The Lakers Strike Back: Never Rile a Giant

The overwhelming Lakers’ 111-87 victory over Oklahoma City in a contest even more overwhelming than the final score indicated was reminiscent of what happened with another Los Angeles team a generation ago.

The 1984-1985 team coached by Pat Riley was becoming traumatized by losing world championship finales to the mighty Boston Celtics.  On May 27, 1985 the Lakers and Celtics met at Boston Garden in Game 1.

The result was one of the greatest humiliations in Lakers’ history, as the Celtics romped 148-114.  The Boston press, never known for its gentleness, laced into a Lakers team it accused of choking whenever the title was on the line and Boston was the opponent.

Much pounding was directed at then 38-year-old veteran center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  According to the critics Father Time had caught up with the former UCLA great and Game 1 proved it.

Before Game 2, Pat Riley ordered a closed door meeting with his players at the hotel where the Lakers were staying.  The only mystery to hotel patrons and employees was why Riley bothered to bolt the doors shut on the meeting.

Everyone in the nearby vicinity heard the angry shouts and curses of a thoroughly disgusted Riley berating his team.

Riley told his players that the dominance of the Celtics over the Lakers had become so embarrassing that some of the greatest players in the franchise’s history were avoiding attending playoff games between the two teams.

The exhortations to rise to another level was taken to heart by team captain Abdul-Jabbar, who came out and dominated Game 2 as the Lakers evened the series with a 109-102 victory.

This was the linchpin that made championship success possible as the Lakers triumphed in six games, taking the deciding battle at Boston Garden in front of the Celtic faithful and, yes, media, making the victory all the sweeter.

M.L. Carr, a Celtic pl...

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