Hey, the finals finally start Thursday night. And since Ball Don't Lie is such a nice set of guys, here's a list of mostly true facts that you'll want to memorize so you sound like the smartest guy at the party. Why 28 facts? Because that's what number Sam Cassell(notes) wore for the Celtics, duh. Oh, and come join us for our world-renowned liveblog around 9 p.m. ET. It'll be fun. I promise.
1. Prior to this finals, the two teams have met for the championship 11 times. The Celtics have won all but two.
2. The Celtics lead the all-time series between the two 152-120.
3. The Celtics-Lakers rivalry is kind of why the weird 2-3-2 schedule was invented. From Basketbawful:
"The NBA, in collusion with CBS, had opted on a new 2-3-2 format for the NBA Finals. The company line was that the change was made to cut down on travel. This, of course, was complete and utter shenanigans. It was done for money, not to save the teams and media a few bucks on travel expenses. As Peter May explained: "CBS needed a series of at least six games to make a profit, and the chances of a six-game series were better with a 2-3-2 format." Proof positive that this decision was not made for basketball purposes: The format has remained 2-2-1-1-1 for every other playoff round. Anyway, the biggest problem with the revised format is that it forces the team with homecourt advantage to play Game 5 on the road. And most NBA experts and players — and Larry Bird is prime among them — feel strongly that Game 5 is the most pivotal game of any playoff series."
4. Seriously, Ron Artest(notes) wears No. 37 because that's how many weeks Michael Jackson's "Thriller" was on top of the music charts. I guess that makes as much sense as P.J. Brown(notes) wearing No. 93 in 2008.
6. This happened in a Lakers-Celtics finals game:
7. Lamar Odom(notes) is now denying that his wife, Khloe Kardashian, is pregnant. However, in this totally bizarre scene, Khloe pats her belly and says "it's OK little baby" in a little kid voice. Who are you going to believe?
8. Another thing spawned by the rivalry: James Worthy's signature goggles. Once again, Basketbawful:
"James Worthy was poked in the eye in Game 5, and the injury forced him to wear goggles in Game 6. He would go on to wear them for the rest of his career. Just in case you were wondering about that."
9. Jerry West won MVP in 1969, the only player on a losing team to ever do so. His reward was a green Volkswagen Beetle. ZING!
11. The Celtics and Lakers made a combined 13 of the 20 possible finals appearances in the 1980s. Math says that's 65 percent, which is a lot of percent.
12. Bird vs. Magic: Regular season, Magic won 11 of 19 head-to-head meetings. Finals, Magic won 10 of 17. Magic also won the in-game smiles competition.
13. Former Celtic Rick Fox wore No. 17 for the Lakers because he was going to help the Lakers get a championship before the Celtics franchise got their seventeenth or something like that. Andrew Bynum(notes) wears it because he was 17 when he was drafted. Different strokes for different folks.
14. That "Beat L.A." chant you always hear? Yeah, that's Boston's. From the Boston Globe:
For most fans, the chant is reminiscent of the playoff games in the old Boston Garden in the 1980s, when Magic Johnson squared off against Larry Bird and the Celtics, and Lakers dominated the NBA.
But that's not when the chant took off in Boston. It actually started as a chant supporting the Philadelphia 76ers.
With 26 seconds to go in Game 7 of the 1982 Eastern Conference finals at the old Garden and the Sixers pulling away from the soon-to-be ex-champs, the crowd began to chant the now-famous phrase. Philadelphia, after all, would be facing the hated Lakers in the NBA Finals.
"You hear what the crowd is chanting to the Sixers? 'Beat LA,'" said CBS color commentator and Celtics legend Bill Russell as the Sixers were beating Boston 117-105 as the seconds ticked down.
15. Late in the 2008-09 season, a shrinking ray shrank Kobe Bryant. He seems to be doing OK now.
17. Doc Rivers, Michael Finley(notes) and Shannon Brown(notes) all played at Proviso East High School in Maywood, Illinois. Finley's sister was a cheerleader when Rivers was the star player for the Pirates, and Rivers claims that he remembers the day Finley was born. Since that story was chiseled into stone tablets during ancient times, it's likely that Rivers is telling the truth.
18. Phil Jackson looks exactly like Jemaine Clement from "Flight of the Conchords," except 40 years older.
20. Sometimes, when Paul Pierce(notes) suffers shoulder injuries he has to be taken off the court in a wheelchair, only to return later as if there were no injuries. This happens most often against the Lakers for reasons unknown.
22. Celtics backup guard Tony Allen(notes) is, along with bandmate Fela Kuti, one of the founders of Afrobeat music. Allen was the drummer and musical director for Kuti's Africa 70 band from 1968 to 1979. Wait. Wrong guy. Tony Allen is just a guard who looks angry a lot.
23. Kobe Bryant's favorite television show ever is "Moesha!"
24. Chevy Chase once played for the Lakers. Ed Lover once played for the Celtics. Advantage: Lakers.
26. Nate Robinson has been known to wear Kobe Bryant's shoes. Here's guessing he won't during the finals because Kobe would clown him so hard.
28. The two teams split their season series this year, with each team losing on their home court. Homecourt advantage is overrated.