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FORT LAUDERDALE _ Thankfully, we're spared.
A Lakers-Celtics NBA Finals would have evoked plenty of nostalgia, further revived NBC's ratings. But there simply is no bridge to the past.
The league is larger. Free agency means no one stays in one place long enough to establish a true bi-coastal rivalry. The salary cap works against the types of loaded rosters featured by previous renditions of Celtics and Lakers. In today's dollars, Parish-Bird-McHale-Ainge-D.J. would cost what, $100 million, $200 million? Ditto for Kareem-Magic-Worthy-Scott and Green.
"I don't think you should go there," Heat coach Pat Riley said last week, when asked about the allure of a potential Lakers-Celtics revival, one forestalled by the Celtics' season-ending loss Friday to New Jersey. "The one thing I've learned about change is this league today is so unlike the league the in the `80s. It just is.
"The nature of the players, the nature of the advertising, the marketing, the music, the approach of the players, the look of the players _ everything is so different. The wont of the player? I just think we're in a different stage."
As coach of the Lakers in the `80s, Riley found himself trapped in his own set of comparisons.
"I think the era of the Celtics and the Lakers in the `80s can't even be compared to the Celtics and the Lakers in the `60s," Riley said. "And I don't think they should even get into it now.
"One of the things that upset us as Lakers in the `80s is that we were carrying the albatross on our back of never having beaten the Celtics. I can …