What players are saying about the Lakers-Celtics rivalry

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The defending champion Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics square off in an NBA Finals, that featured the league's most storied franchises.

* Celtics coach Doc Rivers: "All the players who participated (in 2008) obviously have that feeling of rivalry. I think the guys on both teams who didn't participate in 2008 probably have heard the talk and are probably more aware of it than the guys in 2008 were who hadn't been a part of it. But once the games start, then its own story will be written, and that's what we have to focus on."

* Celtics captain and forward Paul Pierce: "I'm soaking this all in. Being able to help continue the rivalry of the Celtics and Lakers for another year and knowing that when you go back and watch these tapes that I will be on them. It's indescribable. I don't think it's going to soak in until my career is all said and done."

* Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant: "I only think about this one matchup. The happy times of Magic (Johnson) winning against Boston or the sad times of Jerry West losing to them has no impact on me whatsoever. I have a series to play. I have a series to win. I'll just focus on that."

* Lakers forward Ron Artest: "This is my first year as a Laker, so I haven't had anything to do with that rivalry. But I guess after tomorrow after I play, I guess I'll be part of it. I know about (Larry) Bird and Magic (Johnson), but other than that, I was always a Chicago Bulls guy."

(Compiled by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue)