By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

On that “Beat LA!” chant

A lot of people are bellowing “Beat LA!” this week who don’t have a clue about where it came from. Even the Outraged Liberal, who knows better (I suspect), invokes not its original meaning, but its obnoxious, chest-thumping reincarnation.

Quick history lesson. In 1982 the Celtics met the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference finals. The Sixers that year were bound for glory, led by Moses Malone, Andrew Toney and a fading but still-vital Julius Erving.

The series came down to a seventh game at the Boston Garden. And as it became clear that the Celtics were going to lose, the classy Boston fans started chanting “Beat LA!” as a way of showing their respect and appreciation for the Sixers.

Correction: The Celtics fans’ chant notwithstanding, the Sixers lost to the Lakers in ’82. The following year they acquired Malone and did, indeed, beat LA.

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  1. essteess

    Trivial addendum (rated PG-13)–The Phoenix, in their report on this game and the series, mentioned the reaction to the crowd’s chant by 76er forward/center/force of humanity Darryl “Chocolate Thunder” Dawkins:”When I heard [‘Beat LA’],” said Dawkins, “my dick got stiff.”

  2. Suldog

    Dan:Thank you. You said, in a much more concise fashion, exactly what I said on my own blog today. always knew you were a good guy, deep down 🙂

  3. Rick in Duxbury

    Speaking of “Dr. J”, I vividly remember a BC team holding him to minor production as UMass was upset. (Erving would leave school soon after for the old ABA).The old Roberts Center was rockin’ with chants of “Doctor Who?” but UMass had the last laugh in the playoffs, (THAT year).

  4. another face at zanzibar

    I’d say the Sixers were bound for glory in 1983, when they beat LA 4-0 in the finals. In ’82, they lost to the Lakers in 6 games.

  5. Dan Kennedy

    Suldog: I like yours better. But as Another Face points out, we both messed up.

  6. another face at zanzibar

    And the Dawkins quote from essteess made me realize that Moses didn’t join the Sixers until the 82-83 season.

  7. Suldog

    Thank you very much, Dan.I don’t think we messed up. We have the dates right. It’s just that the Sixers didn’t get it right until the following year 🙂

  8. Suldog

    Son of a gun. I just checked out Malone’s career record. Yup, I goofed when I included him in my list of Sixers from that year.

  9. Anonymous

    Dan,Do you really think it was to show their “respect and appreciation for the Sixers,” or thier complete and utter contempt for the Lakers?

  10. Bill Toscano

    Rick: Not that I am bitter more than three decades later, but Dad had tickets for the NCAA regional game between UMass and URI, because he had season tickets to the Rams.He had taken me all season.I blithely assumed I would get to see Dr. J.He took my *mother*. My *mother*, who didn’t know Dr. J. from Dr. Richard Kildaire.Arrrggggggggggggg!But not bitter.

  11. Outraged Liberal

    Dan, Dan, Dan, why would you want to deny me some chest-thumping after 21 years of being a frustrated Celtics fan. :-)I do indeed know the origin of the chant. I even remember that I was at a friend’s wedding in Connecticut at the time and had to miss that game. Thank goodness for small blessings.And I would argue that Beat LA is a far less obnoxious chant than “Yankees Suck.”Go Celts — Beat LA!

  12. Dan Kennedy

    O.L.: I used to hate “Yankees suck!” because they so obviously didn’t. But now, uh … it’s accurate.

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