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Sports Flashback: Which Celtics rival did you love to hate the most?

Larry Bird closely guards Philadelphia's Bobby Jones in a 1982 playoff game.
Larry Bird closely guards Philadelphia's Bobby Jones in a 1982 playoff game.Frank O'Brien/Globe Staff

The Boston Globe and The Sports Museum have teamed up to provide occasional looks back at the good old days of Boston sports, featuring the responses to prompts posted on the museum’s Facebook page from Rusty Sullivan, the museum’s executive director.


On May 26, 1987, Larry Bird stole the ball and fed Dennis Johnson for a layup to give the Celtics an improbable, stunning, and glorious Game 5 victory over Detroit in the Eastern Conference finals. This was also the game that Robert Parish punched Bill Laimbeer. The Celtics had three great rivals in the 1980s — Dr. J and the Sixers, Magic Johnson and the Lakers, and the Pistons. Which rival team did you “love to hate” the most — and why?



▪ During the 70’s, it was the Knicks with Walt Frazier, Willis Reed, Bill Bradley, etc. During the 80’s, it was the 76ers with Dr. J, Andrew Toney, Bobby Jones, etc. Each game was rough and exhausting to watch. I’d add the Lakers but the Celtics didn’t play them as much as the Knicks or 76ers. The Bullets during the 70’s also get some votes.

▪ Sixers — saw them more and they were better than us at first

▪ Johnny Most had me convinced it was Detroit with McFilthy and McNasty!

▪ McDirty [sic] and McNasty for sure.

A few Sports Museum followers veered off and named their “most hated rival” in Boston’s other winter sport:

▪ The Bobby Clarke Flyers were the worst. So many cheap shots against Bobby Orr in the ’74 Stanley Cup Finals. Total punks who degraded an entire sport with their antics. City of Brotherly Love? Ha!

▪ Flyers for their goonism and bringing the sport down.

▪ Penguins for their fraudulent franchise and consistent hypocrisy. Tanked to get Lemieux and more than likely save the franchise. Whined and cried all the time, yet employed the likes of Ulf Samuelsson (and later Matt Cooke ). Ulf helped derail the Bruins solid chance at a Cup in 1991 (up 2-0 in conference final before Ulf/Neely).


▪ Canadiens for their sense of entitlement.

(Follow The Sports Museum on Facebook or Twitter to see daily questions and add your responses to be considered for upcoming installments of this feature.)