For the last time, Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2012 Boston Celtics:
This has to be a new chapter in Celtics lore. Sometimes, I don't even think it's about the championship. Sometimes, it's about the team, and it's about the heart, and it's about everyone that made it happen. We love this team. The 2011-2012 Boston Celtics.
Though acquired mainly to serve as practice bodies, and though we haven't really gotten enough of Sean Williams to even know what he really contributes, props to these guys for being class acts. Especially to Hollins, who even though he could not for the life of him get rebounds, played his heart out, ran every possession for a chance at the easy lob, mixed it up down low at the hopes of offensive rebounds, and agitated the other teams' players. Kudos.
It would be foolish not to remember that JO almost had a breakout game early in the season, against the Cavs, I think. But this guy, even though with all the stupid and misinformed news regarding how he'd like to play the Heat, has been nothing but a professional. Think of it this way: this man willingly degenerated his wrist just so he could help us out, and how many times has he come through with impressive post defense and taking the charge? Many may have forgotten him, but JO did nothing but do his best. Again, think of it this way: the man retired a Celtic.
Jajuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore
The Boston Boilermakers have a good future written all over them, but the team really needs to hold on to them for that to happen. We all remember how E'Twaun was instrumental in that comeback against Orlando, and how at times, he has looked like the only one in the team who can really create his own shot. We want him back, that's for sure. As for JJ, I remember him filling in nicely once Wilcox went down, providing a good spark off the bench with his really athletic blocks and shaky jumper. I say shaky, only because that's how we referred to Avery last year. We know how that story goes.
His early-season loss was one of the most heartbreaking moments in this season. All those years of finding out whether we were finally getting a Posey-type player, a former number 5 pick, off the bench to spell Pierce and possibly look good while doing it, it all came crashing down with the heart ailment. After I was absolutely sure he would prove himself this season. Some of us might not remember, but he was at the receiving end of the post-Perk-trade hate, and he really wanted to prove that he didn't deserve that. It'd be easy to give up. He has been away from the Celtics for about 6 or so months, but still he refers to him as a Celtic, he shows up for games, and this man's heart has just been amazing.
It was supposed to be his first year in the playoffs. After staying in non-winning teams for the most of his career, this was his chance. Yet again, the heart ailment (there is some serious irony in this year's run, ha ha) bug struck the Celtics. To think that was the time he was starting to play well. We all remember how Rondo hit him and JaJuan Johnson up for back-to-back dunks in that Chicago game. He was a high-flyer, and all I was thinking when we got him: man, Rondo is going to have fun. Yet things didn't go his way. But he remains a Celtic.
If you have to name one player who's really loyal to this team, I'd have to put Quis in consideration. After two injuries that were really gruesome to begin with, he keeps coming back, he keeps playing the role of the professional, and he even won us Game 3 against Miami. We'll remember him for the odd layups, the genius cuts to the basket, and that hard-nosed defense. We love his hair as much as his game. Thanks for everything. I still feel happy remembering his thumbs-up.
Known as a 3-point shooter and able defender, Sasha was probably reluctant and hesitant to assert himself in both during the early parts of the season. However, when the team suddenly got marred by injury, not only did he serve as an able bench player, he was part of one of my all-time favorite lineups of this team. The combination of Dooling-Allen-Sasha-Garnett-Stiemsma was one of the key cogs of the winning play of this team after the all-star break. That lineup was killer, and I'm pretty sure Doc remembers how big a player Sasha was during that run.
One of the most underrated additions to this team, we always expected a lot of Mickael in the same way expected things out of Posey. He was a solid defender, he brought the three-ball, and a dash of athleticism as well. However, what will permanently remind me of him as a Celtic is one random regular-season match-up against Philly, him driving to the line and then dunking hard, a few possessions later, doing the same thing, getting hit by a hard foul, and going down to the ground hard, his neck a whiplash, and how the whole Celtics nation fell hard as well. Credit is due to what this man has gone through for us. One year is enough to prove how much heart he has, not just as a role player, but as a true Celtic.
Dooling has been hated on a lot, early in the season, because he probably had +/- of 0 every time he played. He just didn't affect the game no matter what. And all of us wanted Moore to get his playing time. Fast forward to the playoffs, and we know what this guy is about. The backcourt with him and Bradley devastated opposing backcourts, he hit some big shots, and more importantly, you only have to hear how good a teammate he has been to Rajon Rondo. This guy is a real professional. We'll remember him for that funky jumper that suddenly looks so good when we hear it swish through the net.
How good will Greg Stiemsma be as soon as he manages to rehabilitate those foot injuries, huh? It's early to say, but with the right amount of respect from the officials, and a healthy career, we may be looking at one of the most sought-after backup centers in the league sooner rather than later. This guy plays limited minutes, yet he led the team in blocks. It's nice to see that we'll be seeing defense in the future. This guy put on a mean streak of productive games after Blake Griffin punked him on a dunk attempt, and that is exactly what we need him to be. Soon, Greg, soon. The Stiemer's coming after every shot. DA, bring this guy back.
Let me first re-align our expectations from Bass: he was supposed to be a back-up for KG, a reliable one in the mold of Big Baby, one who was known for his really groovy form on his jumper. What we didn't know is that we were getting one of the hardest-working, no-fuss players in the league. Seriously, how exciting was it to see him pump-fake two or three times and then finish with a solid dunk? Big Baby would never have been able to do that (dunk like that, I mean). This guy was automatic from 17feet. And I'm fairly sure he has improved in defense and passing the ball as well. There were lots of time where he was really the one who saved this sinking ship, if only because of his consistency. I was actually rooting for him to stay a bench player after Wilcox came down, thinking that his contributions off the bench would help the C's greatly. But his willingness to play his game and expand it allowed for the KG-to-the-Center event to happen, and we know how that played out.
Also, this needs to be said: this guy never complains. NEVER. You put centers on him, he doesn't complain. Next round he's guarding Shane Battier (a wing, for god's sake) and he doesn't complain. Last night he was guarding one of the most unguardable physical specimens of this generation, and he doesn't complain. This guy is special. I'm thinking he would be back, possibly.
There are so many things I want to say about Bradley. How he transformed from someone who couldn't hit the ocean if he wanted to, to a defensive stopper and reliable athletic guard who CHANGED THE GAME DEFENSIVELY whenever he was in it. Instead, I can be content with these words:
Watch out, Dwyane Wade.
Sometimes, I just want to say that this team has a Big 5, just because of Doc. Of all the times we hated Doc for allowing Pierce ISO's to happen, for running his guys ragged, and for not trusting the rookies, we'll remember more how he called out the Cool Boston Celtics, and how he reassured this team that they had what it takes, and that he, especially believed it. Never stop believing, he said. Don't worry Doc, we haven't. Not once.
Garnett, Rondo, Pierce and Allen:
It just feels wrong to separate one from the other at this point.
Think of this way, guys. How many times have you heard those 4 names together, in or not in that order? Garnett, Rondo, Pierce and Allen. The Boston Celtics. Celtics Pride. The heart and soul of a champion. The go-to-guy. The heart of the defense. The knock-down shooter. The floor general. Ubuntu. I am because we are. Team play over individual success. Professionalism. HEART. Too old, too slow, yet too good. Cavs in 4. Magic in 4. Heat in 5.They're going to get steamrolled. Age is experience. Grind it out. Grit and Balls. Garnett, Rondo, Pierce and Allen. The Big Three has now become The Big Four. Game 7 2010: the Celtics are one win away / from making the most improbable run / in NBA history.
To me, this group of Celtics will forever be one of the best things that have ever happened in professional sports, and though this may be cheesy, and I know this will apply to most of you reading this right now, one of the best things that have happened in my life. This team isn't just about winning. It's about the heart that got us there. Remember Doc saying this: there will come a time, when we're going to face unreal adversity, and that is where the word Ubuntu will come through for us. And in this moment, Ubuntu is not just about the roster, but it's about all of us as well. We love this team.
Thinking back, maybe Shaun Powell was right when he insinuated that we weren't "true basketball fans." There's no way fans would feel and do what we're feeling and doing right now. We're definitely more than that, and this is definitely more than a game. WE ARE CELTICS.
So for all of us, for the team, for the team next year, as we chant endlessly "Let's go Celtics" even in the most devastating of losses, as we go onwards, we have these words of wisdom from a wise man who embodies perfectly the heart of a Celtic:
Be respectful and keep it clean. Thanks.