Wednesday, June 18, 2008
I was just born when they won the one above, which was the first.
Now these folks - who last night earned the right to be called "The Big Three" - get to add number 17 to the collection.
The Boston Celtics won championship number seventeen last night, destroying the Los Angeles Lakers, 131 - 92. It was a beating of epic proportion.
For those of you whose first love isn't basketball, let me see if I can put it into terms you can more readily understand.
If it had been a hockey game, it would be your team getting off 67 shots en route to a 9 -1 victory.
In baseball, it would be a 19 - 4 drubbing.
Football? 46 - 10.
Tennis? Straight sets, 6 - 2, 6 - 0, 6 - 0.
Boxing? A knockout in the 4th round.
Soccer? 5 - nil.
It was the most complete embarrassment of an opponent, in the deciding game of The Finals, in the history of the NBA. It was the largest margin of victory ever in the final game of the final series. It was absolutely, completely, utterly over with more than half of the third quarter still to be played.
It was my joy.
The Celtics played 48 minutes of lockdown defense. And I do mean 48 minutes, even though they only needed about 30 of those minutes to win the title. The entire season, encapsulated in one moment, came with less than three minutes to play. The Celtics were leading by 40 or 41 points, and Leon Powe tried to get an offensive foul called on some hapless Laker. He put his body in harm's way, standing his ground and taking the charge, knocked to the floor by the Laker. It was called a block on Powe, but no matter. Any other team in the NBA wouldn't have had a player do that. The player would have sidestepped the man with the ball, giving him a clear path to the basket, saving his body for the celebration. Not Powe, and not the Celtics. They truly don't know any other way to play except the right way.
As you no doubt can imagine, I could go on for some 48 paragraphs, one for every minute of this most satisfying of victories. I won't, though, so be thankful to your God. I'll just mention one other moment that I thought was the embodiment of why this team won so convincingly and unselfishly.
Many past Celtics were in attendance, all of them winners of multiple championships. John Havlicek was there. Jo Jo White. Cedric Maxwell. Tommy Heinsohn. And the greatest Celtic of them all, Bill Russell, the winner of 11 championships, sat courtside. Earlier in the season, Russell sat down with Kevin Garnett for a conversation taped by ABC. It was heartwarming and wonderful. Russell told Garnett that he thought Garnett would probably end up with two or three championships before his time was done in Boston. Russell added that he admired the style of Garnett's play so much, that if he (Garnett) didn't win a ring of his own, Russell would give him one of his. Coming from a man whom he probably admires more than any other past Celtic (possibly more than any other past player, period) Garnett was visibly, touchingly moved.
While the Celtics were celebrating on the court immediately after the victory, the cameras caught Kevin Garnett giving Bill Russell a big bear hug. Garnett, close to tears, said to Russell, "Did I make you proud? Did I make you proud?" Russell said, "Yes, you did." Garnett embraced Russell even harder, leaned in close to his ear, and said, "I got one of my own. I got one of my own."
I bet I wasn't the only person in Boston who got misty.
Final result of our contest: The Celtics scored 1162 total points. The winner of the 10 (crummy) CDs is Dave (NOT my cousin, who had his chances wrecked by the outrageously high scoring in this final game.) So, Dave, whoever you are, I hope you're reading this. Send me your mailing address, at firstname.lastname@example.org , and I'll get the 10 (crummy) CDs out to you immediately.
(Should Dave not reply within a reasonable length of time, I will come up with some other way to decide who gets saddled with these wonderful examples of music gone wrong.)
They did it! Party on, Boston! Banner seventeen is coming soon to a Garden near you!
Addendum: Just came upon this. Gigantic man-tears moment for me. I'm not kidding.
Soon, with more better stuff.