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A Sentimental Reflection About The 2010 Celtics

June 19, 2010

Ummmm. Yeah. We can still have fun at his expense.

Ummmm. Yeah. We can still have fun at his expense.

It’s too bad.
With about 8 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter, Rondo started on an epic drive to the hoop, shredding the Lakers defenders, leaping toward the hoop, and sinking a layup that put his Celtics up 49-36. A 13 point lead. In game 7. Of the NBA Finals.

I started to give the “I am really uneasy about this game but oh my god it really could happen but I am still really unsettled” type of look to the people around me. My buddy Sean had the exact look on his face.

I guess there was a reason for that we both had this look.

But I defaulted to doing what I hate doing: romanticizing about how this game was going to end before it was even over. With still almost 20 minutes left to play, just under half the game, I was thinking about how poetically just it would be for Kobe Bryant to win the NBA Finals MVP while the Celtics hoisted up the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Kobe Bryant could then join Jerry West as the only other Finals MVP that was not on the winning team (1969 against none other than the Boston Celtics). How fitting would it be that one of the most self-indulgent and selfish players to ever play the game be marked as the single best player in a series but fall on the losing end of things? And that the only two people to be in this company would be the former General Manager of the Lakers that drafted his high school hot shot and years later would proclaim him as the best shooting guard of all time? Better than The Logo himself? Better than the cold-blooded assassin in a Bulls uniform? And finally, that Kobe could join Jerry West in saying, “I never beat the Celtics in the Finals.”

But as much as it pains me that this revisionist ending was not a reality, one where Kobe plays the fool, it pains me even more to see this Celtics team lose by 4 points after holding a 13 point lead in a game 7 in the Finals against the Lakers. I wanted this team of scrappy vets to win. I wanted professional basketball to reward guts and glory of a team instead of flashes of brilliance from a couple of individuals. I wanted a coach that has endured so much criticism for the way his management style played out this season to reap the benefits of trusting his instincts. I wanted the players to collapse on the court of their rivals knowing that they just won their second title in three years because they made a commitment to defense and playing team ball. The Celtics epitomize unselfish basketball through their help defense (ie, not throwing teammates under the bus) and they always make the extra pass to get a better look and defer to get other guys going– almost to a fault. This team deserve to win because of their character just as much as the Lakers deserved to win because they were simply the more skilled team.

No dice.

No dice.

As I said in my last post, I don’t recall in recent memory when a team up 3-2 in a 7 game series went into the decisive seventh game as an underdog. The Celtics were a mere 4 points away from stealing the Finals away from Kobe, Phil, and the Lakers. Really, the Celtics were a crazy three away made by an even crazier person (Ron Artest: Queensbridge!) from taking the title from under them. It could have been such a classic punchline for so many teams in the future: “Remember the 2010 Celtics? The old veterans that grinded through the regular season, then just gutted out the playoffs to steal the title from the Lakers?” The 2010 Celtics could have been used as the inspiring example for so many other older teams in sports. We could have been the latest fad in sports cliche.

Say what you want about the 2010 Celtics, America. Truly: fire away. Make the jokes. Criticize all you want. But if you put 4 guys over the age of 32 in the starting lineup (Sheed 35, Ray 34, KG 34, Pierce 32) and asked a coach to manage all of these strong (STRONG) personalities and get them to a game 7 in the Finals against the best team in the league (hands-down), how many of you would bet on that even happening?

No one else but these vets and Doc (and Danny) could have pulled this off. And the determination that this team had to play together and get to the finals is the only sports cliche I need. There is a punch-line to the story of the 2010 Celtics: it makes me proud to be a fan of this team.

  • I am proud that the starters on this team kept the same game plan all year despite everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) asking, actually demanding, that definitive changes be made. Start this person instead. Shift the offensive focus. Trade this guy. No. Doc liked this team, and he liked his plan all year. Play cut-throat defense, move the ball for the best look on offense. Stay with the guys that he trusted.
  • I am proud that this team went far and beyond all expectations for how this season would end.
  • I am proud that when their backs were against the wall during the playoffs, the Celtics came through on every occasion… except this last one. The tank was simply on empty.
  • I am proud that no one can really say that the Celtics didn’t bring it in game 7. They brought it, it just wasn’t enough.
  • I am proud that the face of our franchise isn’t a d*ckhead. (or a rapist)
  • I am proud that our coach isn’t a conniving, passive aggressive, fat piece of blubber.
  • I am proud that our general manager stuck with this team because he believed in them. If he had lost even an ounce of doubt, then you know Danny would have dealt Ray’s coveted expiring contract and other pieces. But he didn’t. And luckily, he didn’t.
  • I am proud that Doc Rivers was our coach in 2010.

And that’s it.

I think about what my celebratory dance would have been like if the Celts had one. With plenty of folks watching the game with me, I think about how jubilant of a time it could have been. There would have been a certain momentous high from watching the trophy being handed over to the Celtics front office and players. But, such is life.

I snuck outside, late in the evening after the game, and just sat there on a deck overlooking floating boats along the water. I was in one of the prettiest places on a calm night, and sent a text to some friends that weren’t there with me: “Shit.”

Did you think something philosophically conclusive was coming your way? Or even some kind of prophetic dose of optimism for the future?

No. Just raw, organic emotion: shit.

As the off-season begins, I will be posting here and there about rumors, signings, trades, etc. But really, the undertones of everything I write will be rooted in one subtle question: will the Celtics stay relevant next year and beyond?

Only time will tell.
Thank you, 2010 Celtics.

Yes, yes you are.

Yes, yes you are.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. Celtsfan33 permalink
    June 19, 2010 5:05 pm

    Very well said, my man. I couldn’t of said it better myself.

    I’ll share my experience here. During that same point, when Rondo hit the layup to put us up 13 in the 3rd quarter – I actually caught myself with with tears in my eyes. I had both of my boys sleeping on the couch next to me – both invested into the Celtics as much as I was when I was a kid – and I started to think about waking them up for the final minutes of the game so we could share in the celebration. But I had the same nervous feeling – the feeling that it could slip away and I wouldn’t get that opportunity. When the game was finally over, I sat on my couch – and let it all start to sink in. Ironically, I did the same thing as you. I sent a text to a close friend who would understand my pain: “SHIT”.

    Crazy stuff!

    Kyle

    • June 19, 2010 5:27 pm

      Kyle–

      That is crazy that you sent the same text… But what better single word wraps up the game, the series, and the season other than Shit?
      How great would it have been if you could have woken your boys up for the final minutes? This is when fans are made… watching close games as a kid, but not realizing how special it is until you are much older. Either way, your boys will hopefully grow up to be resilient fans!!

      Thanks for reading all season, Kyle. You are truly one of the best fans out there.

      • Celtsfan33 permalink
        June 19, 2010 6:20 pm

        Thank you – I really appreciate that. It’s funny to think back to this season and the effort we put into being fans of this team. It’s always worth it – because of the memories and the bond created between family, friends and other fans. I know we’ll get another chance to celebrate a championship – we’re fortunate to be fans of team with a rich history – we’ll be back!

        As I’ve told you before – great work with the Loscy blog – looking forward to next season.

        Kyle

        • June 19, 2010 8:12 pm

          It’s been a fun season to blog about. In the next few days, I am going to re-post some older pieces that should make us all look back on this season with even more fondness.

          Keep checking in!

  2. June 19, 2010 6:11 pm

    Thanks for all your great posts throughout the playoffs.

    I don’t remember a team losing the Finals before that was so deserving of a championship. As a neutral fan, I will remember the Celtics 2010 playoff run more so than the Lakers. What they did was incredible and Celtics fans should be proud.

    I still don’t know how the Lakers won that game. I really don’t.

    • June 19, 2010 8:13 pm

      Thank you for always reading. You guys run such a good blog over at NBAmate.com, so it’s good when we can collaborate when possible. How did the Lakers win? VooDoo magic…

  3. Scott McCullough permalink
    June 19, 2010 10:49 pm

    Going into the 4th quarter I thought we had a pretty good chance to win. I was going to live the dream. Me and my buddies who missed the Celebration parade in 2008 were going to get to experience that missed moment. Right there on the cusp of victory it was like I had just won the lottery only to have someone rip up the check right in front of me for millions of doallars. In the Final seconds when I knew “the balls were not falling our way” similar to the Celtics trouble in Draft Lottery’s past, all I could do was sulk. I was experiencing a wide range of emotions. I felt let down. I felt sick, disgusted and most of all angry. I felt as if someone had played a cruel joke on me. This was going to be a big summer event for myself and my friends. We’d planned this trip months ago. We believed in this team. People keep telling me there’s always next year, but unless changes are made to retool now. This is a dream that I will unfortunately not be able to experience. I want to thank Wyc Grousbeck, Danny Ainge, Doc and all management for taking this team to where not many thought we could go. Rajon Rondo, the future Celtics captain thanks for being everything I could ever hope to envision in a PG. While you may not have the name recognition, yet you will in the next several years and I believe in YOU, MAN. Keep your head up, kid you gave us your all. KG, thanks for coming back from a devastating injury and helping lead us to the promised land. I know your/our goal wasn’t accomplished, but YOU ARE THE MAN. EVERY CELTICS FAN worldwide feels your pain. I’m shedding tears as I write this. Stay strong and believe in yourself. Recruit Bosh & D-Wade to come here. We could win a couple of more rings. SHEED, If that is your final game and I believe it is thank you for your efforts. Especially, the efforts in Game 7. PERK, I don’t believe there’s anyone in the world who understands what you’re feeling or going through right now. I wish you luck in your recovery and thanks for always giving CELTIC NATION your best efforts on and off the court. A speedy recovery Kendrick, you’re in my prayers. RAY ALLEN, I know many will finger you as the goat this series, but including the playoffs over the last few years you’ve hit so many big shots for us. The shots were just not falling. You played some great D on Kobe and your place in the Hall is waiting. Should the team choose not to keep you or you choose to leave I understand. You’ve been a great Celtic Ray, I hope to see you suit up for the Green & White again. PAUL PIERCE, the captain. Among my fav CELTICS ever. For the first time, I can say you disappointed me. Your number 34 will hang from the rafters someday, but you, too will be fingered as a goat for this series climax and for your critics I can’t blame them. I’ve stuck with you through thick and thin. I know it wasn’t for lack of effort, but I can’t escape the TRUTH that my fav Celtic did a complete 180 in his legacy as one of the Celtic greats. For the good of the team I hope you opt out and sign for less money. IF you want to continue to WIN it is something you’ll seriously consider. You’re still the leader Paul, but should you choose to leave the team I would understand that, too. You’ve been a great Celtic and you owe me and every other Celtics fan nothing, but this loss will haunt our team’s legacy for a long time. I loved every member of this team right on down to the 12 and 15th men. You were a true team in every sense of the word. I can honestly say the BEST TEAM did not win the NBA FINALS. The best player, however did. ENJOY your summer and hopefully the answers to all of our questions why this season unraveled like it did will surface. Bless you all and your families.

    your friend, fan, and devoted servant

    SCOTT J MAC

    • June 20, 2010 1:11 am

      Whoa Scott J Mac. That’s like a post within a post as a comment! Thanks for being hardcore– love the fanship, love the love.
      Thank you for reading, and please check back often!

  4. June 21, 2010 3:08 am

    Love the blog. The picture of the idiot with the license plate is priceless.

    • June 21, 2010 11:50 am

      Thanks for reading, man.
      The original pic said “Kobeeee 24”. I think my edition is much, much more fitting.

  5. jessieidealist permalink
    June 27, 2010 11:16 am

    i felt he same feeling during the onset of the 4th q. I knew they had the chance to win but i didn’t have the same feeling i felt during the 2008 finals. It just wasn’t the same. I texted a friend and said i wish a miracle would happen now. unfortunately, it didn’t. the only miracle i wish to happen is for this 2010 lineup, including doc, to stay a few more years. hoping that within this few years, I might snag a chance to fly to the US (boston) to watch them live at the Garden. I need Miracle.

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