LOS ANGELES -- Bill Russell is among those whose play for years played a prominent role in the building of the Celtics-Lakers rivalry that is very much alive and well today with both teams among the top four squads record-wise in the NBA.
But at this time, when the world continues to mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant, Russell - like many Celtics fans - have put their disdain for the Lakers on pause for now.
And in a clear and undeniable move on Russell’s part to show this, he donned a Lakers jersey No. 24 - the number worn by Bryant - while attending Sunday’s Celtics-Lakers game at the Staples Center.
While the gesture may not seem that big a deal, for anyone who has followed this Celtics-Lakers rivalry at any point during its existence, you would understand how Russell wearing the jersey of a Lakers player, was huge.
LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.
When it comes to championships, Boston (17) and the Lakers (16) rank number one and two among all teams in the NBA.
On the Lakers roster now, you have a couple of former Celtics in Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo, with Rondo having won a title with Boston in 2008.
For Boston, there’s Jayson Tatum who has emerged as an All-Star this season in part because of the lessons he learned from his mentor, Kobe Bryant.
And let’s not forget the Anthony Davis saga, a player that the Celtics were highly motivated to make a trade for if not for the fact that Davis and his camp repeatedly told anyone within earshot (or a camera or a microphone or a notebook or …) that he wanted no part of being a Boston Celtic.
But none of that mattered now, not with the loss of Bryant being such a unifying factor that could bring even most hated rivals to put that to the side for the moment; yes, even the Celtics and the Lakers.
And no better example of this was there than 86-year-old Bill Russell who continues to be a trailblazer in a rivalry that’s intensity, always high, is put on pause for the moment in honor of Bryant.