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The Victory Lap: Appreciating The Celtics Last Run

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Fast forward 10 years, my son is 11 years old and watching veteran guard Austin Rivers play. I turn to him and say, "You know who his dad is right? Doc Rivers, now an analyst for ESPN3D, used to be the coach of the Celtics. That was the team that won the 17th Championship Banner and they were one of the best defensive teams in the modern era and I got to watch them play."

There are a number of different ways you can react to the trade deadline inactivity. Some will bemoan the missed opportunity to blow it all up since "this team has no chance of competing." Others will complain that we didn't go out and pick up some needed help to push this team over the hump. By now you know that I won't tell you that either opinion is wrong. They are opinions after all. All I can tell you is how I feel, and like Semisonic, I'm feeling strangely fine.

You see, I got to enjoy this run from start to finish. Obviously I've been following the team since the 80's and I'll follow them to my grave, but this run was very special. The 20 years of frustration after the original Big 3 made this that much sweeter.

Watching Paul Pierce grow from a talented young man into a leader and champion is something I'll cherish all my days. He's now the model in my mind for why you sometimes have to be patient with talented but frustrating players. He's the success story and he's why I'll be more patient with Rajon Rondo and the next generation of future-star Celtics.

This team has taught me so much about what real, Championship level defense looks like. They've displayed a level of teamwork and no-holds-barred brotherhood that is refreshing to witness. They only won one banner, but they always went down swinging.

Right now, I'm not sure if the Celtics are legit contenders or not. but I'll never fully count this team out after what I saw in 2010. I also know that this team is sort of bi-polar from night to night. They absolutely could walk in and destroy the Bulls and Heat on any given night and follow it up with losses to the Kings and Bobcats. That's what they are right now.

This is a town where we celebrate championships and that's it. There's no room in the rafters for division and conference championship banners. There's certainly no patience with first and 2nd round bow outs. I totally get the mentality of "if we're going to go through rebuilding, we might as well start it sooner to get it over with."

With that said, my only advice is to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. They no longer have the option of blowing this team up till the summer. There's nothing more to do about that. What you can do, however, is soak this in. (Ok, maybe delete the Kings game and similar stinkers from the DVR before watching) This might very well be the last time you get to see this group all together. Perkins is already gone, Ray and KG might be next and Pierce won't be here forever.

Enjoy the snarl on KG's face as he sizes up a green rookie big man. Admire the hesitation and slow motion drives that make Pierce one of the hardest guys in the league to guard. Bask in the beauty of the effortlessness of Ray Allen's 3 pointers.

Now I'll be the first to admit, the rest of this regular season might be ugly at times. This road trip is already proving taxing and might get worse before it gets better. But they'll make the playoffs and they might even get a nice middle seed. And once those playoffs start, ...well, as they say - throw out the records, it's a whole new ballgame. Nobody, nobody wants to face this Celtics team in the early rounds.

I don't know if we have the firepower and endurance to beat both the Heat and the Bulls in two 7 game series. But I wouldn't bet against us taking one of them down. Then, ...who knows? Stranger things...

The end of this era is coming fast but the final chapter hasn't been written yet. The rebuilding will start soon enough. I'm in no hurry.

See now son, don't get too upset about being down 20 points at halftime. There was this guy Paul Pierce who used to make a habit out of bringing his team all the way back from huge deficits to win the game. He even did it in the Finals one year. Don't ever give up hope. It might not turn out the way you want it to, but you just never know.