1962 Finals – Lakers v Celtics
In the midst of the Boston Celtics dynasty (sixth straight finals appearance), the Los Angeles Lakers attempted to put a halt to their unparalleled success. Boston had won three consecutive championships consecutively and aimed for the fourth. Holding the home court advantage the fourth championship in a row looked promising. Both teams traded wins in the first six games. The Celtics won Game 1 followed by a Lakers win on the road and the pattern continued until eventually reaching Game 7 back in Boston.
The stars came out to play in an extremely competitive game. Lakers standouts Elgin Baylor and Jerry West contributed with 41 and 35 points. While Bill Russell was not to be outdone as he scored 30 points along with an incredible 40 rebounds. Even with Russell’s massive double-double, the Lakers found themselves in a position to win in the last seconds of the game. With the game leveled at 100-100, Lakers’ Frank Selvy shot the potential game-winning jumper as time expired, but unfortunately, it was not to be as it rimmed out. In overtime, the Boston Celtics outlasted the Lakers with a final score of 110-107 giving the city of Boston it’s fourth consecutive championship.
1969 NBA Finals – Lakers v Celtics
Lakers and Celtics had made it the norm for both franchises to meet in the finals during this period in the league. Although, the rivalry that had been built up over the years was completely one-sided. Since the Lakers move to Los Angeles, Boston had won the first five finals encounters, the most recent victory at that point coming the year before in the 1968 finals (4-2 series).
This time around, the Lakers held home court advantage and looked in good shape after the first two games, winning both to take the 2-0 series lead into Boston. However, the Celtics took care of business at home and tied the series at 2-2. Once more, the home team would go on to win Games 5 and 6. The series went to Game 7 in Los Angeles. No home team had taken a Game 7 loss up to this point in NBA history. In a tight game, the Boston Celtics were led by John Havlicek, Sam Jones and Em Bryant scoring 26, 24 and 20 points respectively. Bill Russell did not have much effect on the offensive end with a mere 6 points but did haul in 21 rebounds. Through those contributions, Boston held a 100-83 lead early on in the fourth quarter. Although, Jerry West and the Lakers would continue to fight until the bitter end. West filled up the stat sheet with a triple-double, 42 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists. With little time left, the Lakers cut the Celtics lead to one point, 103-102.
During the comeback, Wilt Chamberlain had gone down with a knee injury and took himself out of the game. When the Lakers had cut the deficit, Chamberlain wanted to return to the match, but coach Butch van Breda Kolff decided to keep him on the bench. The two had not seen eye to eye throughout the season. As the game wound down, Boston’s Don Nelson broke the Lakers’ hearts after getting hold of a loose ball and draining a clutch shot to eventually give the Celtics a 108-106 victory. Jerry West won the inaugural finals MVP award although being on the losing side and still remains the only player to complete that feat.
1988 NBA finals – Lakers v Pistons
The defending champion Lakers met the Detroit Pistons in the 1988 finals and looked to make it back to back championships after beating the Celtics the year prior. It was an entertaining match-up as point guard’s Magic Johnson and Isaiah Thomas would battle it out in the span of 7 games. The Lakers held home court advantage, however, they didn’t get off to the best start as the Pistons took Game 1 in Los Angeles.
The showtime Lakers did not disappoint in Game 2 as they would tie the series at one a piece. Thereafter the series would go back in forth between the two leading back to a Game 7 in Los Angeles. Not only did the Pistons fail to close out the series at home in Game 6, but they also saw Thomas go down due to an ankle injury. He had dropped 43 points in the game as the Pistons lost 102-103. With Thomas in obvious discomfort throughout the game, the Lakers took advantage and led 83-73 going into the fourth quarter after falling behind earlier.
Behind James Worthy’s triple-double, 36 points, 16 rebounds and 12 assists the Lakers stretched the lead 94-79 midway through the quarter. By that point, it was almost all but over. Detroit somehow made an improbable push to make the game extremely tight at the end. With just over a minute to play, the Pistons were within two points of the Lakers, 102-100. Then after a Bill Laimbeer three, the score was 105-106 with only five seconds remaining. Hectic scenes filled the court after as the Lakers went for a quick layup instead of just simply running out the clock. Fans and players prematurely scattered the court as the Pistons attempted a long inbound pass to Thomas and looked to be fouled but no call was made. The Lakers became back to back champions with James Worthy’s triple-double earning him the finals MVP award.