In Game 4 of the 1984 NBA Finals, Lakers forward Kurt Rambis broke free on a fast break and was clotheslined by Celtics forward Kevin McHale.
Rambis sprung up to challenge McHale before he stumbled again, and the teams had to be separated before things escalated. And in one of the last rows in the upper reaches of the Forum, 18-year-old Steve Kerr watched it all unfold.
“There’s a mystique that exists with the Celtics, for sure,” the Warriors coach said. “Incredible franchise, incredible history. And for me, just having grown up watching those games and being a fan, it’s pretty cool to be coaching in the Finals against them.”
This is Golden State’s sixth Finals appearance with its current core, but the other teams it faced during this run did not quite have the same mystique. Yes, the Cavaliers — a four-time opponent — had LeBron James, but until they defeated the Warriors in 2016, they did not have any championships.
Then in 2019, the Warriors faced the Raptors, who were making their first Finals appearance.
So Game 3 of these NBA Finals at TD Garden Wednesday night, played beneath the Celtics’ 17 championship banners, should bring some added juice to a Golden State team that has mostly been the one creating it over the last eight years.
“It’s special,” Warriors star Stephen Curry said. “Historic team, dynasties from the ‘80s, how many championships they won over the course of the years, all the different highlights you watch. [They] just have a different, iconic look when you see it on TV.
“Just watching Larry [Bird] do what he did in his entire career, looking at the Boston-LA series, KG, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Rondo, getting the championship here. KG’s hilarious postgame, ‘Anything is possible.’ There’s a lot of history in this city, in this building. Should be an amazing atmosphere out there on the court.”
Kerr played in the NBA from 1988-2003 and said some of the fondest memories came in the old Boston Garden at the start of his career. He recalled one game there against the Celtics when some injuries gave him a rare chance to start.
“I remember going out to halfcourt [before tipoff] and bumping fists,” Kerr said. “Larry Bird actually said, ‘Good luck, Steve.’ I was like, ‘You, too, Larry.’ I was like, ‘What is happening right now?’ It was surreal.”