One of the happiest days of my life was on June 17, 2008, when the Boston Celtics destroyed the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Six of the NBA Finals to win their 17th championship. That day stands alone but both the years leading up to that feeling of being on top of the world and the years traveling back down have been special, too.
Paul Pierce is gone; so is Kevin Garnett. An amazing era of Boston Celtics basketball is over but that doesn't mean that the coming years will be forgettable. I believe that there is something special about the process of building a franchise back up.
There have been a lot of comments made by Celtics fans around the Internet saying things like "I'm not going to be able to root for the C's after this trade," or "Danny Ainge should be fired immediately for what he has done to this franchise."
Whether or not you support the trade with the Brooklyn Nets, you have to try to stick with the process. It's disappointing that Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnet, and Ray Allen couldn't have ended their careers by winning Banner 18, but not every player's career can end like Ray Lewis' did with the Baltimore Ravens. Everything Danny Ainge is doing is an important part of the process to put together a championship contending team just like he did in 2007.
I think it's a pleasure to watch the development of a franchise. Yes, there are hard times -- like in 2006 when the Boston Celtics lost 18-games in a row -- or in 2005 when Paul Pierce wrapped his jaw in a bandage after losing in the playoffs -- or when the C's lost out on Tim Duncan in the 1997 draft lottery -- or even when Larry Bird retired because of back trouble in 1992.
Yet these moments in time are still important. They are no different than happy memories like the day KG was acquired or the night he cried and screamed, "anything is possible!!!" All of these moments come together like words on a page to create chapters in the timeless book of Boston Celtics history. Every single one of these moments -- happy or sad -- have a time and place in that specific chapter of history between Banner 16 in 1986 and Banner 17 in 2008.
One reason I like Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens so much is because his coaching philosophy is really just a basic philosophy of life that I follow. Stevens says, "We emphasize the process and the process of growth a lot more than the result. We do think the results take care of themselves if you emphasize growth and if you emphasize getting better every single day."
In other words, instead of stressing so much about specific goals work hard at your craft and eventually you'll be able in a position to accomplish any challenges that come your way.
Just think about how simple that is. Both you and I know that not every moment in your life will be a joyful one. But you deal with it and that makes the marvelous moments that much better, yes? For me, it's about living in the moment and enjoying what comes my way -- but I wasn't always like this.
I used to do something Brad Stevens doesn't preach and that was set goals for myself. I started playing guitar in January of 2007 and set the goal of being able to play Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd. To me, that was the like climbing Mount Everest...or raising the Larry O'Brien Trophy...or finally beating an extremely difficult video game.
Anyway, six years later I can play that song quite well, but I don't feel like I have "achieved my goal." All I really did was practice and overtime the results came. At the beginning stages of playing guitar I don't think I enjoyed it as much as I should have. I was in such a rush to "get good" instead of basking in the beauty of learning something new.
That all changed on February 3, 2008, when the undefeated New England Patriots lost to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII. I was crushed. Depressed. The 16-0 regular season and playoff run was one of the greatest rides of my life but the loss in the Super Bowl ruined it all for me.
Months after the defeat, when my wounds began to scab over, I asked myself, "why can't I look back at the journey and smile about it?" I decided to attempt to make a change in my life by doing everything in my power to stay in the moment and enjoy everything that came my way; like Brad Stevens says, I try not to stress so much about the final result.
Two years later I was tested when Boston Celtics lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals; I passed. That night was a lot easier for me to handle because I made sure to appreciate every single moment leading up to that hard defeat. The same goes for the C's 2012 Eastern Conference loss to the Miami Heat. The losses are still hard but for valuing the journey as much as the end result, the lost almost becomes a little hiccup amongst many, many unbelievable memories.
Like Brad Stevens says, "Be sure to care about the work and do everything you can to promote character, pay attention to details, expect great performance and let the results take care of themselves."
This applies to sports and how you watch or play it just as much as it does to your life and how you live it. After all, sports are a part of life, and a paramount part of it for many of us.
To any Celtics fans who say they won't be able to watch the next group of years before they are contenders: Wait! Don't walk out that door just yet. Stay around. Sit down and get comfortable. There might be some low moments but if you see through those phases and continue to enjoy the many positive stages to come, it will be much more satisfying when the Boston Celtics someday reach the pinnacle of success and raise Banner 18 to the rafters.
Trust me. Go Celtics, always.