NBA playoffs: Warriors-Lakers reignite

SAN FRANCISCO — Chants of “Beat L.A.!” will welcome the Los Angeles Lakers into the Chase Center tonight. It’s a rite of passage into their conference semifinal series with the Warriors and it’s another battle in the LA-vs.-SF, surf-vs.-turf war.

In-state rivalries abound through other sports and other decades, sometimes en route to iconic moments.

A championship is not an immediate reward for the victor of this seven-game series, unlike the last time Steph Curry’s Warriors played a series against a LeBron James-led team. That 2018 NBA Finals sweep was James’ final set of games with the Cleveland Cavaliers before he then fled to the Lakers.

What is the best playoff memory pitting the Bay Area vs. Los Angeles?

One ground rule: Play-in games do not count. That goes for the 1962 Giants tiebreaker win over the Dodgers for a World Series spot, and that goes for the Lakers’ 2021 play-in win over the Warriors for the No. 7 seed.

This Warriors-Lakers series should be epic with Curry and James each vying for their fifth ring. For now, these are the most memorable playoff moments among the Bay Area’s professional franchises against Los Angeles’:


The 1988 World Series opener took a drastic turn with Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit, hobble-off home run into Dodger Stadium’s right-field bleachers. “She. Is. Gone!” Vin Scully said of Dennis Eckersley’s pitch. “In a year that’s been so improbable, the impossible has happened.” The Dodgers clinched the title five days later, with a Game 5 win at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.


En route to their fourth Super Bowl in nine years, the 49ers dispatched the Los Angeles Rams and haunted quarterback Jim Everett in the NFC Championship Game, a 30-3 home win at Candlestick Park.

That was their only playoff meeting until two years ago, when the Rams returned the favor and won the NFC crown 20-17 at home en route to their own Super Bowl win.


Eric “Sleepy” Floyd scored a record 29 points in a fourth-quarter outburst and finished with 51 points to beat the “Showtime” Lakers, in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals. “Sleepy Floyd is Superman!” play-by-play man Greg Papa hollered amid the 129-121 win on May 10, 1987. (The Warriors would host Game 5 next Wednesday, May 10.)

That 1987 series ended in Game 5, and it was one of six series lost by the Warriors since winning their first matchup with the Lakers in 1967. Only one of those series reached a Game 7, which the 1977 Lakers won at The Forum as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar tallied 36 points and 27 rebounds in a 97-84 final.

The Warriors lost another Game 7 to another Los Angeles team come 2014, when Curry’s 33 points were not enough to prevent a 126-121 defeat to the Clippers.


We take you now to the 2002 World Series in Anaheim. True, that is not even in Los Angeles County, but for the sake of this NorCal-vs.-SoCal history lesson, we can’t ignore it. Down went the Giants in Games 6 and 7. Most memorable was Game 6, when manager Dusty Baker pulled Russ Ortiz and handed him a memento ball, with a 5-0 lead in the seventh inning … of 6-5 defeat to the host Angels and their Rally Monkey.

If “Anaheim” is disqualification for this exercise, and if the 1962 tiebreaker is disallowed because it technically wasn’t the postseason, then we must turn to the 2021 National League Division Series. The Giants and Dodgers were dead even – 2-2 in games, 1-1 on the Game 5 scoreboard – until Camilo Doval surrendered a ninth-inning RBI single to Cody Bellinger. Yes, we know, many other games were more memorable, but those were in the regular season, or in New York’s Polo Grounds (“The Shot Heard Round The World” in a 1951 tiebreaker).


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