You know what's the best thing about this offseason? The swagger's back baby! The swagger: that tangible feeling that the Celtics are not like other teams, that the schedule is a list of probable wins, and that the sole purpose of the rest of the league is to provide a blank canvas for Boston Celtic titles. As November draws near, everybody feels some of the electric spark that used to be commonplace in the old days.
Long ago there were only two types of Celtic seasons. There were championship years, and then there were the seasons between championships; the in-between years. This is the way everyone who followed the team in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s always used to think: If the Celtics weren't celebrating, they were preparing. If they didn't win, the next championship squad was being assembled. Everyone had swagger, from Red Auerbach through the whole organization to every last fan. The swagger was infectious. The swagger was everywhere. It was a thundering communal power.
There were in-between years after Bill Russell and Sam Jones retired. They didn't last long; Havlicek, Cowens and company took care of that. When the 70s contenders fell apart, there came a few more in-between years. Then Bird arrived. The point being that even when the team was down everyone knew the next title was always coming. It wasn't just maybe going to come. Sure as sunrise, the next championship was inevitable...
...Everyone is aware of what's happened since then. 21 years have passed since 1986. But you know what these 21 years have been? As it turns out, maybe they've been nothing more than in-between years, just a longer run than usual.
Let me take a short detour... (Hint, that's a cue to click the "Read More" link below. -- Editor's note)I have a confession to make: I taped the Kevin Garnett press conference. (I know what you're thinking: Uh oh. That's completely demented. Don't make eye contact.) It's alright. Yes I do realize taping offseason press conferences is a classic danger sign. I fully acknowledge that I might need professional help. They say admitting you have a problem is the first step toward recovery...
Anyway I'm not in therapy, but recent years of television viewing lead me to imagine that a typical session would go like this:
Me: "Doctor, I saw some ducks and then fainted next to the swimming pool."
Therapist: "That doesn't mean anything."
Me: I'm also given to fits of homicidal rage which are largely work related."
Therapist: "Mmm. Everyone has their quirks. Don't worry about it."
Me: "Well I taped the entire Kevin Garnett press conference including the follow up segment with Gary Tanguay and Donny Marshall."
Therapist : "What? Really!?! God, oh dear God! That's completely freakin' nuts!"
Me: "Thank you Dr. Melfi. Wow, what a breakthrough. That's explains everything! You've helped me immensely. I feel so much better now."
So yeah, I taped the press conference. Hey it was THE transcendent moment when the swagger returned to greenhearts everywhere.
Halfway through the broadcast Ray Allen looked at Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and said, "When I'm on the perimeter and I know I got these guys behind me, my confidence level goes up sky high. My SWAGGER is through the roof."
There was plenty of cheering at that press conference, from hard-bitten press types too. Why were they cheering? They weren't just cheering Garnett, Pierce and Allen. They weren't just cheering because their jobs got easier. They were cheering the return of the swagger.
The swagger is something everybody shares. It's back, it's magical, and we all get a piece of it. Under previous management, the Celtic organization lost touch with its flame. After Danny Ainge took over, few noticed a rekindling. Suddenly there's a bonfire blazing. This summer has been a revelation. What started as a buzz on draft night has turned to a roar. These are good years coming up. Enjoy them. A lot of people have waited a long time to get this feeling again.