Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Year of the Celtic

May 22, 2007: After a 24-58 season, the Boston Celtics have the second highest odds at the #1 pick in the NBA draft. Watching the lottery at The Rich Man's Matthew Berry's house, we pulled out all the stops. Right as the lottery started, everyone in the room had a finger on a portrait of Boston Celtics legends trying to summon any luck we possibly could. Then, tragedy struck with these words. "The number 5 pick goes to....the Boston Celtics." The entire room screamed "NOOOO", there was even a collective gasp from the television that came from executives who were attending the lottery. There was no possible worse scenario. The media had hyped a Greg Oden/Kevin Durant coming to Boston. Now, no one knew what to do. The Boston Celtics had hit rock bottom.

June 27, 2007: There had been rumors all day about a possible trade bringing Ray Allen to Boston. No one really knew how to react. We didn't have one of the first two picks but, hell, we still had the #5 pick of the draft. Now we are about to trade that pick away along with a versatile player in Delonte West for a 31 year old shooter with paper ankles. The trade goes through and it is possibly the weirdest reaction you could imagine out of the city because there really was none. Everyone was so neutral on the trade, yet, somewhere, Kevin Garnett's ears perked a little bit.

July 31, 2007: Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair. Almost half of an entire team gone along with two first round picks in 2009. All this for one player; Kevin Garnett. Believe it or not, because I really think most people won't even tell you if they did, but a lot of people did not like this deal. We gave up a franchise power forward, a formidable young small forward, two high-potential projects, and two first round picks for one man. Slowly, people started changing their judgment. KG said everything right and did everything right. People started believing in the Boston Celtics once again. They started believing in banner number 17. One month later, James Posey was signed saying he wanted to win another ring. Then, Eddie House was signed saying the same thing. Now it just wasn't Boston thinking of another ring, the NBA was too.

October 4, 2007: The Boston Celtics departed for Rome with only six players from the previous year. Paul Pierce led the way, Rajon Rondo would man the point guard position, and Kendrick Perkins would try and hold down the starting center job. Leon Powe, Tony Allen, and Brian Scalabrine were the only other returners and they would be coming off the bench. The rest, totally new to this historic franchise. Months after the trip, the Celtics looked back and remembered Rome as when they became a true team. The cell phones didn't work, the laptops weren't allowed, it was just the Boston Celtics. 'Ubuntu' would quickly become their motto. An African word meaning unity and an allegiance to others. Other teams would have laughed the motto off, the Celtics embraced it.

November 2, 2007: There's a buzz around Boston. The Celtics begin their regular season at home against the Washington Wizards. Two days before, Wizards star Gilbert Arenas said that the Celtics hadn't played together enough to be considered legit. He thought the rest of the NBA should be offended of how much attention they have gotten. The Celtic's refused to respond with anything other than their play on the court. The Celtics intro gives me goosebumps. Fireworks explode. The crowd is insane. The opening tip off is barely visible through the fog. No one even cares. Final Score: 103-83 Boston. Gilbert Arenas got taunted the entire night. He finished with 21 pts on just 5-20 shooting. Celtics Basketball is back.

December 19, 2007: The Celtics have begun the season better than anyone could have imagined. They are 20-2 coming into a battle with the Detroit Pistons, a team that has been the beasts of the Eastern Conference for the entire decade. With a playoff atmosphere, the Celtics lose a thriller 87-85. The fans exiting the Garden know these two teams will be at war this entire year.

March 17-18, 2008: On back to back nights the Celtics made the number 22 dissapear. The first night ended with a 93-91 win over the San Antonio Spurs, erasing a 22 point deficit with an emphatic win. The next night the Celtics stopped the Houston Rocket's 22 game win streak in its tracks with a lopsided 94-74 win. The Celtics finished 4-1 on their west coast swing.

April 30, 2008: Finishing the season 66-16, the Boston Celtics landed the top seed in the Eastern Conference for the first in in 20 years. On this date, very few expected what they actually saw. A game 7 between the 8th seeded Atlanta Hawks. The Celtics already raised questions about their play on the road as they looked dreadful. Their play at home on the other hand, spectacular. The Celtics walk out of the Garden with a 99-65 drubbing of the Hawks and earn a date with the Cavs in the next round.

May 18, 2008: Here we go again. Game 7. This time against a much more talented team. The Lebron James led Cavaliers push the Celtics to the brink. The Celtics proceed to the next round with a 97-92 hard fought win.

May 20-30, 2008: As Mike Breen put it before game 1, "These were the two teams we expected to be here." A series that featured the two teams refusing to lose more than 1 game in a row, it was looking like it was headed for another game 7. Yet, somehow, someway, the Boston Celtics defeated the Detroit Pistons in game 6, 89-81. The stage was officially set.

As we look forward to the opening of the NBA finals tonight at the Garden, we should also reflect on the past. If you told me one year ago today that the Boston Celtics would be set to meet the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA finals in 2008 I probably would have tried to put you in an insane asylum. The past year has brought us so many joys and memories. This season was worth the agony we Celts fans have gone through the past 15 years or so. Whether it be the completely ridiculous "SCALABRINE" chants at the end of blowouts. Glen Davis erupting for 22 huge points in a win at Detroit. P.J. Brown and Eddie House jumping in a time machine and turning themselves back 10 years before game 7 of the Cavs series. Tony Allen dunking the ball and then celebrating like he was 10 years old and got crossfire for Christmas. Leon Powe never cracking any sign of an emotion even after he just out muscled guys five inches taller than him for a rebound and then putting in an and one. James Posey hugging all five starters before EVERY game this season and alledgedly saying something different to them each time. Kendrick Perkins and his improbable yeo-man first half double-double in game 5 of the Pistons Series. Rajon Rondo snapping both of Steve Nash's ankles before going in for two. And finally the big 3 and all the amazing memories they have given us all year.

It has been a special one. A year that I will never forget as a Celtics fan. Now, as you watch the 2008 NBA finals tip off tonight with "BEAT LA" chants being screamed in the background, remember the year that got us here. Remember the moments that will live on in Celtics history. Let's just hope theres some more great ones to come.


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