The window may have closed on the Celtics Thursday night, but banner #17 is clear as day if you look back through it.
I could talk all day about the options in front of us. Do we keep the core and try to make a ripple in the 2011 playoffs, or do we use what little chips we've got to bring in athletic youth to run with Rondo? Maybe tomorrow I'll down twelve cups of coffee and obsess over the trade machine, but for now, I'm just going to kick back and appreciate what the Celtics have given us during the last three years.
2007/2008 was, well, a banner year! Danny played all his cards and delighted Celtics nation with the new big three. For the first time in years, there was hope. Sure, we still didn't have a proven point guard, but I'll take a promising if unsure Rondo over J.R. Bremer and the rest our recent "point guards" any day. That Doc was able to cast his Ubuntu spell upon this new group and induce such quick gelling was a huge surprise to most. Did anybody really think we would coast to banner #17 in such immediate fashion?
2008/2009 will forever be known as the year that KG's injury supposedly cost us our playoff run. Another year, another year older. End of story.
2009/2010 entered renewed hope with the potentially healthy KG. Sure, we were older, but we had our swagger back, and it fueled us through most of the first half. With a second half marked by sub-par basketball, nagging injuries, and a blatant lack of interest on the part of our Celtics players, it was painful to deal with the mounting losses. I can actually deal with the losses, but when players check out and insist they'll flip the switch in the playoffs, Spurs-style, it's hard to swallow. "Coach Pop does this every year," I tried to convince myself, "They're aging, and they need to conserve energy for the playoffs." But I wasn't sure if I believed it. If they could win any time, why not now? Why make a choice to lose? Is it really that hard to flip the switch? Weren't these competitors? Wasn't the thought of losing painful enough to motivate them? What, are the million dollar salaries not interesting enough? Give me a break.
Come the end of the regular season, when Pierce announced that the Celtics would better defend their home court, I wanted to believe them, but I honestly had my doubts.
After all of the regular season inconsistency, the confidence gained by upping the Heat, Magic, and Cavs (well, maybe just the Magic and the Cavs), and the ultimate letdown at the hands of Black Mamba and his brooding cohorts, I'm here to remind you to please look back through the window at banner #17.
I'm proud of the Celtics. Sure, they gave us an uninspired regular season, but when it mattered most, they fulfilled their promise. They did flip the switch, and they left it on through a thrilling playoff run that nearly exceeded expectations. That's really all you can ask for out of an aging core.
And besides, we already won it the first year the window opened.
Long live Stojko.