Does anyone here watch sports movies? Even if they can sometimes be cheesy, I love them. They're always about a person, or a team, who has the deck stacked against them but somehow find a way to beat the odds and triumph. The thing is, the "triumph" isn't always winning a championship...sometimes it's just about going further than anyone ever thought you would go and proving to yourself that you can do it. With that last statement I'm reminded especially of movies like Major League, where the team gets to the playoffs but (as we find out in the sequel) gets dusted once they're there. Or even more aptly, like both the first and the last Rocky movies (whatever number it was), where Rocky is actually shown to LOSE the big fight in the end but everyone still goes home feeling like he was a winner.
As I've watched the year 2012 play out for these Celtics, I can't help but feel like they are the epitome of a sports movie plot that's just dying to be written. In fact, with this offseason, it looks like we're well on our way to a sequel. Here's one man's thoughts about what that sports movie would look like:
Title: The Three Year Plan
Opening scene: flashback to 2007-08 in a montage. Start by showing the 16 banners hanging in 2007, then flash to some of the worst points of 2007 (headline of Celtics setting longest losing streak ever, Pierce looking dejected, losing the draft lottery to miss out on Oden and Durant) followed by the press conference when KG and Ray are introduced, some highlights of the 07-08 season, capped with Finals highlights (Pierce's wheelchair/3s in game 1, Ray shaking Sasha to cap the game 4 comeback, KG's crazy hanging bank shot in game 6) and the championship celebration (Ray spraying champaign, Pierce holding up the Finals MVP and screaming, and KG yelling "Anything is possibbllleeeeeeeee" in the background as they show KG and Russell hug).
Fade out, flash to the title in big green letters: "The Three Year Plan". Then, in smaller letters below, "Year 5". Followed by a black screen
Part 1 (opening was more prelude): "Four years later" pops up on the screen, followed by a scene that combines a running commentary of the Lockout with what the Big Three are up to in late November of 2011. Let's start the scene with KG by himself in a weight room, doing nautillus leg extensions on his bad leg and grimacing, trembling as he tries to gut out just a few more reps. The voice in the background narrates that the players and owners can't agree, and the players have been locked out. As KG finishes one rep, it flashes to Ray shooting 3s in an empty gym while talk of the lockout continues. Flash back to KG shaking with exertion as he struggles through another leg extension. Flash to Pierce and KG in suits at the lockout negotiation, then back to KG shaking and screaming with pain as he pushes out one more rep. When he finishes, he limps across the floor and picks up his water bottle, and looks at the muted TV that says "Lockout ending?" with a video of Derek Fisher talking. The phone rings, and it's Pierce. "Ticket. Fish caved...looks like we playing ball this year after all." Pierce and KG have an entire conversation about how hard it is to get back in NBA physical/mental shape after all that's happened. Flashbacks of KG going down against Utah, heartbreak in game 7 in LA, and having to watch LeBron and Wade celebrate. Have one heated exchange where Pierce says they would have won 3 titles if not for KG's knee, because that knee kept him out in 2009 and limited him so much in 2010 that they couldn't quite get there...but KG returns that he can't live life in the "what if", because if he did he would go crazy...that the biggest "what if" would have been if the Celtics took KG in '95 and he and Pierce would have had a whole career together..."we'd already have more rings than Legend and Chief, and knocking on the door to Mr. Russell and Mr. Havlicek...I can't think like that, P, or I'd lose my mind. Feel me?" At the end of the conversation KG prepares to go back and work out some more, but in foreshadowing of his future post-basketball, his daughter and wife come into the room and get him to go do family things instead of continuing to workout.
Part 2: The Celtics come out the blocks like garbage. Pierce is hurt. KG looks like he's running in mud. Rondo is the flashy new star, but he's in trade rumors daily and his already abrasive personality just gets that much harder to deal with as the chip on his shoulder gets bigger. Only Ray looks good, as his professional stroke just keeps getting better from downtown. And on all of the media outlets, the Celtics are just getting trashed. "This is what happens when you get to year 5 of a Three Year Plan"..."Too old"..."broken down"..."Garnett misses All Star team for first time since 1996"..."Celtics blown out by Thunder to fall 2 games under .500 at the All Star Break".
Part 3: This is the transition point in the movie. Up to this point it's been all about the faded glory of the past and how the present doesn't measure up. This scene starts, however, with KG going nuts on the team in the publicized All Star Break meeting in which he implores the team to do better. He's ranting and raving...you know, being KG. But when he gets done, he goes over and shoves Rondo in the chest and screams at him...and instead of petulance, when Rondo looks up you see fire in his eyes. KG then turns and screams something with a lot of expletives and "Truth!!!" in there somewhere, and crazy eyed stares at Pierce until Pierce starts nodding his head like he does in the 4th when he's feeling it. Pierce then turns and looks at Ray, who gives the quiet confident Ray smirk and holds up 3 fingers. Pierce nods his head one last time, stands up and shouts "Celtics!" and KG looks at him and yells "Oohra!". Pierce yells "Celtics!", and this time KG/Rondo/Allen all yell "Oohra!". By now Pierce is jumping up and down and the team is gathering around, "Celtics!!!!!" and everyone yells "Oohra!". They all put their hands up and together in a circle and Pierce screams, "1. 2. 3." and everyone else yells "Ubuntu!". And it's on.
The next sequence is all about the Celtics finishing the season strong. They go on a win streak over good teams. They blow out Miami. We hear the announcer in the background pointing out things like Pierce winning Player of the Month, KG's huge stats resurgence after moving to center, and Rondo's assists streak. The only thing that doesn't look rosy is one brief scene where they show Rondo not pass the ball to Ray and they give each other icy stares (foreshadowing), but other than that's it's all gravy as the Celtics surge from below .500 up to winning the division.
Part 4: The playoffs. It all plays out exactly like we just saw it. The hard fought win over the Hawks, complete with Rondo's suspension, Ray trying to play through terrible ankles, Pierce injuring his knee, and KG going nuts in game 6 and on the Hawks' owner aftewards. Next up the scrappy 76ers, and how they eeked out the 7-game series. And then finally the match-up with Goliath...the Miami Heat. Like Apollo Creed in Rocky, the Heat have been built up through the movie as the undefeatable juggernaut. They're everything now that the Celtics used to be...young, in their primes, with the best player in the world on his manifest destiny to a ring. They're the team that put the Celtics out a year earlier. Set the stage with a Stephen A Smith interview in which he predicts the Celtics won't even be a speed bump to the Heat.
And then, play out the series.
Back-and-forth, forth-and-back. Avery Bradley's done. Allen starting on one leg. Pierce game, but just can't do anything with LeBron. KG dominating the paint with Bosh out. Rondo throwing in triple-doubles. The heartbreaking game 2 loss. KG's knuckle push-ups gets everyone nuts, and they win the next 2. The huge win in game 5. LeBron goes serial killer in game 6. Set the stage before game 7 with the Celtics just out of gas. Show the training room where KG, Pierce and Ray are all being put together with tape, looking like prize fighters in the 12th round of a brutal fight, as they motivate themselves to give it all they've got one last time. They do. They're battling. They're controlling the game for stretches. They enter the 4th quarter tied. And...the Heat are just too much. Like Apollo in Rocky 1 (or, more appropriately, Antonio Tarver in the last Rocky), the younger Heat are just too good and overcome our hero in the end.
The Celtics lose the decision. But everyone, EVERYONE knows that they left it all out there. And they've come SO FAR beyond what they were supposed to be able to do. Despite losing, the Celtics leave the court this last time as true champions in the eyes of all that watched. It's bittersweet, but everyone knows that they did their team proud with this last run. The last scene shows Pierce and Doc graciously congratulating the Heat, while (in more foreshadowing) Ray seems to be openly courting every member of the Heat that he can get to. Rondo and KG are shown heading to the locker room, and they end up walking side by side, the past and present leader with the future one, and KG puts his hand on the top of Rondo's head as they get to the locker room. Flash to the headline from Celticsblog, "The End." Roll credits.
Hidden Scene. After the credits roll, the screen lightens back up again and once again you see Garnett in the gym by himself, struggling through leg extensions on that balky knee. As he's doing them, you hear a talking head talking about how it was finally, officially time for the Big Three Era in Boston to end. You hear Sam Cassell say that KG had been planning to retire and everyone knew it, that he was trying to talk him out of it but he didn't know if it would work. Camera pans out as KG is lifting, and you see that as he's doing the leg extensions he's watching on TV as the Heat celebrate their championship. LeBron is smiling, Bosh is...um...pouring champagne on himself. They're having parades, doing all the talk shows. Talking heads are calling LeBron the best player since Jordan. Garnett finishes his last, painful rep, and limps over to turn off the TV with his back to the camera. The phone rings. He picks it up, and the caller ID says "Pierce, Paul". KG brings the phone to his ear, and you hear Pierce's voice saying "Ticket...man...you seeing all of this crap?" KG doesn't answer for a moment, as the camera pans around to the front of him and shows his face. He's looking down, with the phone to his ear.
Suddenly, KG looks up with that fire in his eyes that only he has. And says, "F___ it, P. Let's do it again."
Fade to black.
(Be sure to tune in for the sequel next year, that starts off with one of the members of the Big Three betraying them to play with the enemy, the young superstar Rondo hanging out with 50 Cent as a member of "The Money Team", and KG and Truth trying to mold together a motley crew of new young guys, returning injured players, and the newly brought on "Heat Killer" Jason Terry into a new UBUNTU unit to make one more run at #18...)