoro (SVS_1993)