BOSTON — The Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers will always be connected.
As one of the most storied rivalries in NBA history, there are deep roots between the teams and they’ll face off in their 13th postseason series beginning Monday night in Boston.
That history and tradition are important to Brett Brown, who made a point to give his team a lesson on the morning of the series opener
“It was the first thing that we showed this morning,” Brown said. “Because I grew up in New England and I’m not young. I get the history of what goes on with our two organizations intimately. I think it’s incredibly exciting to revisit that with my young guys and show them, before we even got into X’s and O’s and scout tape, a look at the history here.”
The Sixers watched a video Monday morning before shootaround with highlights of legends such as Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Julius Erving and Larry Bird. Although those players have long been away from the court, their imprint on the league and the importance of the two franchises are not lost on the Sixers’ younger players.
“With Wilt and Bill and all the guys that have laid the foundation for us to play now, obviously it was before we were born but you appreciate the talent that they had and the rivalry that was put in place,” 26-year-old T.J. McConnell said.
It doesn’t matter that it’s been six years since the Celtics and Sixers have met in the postseason or decades since the two teams both were powerhouses in the NBA. The fan bases remember the glory days. As stories are passed down each generation, the rivalry remains fierce.
This past summer, the Sixers traded with the Celtics to move up and take Markelle Fultz with the first overall pick in the 2017 draft. The Celtics then took Jayson Tatum at No. 3. It’s just another piece of the puzzle that keeps the teams linked.
The youth – with players such as Fultz and Tatum – and success of both squads this season lend to the notion that the rivalry is far from lost. In fact, it feels as if it has gained new life.
“I think Boston and Philly will always be a rivalry in basketball no matter what,” McConnell said.
“It’s something historic and something very special,” Brown said. “In the series that we’re about to play and compete in, there’s a lot that’s gone on long before us that is worth knowing about. I enjoy educating our young players about that history.”
On Monday night, another chapter will begin in the never-ending story between the Celtics and Sixers.