I bid adieu, offer a farewell, and a final re-post
Thank you to all of the readers out there that came back to support the blog. I never wanted to compete against the big boy blogs of making this site a one-stop-shop for all things Celtics– I simply wanted to write what I knew and thought. I wanted to be a companion blog, and I think that I found a small niche among some loyal readers. For the last 2 years, this was an outlet for me to think and talk Celtics without having to do either incessantly to and with the general public. To all of the folks that helped spread the word about this blog, I give you as a BIG thank you. It was generous and kind of you, and I am incredibly grateful.
I will still be photoshop’ing pictures during the season, and will try to parade them around to others.
I leave you all with my final thoughts about the 2010 team– a re-post about a team that wrenched my heart, torched my soul, and gave me fuel for the future.
Again, thank you.
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.
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.