On May 23rd in 1982, the "Beat LA" chants originated at the Boston Garden as the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Boston Celtics 120-106 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Andrew Toney scored a game-high 34 points and also dished out six assists while Julius Erving had an all-round game with 29 points, five assists, four rebounds, three steals, and three blocks. For the Celtics, Robert Parish top-scored with 23 while Larry Bird finished with a near triple-double of 20 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists but it wasn't enough.
So, in the final minutes of the game, in true sportsmanship spirit, the Celtics fans began chanting 'Beat LA' as a message for the 76ers to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers, who were awaiting the winner of this series in the NBA Finals. However, that didn't happen as the Sixers lost to the Lakers 4-2 in the championship series.
This 1982 playoff series between the Celtics and 76ers was one of the five entertaining matchups over a nine-year span between 1977 and 1985.
Four of these playoff series were the Conference Finals including three straight between 1980-82. While it's an even 2-2 in the Conference Finals series, the Philadelphia franchise holds an overall 3-2 edge.
These matchups, however, weren't the beginning It just added more fuel to the fire that had been established between these two franchises in the 1960s headlined by the duel between the superstars in Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell.
This Game 7 in 1982 is probably the first time this chant came alive in the NBA. Nearly four decades later, the chant still continues to rock the Garden (now, the TD Garden) when the Celtics-Lakers have a competitive contest. In fact, over the years, it has even been adopted by other teams (like the Sacramento Kings) when facing the Lakers in their championship-contending days.
Other notable events on May 23rd
- In 1975, the Golden State Warriors recorded an NBA Finals record 17 steals in their 109-101 Game 3 win against the Washington Bullets. The Warriors went on to win the Finals with a four-game sweep for their third title in franchise history.
- In 1976, Dave Cowens leads the Celtics to a 98-87 Game 1 victory against the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals with a double-double of 25 points and 21 rebounds. The Celtics would go on to win in six games - their 13th championship in franchise history.
- In 1978, Bill Walton is named the NBA's MVP. In the 58 games he played, he led the Portland Trail Blazers to a 48-10 record while averaging 18.9 points, 13.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 2.5 blocks. His season was cut short after he suffered multiple foot injuries.
Notable playoff eliminations on May 23rd
- In 1999, the Indiana Pacers recorded their first playoff sweep in a best-of-seven series in the NBA when they defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 4-0 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The 89-86 Game 4 win also booked their fourth Conference Finals appearance in a span of six years (1994-99).
- In 1984, the Boston Celtics advanced to the NBA Finals with a 4-1 series victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in the Conference Finals. The series victory avenged a 4-0 sweep they suffered at the hands of the Bucks in the 1983 Conference Semifinals. It also booked a first of four consecutive Finals appearances for the Celtics (1984-87).
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