A team of former champions stumbling through an injury and age plagued regular season, only to make a historic run through the playoffs...
Stop me when this sounds familiar. For the over 50 crowd, it should be even more familiar. In fact, it must seem like a bit of deja vu. Our own Drjman penned the following comparison back in March.
A team that parallels the current squad in many facets is the 1968-1969 championship squad. This was the last edition of the Bill Russell era dynasty. They finished the regular season with a 48-34 record and were limping through the regular season. This was a team that everyone in the NBA thought was vulnerable and past their prime. Maybe they were but they had experience and heart. The Celtics battled their way to the NBA finals and the stage was set for another showdown with the Lakers.
Something was different this time though. This time around the Lakers were so confident that they were going to knock the Celtics, who had tormented them so much over the years, off that they planned a huge celebration for the conclusion of Game 7. Tommy always references how L.A. had balloons strapped up in the raftersand were poised to drop them as soon as the Lakers finished off the Celtics. The great irony was that the Celtics would those balloons as a sign of disrespect. This fueled the veteran team and motivated them to defeat their rival.
What the rest of the NBA and the Lakers didn't know was that this Celtics team was like a wounded animal, backed into the corner. They knew that this was their last hurrah. Player coach Bill Russell and Sam Jones each were poised to retire at the conclusion of the NBA Finals and were considered a step slower at this point in their career. Sound familiar? Despite being an extremely long in the tooth veteran team, these Celtics came together and percevered all the way to a championship.
Very well said. We could well be seeing another proud champion fighting for one last hurrah.
A word of caution though. The situation was different in the regular season, but the 1987 Celtics also battled injuries and age in the playoffs, only to fall short to one of the best Lakers teams ever to take the floor. Thankfully, it doesn't appear that any of our players is playing on a broken foot like Kevin McHale did that year.
One last bit of history to note: Steve Bulpett makes the case that this team might actually be better than the team from 2008. So far they are having a better post-season at least. Here's hoping they can match the Finals result.