The Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers are the ultimate NBA rivalry and they will always be, regardless of how different their presence may be, it’s always a game everybody wants to see and nobody’s willing to lose.
Lakers and Celtics share a very long history, with Boston completely dominating the early years of the Association with Bill Russell and Los Angeles leading the way during the Showtime era, with 33 combined titles between both teams (17 for Boston and 16 for LA).
Obviously, being franchises with such a winning culture, they feature a couple of the most hard-nosed fan bases in all major sports, fans so passionate about the team and the players that can just flat out hate any guy that has ever been dressed in their rivals uniform.
Nonetheless, over the course of history, there have been several ballers that have committed the ultimate sin, playing for the Lakers after spending time at Boston or vice versa, something some fans are never going to forgive them about. Today, we’re going to let you know about the top 10 guys that have played for both the Celtics and the Lakers.
10. Brian Shaw
Believe it or not, this combo guard played for the Celtics not once, but twice before retiring with the Los Angeles Lakers, the very same team he wind up being an assistant coach. Shaw made his debut at Boston and had a one year tenure before trying his luck in Italy, coming back the very next season. After 4 seasons dressed in green, he played for the Heat, Magic, Warriors, Sixers, Blazers and obviously: Lakers, where he won 3 rings in 4 seasons.
9. Mel Counts
Mel Counts played center in the league between 1964 and 1976, making his debut with the Celtics over a 3 season span but heading to the Bullets after struggling to get much playing time behind Bill Russell. After winning back to back Championships at Boston, his career really took off while playing for their longtime rivals: the Lakers. Also, the Olympic medalist played for the Suns and Sixers, before coming back to the Lakers and eventually retiring with the Jazz.
8. Clyde Lovellette
Clyde Lovellette was the first player to ever win championships at all levels; NCAA, NBA and the Olympics, playing at center throughout a 12 year span in the earlier stages of professional basketball. Being drafted 9th overall by the Minneapolis Lakers, he was a part of the team for 4 seasons, winning the ring throughout his rookie campaign. Later, he’d go on to play at Cincinnati, St Louis and eventually Boston, where he won 2 more rings and retired.
7. Isaiah Thomas
Isaiah Thomas is the latest player to commit this sin, although he didn’t want to play for the Lakers in the first place. Thomas has been passing around the league ever since making his debut, playing for the Kings and Suns before finally becoming a star in Boston. Sadly, due to injuries and Kyrie Irving’s trade demands, he was let go to have a failed stint with Cleveland, and he’s now trying to prove he’s still got it as the young Lakers’ backup point guard.
6. Rick Fox
Rick Fox was the first rookie small forward to become a Celtics starter since Larry Bird did it, but he was a truly late bloomer, struggling to find consistent playing time until his 5th and 6th season when he got back his starting gig. Nonetheless, he didn’t seem to care much for Boston, as he decided to sign with the Lakers as a free agent after spending 6 years at the Garden. Fox won 3 rings at LA but decided to retire after being traded back to Boston alongside Gary Payton.
5. Don Nelson
Don Nelson was one of the most reliable sixth men in the league during his prime, spending a couple of years with the Chicago Zephyrs before heading to the Lakers, a team that eventually waived him. Immediately signing with Boston, he made his way to 5 rings with the team before becoming an NBA coach. Up to this day, he’s still remembered for his unorthodox free throw shooting form, his consistency, and the invention of the point-forward.
4. Charlie Scott
Charlie Scott arrived at Boston to try and beat Rick Barry and the Warriors, and he became a major offensive factor at the 3 spot alongside JoJo White, combining for over 36 points a game en route to the Finals, where Scott would go on and beat his former team: the Phoenix Suns. After a couple of seasons at Boston, he spent a one year tenure with Los Angeles, but eventually retired with Denver.
3. Gary Payton
Payton was one of the deadliest two-way players in the league during his time with the Sonics, but with the team struggling to make a Championship run, he was eventually dealt to the Bucks. Later, he would join forces with Karl Malone, Shaq and Kobe to try and win a Championship, but after that “Fab Four” squad became a train wrack and failed, he was traded to the Celtics alongside Rick Fox. Gladly for him, he would go on to win the Chip with the Heat, the team where he retired after a couple of seasons.
2. Bob McAdoo
Bob McAdoo is mostly remembered because of his time with the Braves, where he won the ROY and the MVP award, or for being a key element in 2 Championships with Los Angeles between 1981 and 1985. Nonetheless, he also played for the Knicks, Pistons, Nets, Sixers and had a one year tenure with the Celtics as well
1. Shaquille O’Neal
Obviously, Shaq’s prime was with the Lakers, where he won 3 Championships side by side with Kobe Bryant. As a matter of fact, people tend to forget that Shaq played for other teams besides the Magic and the Heat, but when his career was coming to an end, he also had a one year tenure at Phoenix and Cleveland. Also, he would go on and retire as a member of the Celtics, although he was only able to make a couple of appearances and play under 6 minutes a game at the Garden.