The league's historic matchups were Wilt Chamberlain/Bill Russell and Magic Johnson/Larry Bird. 8 years in Magic was staging a summer exhibition game and he was to be teamed with Bird for the first time in like EVER. From the NCAA Championship game that is the most watched in history, 3 NBA finals with the NBA's greatest rivals, Lakers/Celtics, then of course every AllStar game of their careers, they'd always been opponents. Sorry, Kobe/LeBron wasn't going to match any of that. It's been awhile since the league was all so exciting, yes.
So the Minneapolis Lakers were formed in 1947 to play in the National Basketball League, something that they did very well from the start. In their first year they had the best record in the league and won their first championship. That would keep going for awhile, although they left the NBL and joined the Basketball Association of America, again the best record in the league and again the champions. Their 3rd year came in their 3rd league, the National Basketball Association was formed from the merger of the Lakers' two previous leagues. And the Lakers took their 3rd championship. Oddly enough, while the 1949 championship with the BBL is counted in the league history, the championship with the NBL is not recognized, nor is the championship of the now Sacramento Kings or two for the now Detroit Pistons. The Indiana Pacers won the American Basketball Association championship 3 times before the leagues merged, the now Brooklyn Nets won once, none of this is recognized.
So the Lakers have 17 championships to match the Boston Celtics, but only get credit for 16. By 2010 they had gone to the championship finals 32 times in 63 seasons, over half the time, but they haven't been back since. During that 2010 season playoffs the league commissioner was asked who he'd like to see the Lakers play in the finals, bringing the answer "I'd like to see the LAKERS play the Lakers in the finals." At the time they were recognized as the world's most popular sports team. Maybe with LeBron they'll get back up there. Maybe there's still hope Lonzo Ball will the the exciting player as billed.
But I don't think we'll ever see another Magic Johnson or Wilt Chamberlain, the only serious choices for the greatest ever. It's so funny to see some player get $10 million a year without creating any real excitement.
Any sufficiently advanced technology is INDISTINGUISHABLE FROM MAGIC!
- Arthur C. Clarke