On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Lakers and Celtics faced off for the first time this season, and it was the first time in almost a decade that the matchup could have been an unlikely but possible Finals preview.
The Lakers and Celtics have been great at the same time so many times that the combination of green and yellow has become the unofficial colorway of NBA history.
Watching players who actually have the talent to rewrite it steeped the game in a layer of nostalgia, recalling old memories and old YouTube wormholes, serving as a reminder that these games are also going to one day exist in historical context, and giving an extra air of pageantry to moments like Jaylen Brown dunking on LeBron James.
Legacy-building and history-making keep the sports machine churning, but the monotony of an 82-game season can dull that fact. Lakers-Celtics matchups bring that rivalry front and center. We become acutely aware of the point of it all, and that makes the game just a little bit better.