A Daily Babble Production
Blood. Sweat. Tears. On top of the world.
It's five past two in the morning, and I'm chugging up my stairs to first begin writing this piece. It should have been two o'clock on the nose, but a funny thing happened as I got ready to turn off my television and head up the stairs: SportsCenter led with highlights of Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals, and I found myself rooted to the spot.
Sure, it makes some sense that I wanted to watch some highlights of our beloved basketball team's first championship in 22 years. But it's also worth remembering that -- like so many of you, I'm sure -- I had watched every second of the game, the press conferences and several sets of highlights already. In fact, no more than an hour ago, I had already watched the exact same set of highlights with verbatim commentary from Stu Scott, Michael Wilbon and Jon Barry.
But I couldn't resist the opportunity to watch the 2007-08 Boston Celtics play their last game just once more. Because this team has made it clear that it is one to hold close for a long time to come.
At the risk of committing some form of cliche abuse, there are few guarantees in sports.
There is an off-season ahead of us and then another season, and what will happen in that time (and beyond) is anybody's guess. From transactions to injuries to the draft to the other 29 teams in the league to any number of other unforeseen circumstances, there's no telling what we'll see next year from the Celtics, but it's highly likely that they will be differently constructed in at least some regard. Given that it's hard to have a year too much better than this one has been, these aren't entirely comforting thoughts -- although that by no means rules out the prospect of ultimate success next year.
But this isn't a time for thoughts that aren't entirely comforting -- no, not in the least -- so here's one that is, and it is in fact a guarantee: No matter what the future holds, we will always have these 2007-08 NBA Champion Boston Celtics to hold in our hearts.
Which means that, among quite a few other things...
We will always have this feeling. The one that can't adequately be conveyed with words. It's that one of the ultimate fan happiness that seems to be best expressed by some combination of waving rally towels, screaming at the top of our lungs (even if we're sitting in our own living rooms), hugging those around us, making silly victory poses in the mirror or commencing any number of similarly related activities. This feeling of being on top of the top, that our boys finally got us to the promised land, that nobody can take that away. Not the media. Not past or future seasons. Not the officials. Not the opponents. Not the naysayers. No one. That this is real.
We'll always have the memories of the culture change Kevin Garnett infused into this town. The images of the guts, leadership, growth and clutch play that 2008 NBA Finals MVP -- the captain aaaaaaaaaand The Truth -- Paul Pierce demonstrated all year long in the best season of his career, regardless of what the individual statistics say. The poise of Ray Allen and his record 22 made three-pointers in the NBA Finals, including his 7-of-9 performance in the clinching game.
We'll always have Rajon Rondo's amazing progress in his sophomore season in the league as well as Raj's six steals in the game that won our boys the title.
It will be impossible to forget the image of the oft-doubted Kendrick Perkins (note to self: guilty on that account) clutching the Larry O'Brien trophy as the starting center on a title team. Or the resilience Perk showed in pushing himself back into the lineup for Game 6 on a strained shoulder.
No matter what happens in free agency this summer, for all the intensity on this team, we'll always smile ruefully when we think of the man who would kill his own mother for a loose ball: Big Game James Posey. Rugged defense, a mean streak, an uncanny coolness under pressure, timely three-pointers, a deceptively quick step to the basket, the best shot selection on the team, the best hugs of all time: This guy is a winner, and he captured the hearts of Celtics fans all over the place this season with his gritty play. And while I'm just kidding about the "killing his own mother" part, there isn't much else this man is stopping at to get his hands on every 50-50 ball. What a joy to watch.
We'll always remember "Too Much!" Eddie House hitting the shot to put the green ahead for the first time after a 24-point comeback in Game 4 of the Finals. His general exuberance, his instant offense, his remarkable ability to be ready on command despite having his minutes jerked around in the playoffs and his unique nature that could only be described as "Being Eddie House" surely aren't far behind.
Leon Powe's performance in Game 2 of the Finals. P.J. Brown playing in more postseason than regular season games and giving the Celts a major boost in several of them. Sam Cassell's scrappiness in first two games of the Cleveland series. Tony Allen's pleasantly under-control play and absurdly good plus-minus in the Finals -- and how 'bout that reverse dunk on the alley-oop in Game 6? The Infuriated Infant's awful-looking mohawk, his six minutes of energy and great defensive rotation in Game 3 against the Pistons, the job he did on Tim Duncan in Boston earlier this season -- even though it isn't reflected in the box score -- and, yes, pictures like this one, as recommended by fellow writer and late-night chatting pal CelticBalla32.
Scot Pollard's good humor. Brian Scalabrine's willingness to put the team first and foremost at all times despite his removal from the active rotation due to late-season acquisitions. Gabe Pruitt's ability (as noted by The Guru when we saw him shooting around before a January game in Jersey) to be one of the few NBA players (if he isn't the only one) who don't habitually walk whenever they catch and shoot.
Tom Thibodeau's genius goes down in the lore, too.
We won't forget the masterful job of architecture Danny Ainge did with this team. The "Fire Danny" days are a distant memory. The 'Ainge as Executive of the Year' days will be remembered forever.
We'll always remember where we were, who were with and how we rejoiced when a new reign officially dawned. For my part, I'll remember Mom's impeccable plus-minus willing the Celtics to victory once more, and I'll never forget spending the time immediately after the game collaborating with The Guru on officially breaking the record for "most James Posey hugs exchanged between two people over the course of an hour." There was no shortage of rally-towel waving and sharing of gigantic smiles either. Just glorious. What were you doing?
[Aside: While we're on the subject, huge thanks to my wonderful long-time next door neighbors Debbie and Barry for allowing me into their home (initially sans their presence) on inordinately short notice to use their HDTV for the first half (and eat the Napoleon in the fridge) when my cable connection decided to inexplicably black out every channel but CBS, NBC and whatever Ch. 18 might happen to be -- half an hour before game time. I should have known James Dolan would somehow throw a monkey wrench into my season.]
We'll never forget the final image of that set of highlights I watched at two in the morning (a distant two and a half hours ago by now): Soon-to-be-crowned 2008 NBA Finals MVP Paul Pierce dousing NBA championship-winning head coach Glenn "Doc" Rivers with a cooler of gatorade. And all the smiles title-winning coach Doc Rivers kept flashing thereafter.
Speaking of Doc, there is no doubt be a special place in our hearts for Ubuntu.
Finally, we will forever hear the echo of that roar from the New Garden crowd when Wyc Grousbeck held up the Larry OBrien trophy to the green faithful.
The Boston Celtics are the 2008 NBA champs, and they're our champs to hold on to together now and forevemore. So let the outpouring of happy recollections begin and last indefinitely.
It's a beautiful day to be green.