Wednesday, June 18, 2008
On the Celtics' 17th Title (Yuuuuck... ) & Other NBA Matters
Kevin Garnett deserves a ring. So does Ray Allen. So does Paul Pierce. So does Doc Rivers. They are good guys, good for the game.
It doesn't matter: The Lakers should have won. No matter who in the Celtic organization deserves a ring, those New England fans do not.
Despite those opinions of mine, the Celtics were the better team, and the organization deserved to win. No question about it. That 131-92 Game 6 clincher was an absolute anvil dropped on the Fakers' head, as if they were in a cartoon. (Hey, they do play in Hollywood, don't they? Well, close enough.)
But we all know that Celtic fans are the worst of the New England fans, front-runners who stayed away from the Boston Garden in droves during the Bill Russell years, 1957 to 1969, all the while they packed the place for the Bruins, who stunk for much of that period.
Why? Because the Celtics were led by black men (at least on the court, and then, after Red Auerbach left coaching to only run the front office and Russell became head coach), on the bench; while the Bruins were all white. (They were also virtually all Canadian, with hardly any Americans, but did you dumb Chowdaheads evah considah that?)
But when Dave Cowens came in as center, and teamed with John Havlicek to become a Celtic team led by 2 white stars (coinciding with the Bruins’ 2 Stanley Cups in the Orr-Esposito-Bucyk-Cheevers era), suddenly they were claiming the 11 NBA Titles the Celts had won under Russell. The bastards.
And while Spike Lee was wrong in one regard (there were plenty of MF’ers in the league who were uglier) and it’s hard for a New York-area fan to now say that Isiah Thomas was right about something, Larry Bird did get called as great as he was called because he was white. A black forward with just as much talent would have been called… the Mailman. Karl Malone.
Since that time, Celtic fans have embraced black players, from the ill-fated Reggie Lewis to the current triad of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and their spiritual leader, Paul Pierce. We can look forward to seeing Numbers 5, 20 and 34 raised to the rafters at whatever they’ll be calling the New Gahden by then.
But I really don’t want to hear another word from New England fans. We can’t accuse the Celtics of cheating, the way we can on the Red Sox and we already know for sure on the Patriots. But these people have been sorer winners than they ever were as sore losers.
(NOTE: I forgot how the Celtics cheated by turning off the air-conditioning in the visitors' locker room at the old Boston Garden during those 90-plus-degree Boston Mays. But, as far as I know in 2014, the 2008 Celtics were clean.)
And while I enjoy a good insult of Kobe Bryant, whether it’s from Shaq or the guys in his “hometown” of Philadelphia…
Curt Schilling, of the Boston Red Asses and 38pitches.com: You have freedom of speech, but you abuse it by taking Kobe to task for doing what you have always done, and just did again by dismissing the Manny Ramirez-Kevin Youkilis incident: Putting yourself ahead of your teammates. No matter what your achievements, Curt -- even if you haven't used steroids, and since you're a bigger Roger Clemens acolyte than anybody, who's kidding who -- you will always be a bum.
Despite the exhortations of the likes of Michael Wilbon on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption and NBA Shootaround, it's hard for me to watch the NBA now. By the time the Barclays Center finally opens -- if it does -- and my team becomes the New York Nets again (or the Brooklyn Nets, or whatever Bruce Ratfinkner ends up calling them), they will have been a "lame-duck team" even longer than the Montreal Expos were. And for a New York Tri-State Area team, that's a bigger disgrace than anything that happened in the quarter-century between Dr. J and J-Kidd (1976 to 2001).
Which is a lot: The collapse from the top of the ABA to the bottom of the NBA, the Secaucus Seven, Dennis Hopson, Yinka Dare (the Three-Minute Egg), John Starks' clothesline on Kenny Anderson turning a really good player and a really good team into a whiny brat and a dysfunctional roundball unit, Derrick (Whoop-Dee-Damn-Doo) Coleman, Shawn Bradley wearing Number 76 because of his total games played rather than his height, Ed O'Bannon, and, of course, becoming the second of the now four teams messed up by Stephon Marbury, the biggest "clubhouse cancer" in Tri-State Area sports history.
Which is all the more reason the Tri-State Area needs the Knicks as a live franchise. They may never be what they were with Willis Reed, Walt Frazier & company, or even what they were with Bernard King and Trent Tucker, and I couldn't root for them when they were a bunch of thugs (Starks, Latrell Sprewell), but if they can get their act together in the next few years, who knows?
Some closing thoughts on the Celtics winning Title 17:
It took the New York Yankees 54 years to win their 17th World Series, in 1956.
It took the Montreal Canadiens 62 years to win their 17th Stanley Cup, in 1971.
It took the Celtics 62 years to win their 17th NBA Title, exactly as long as it took the Habs, and a bit more than it took the Yanks.
And the drought between the Celtics’ last title and this one was 22 years (1986-2008). Even counting their dreary first few years of existence, the Yankees have never gone 22 years without winning a World Series – their peak is 21 (1903-23), 18 if you don’t count that beginning (1979-96). The Habs’ longest drought is their current one, 15 years (1993-2008), 14 if you take out the 2004-05 season that wasn’t played and the Cup that wasn’t awarded.
On the other hand, the Canadiens left the Montreal Forum, moved to the Molson Centre (now the Bell Centre) and still haven’t advanced as far as the Conference Finals. The Celtics left the Boston Garden for the FleetCenter (now the TD Banknorth Garden) the same season, and had only advanced to one Conference Final until now.
That they have finally won a World Championship in their new building is a good sign for those of us who are concerned about what might happen after the Yankees leave the one and only Yankee Stadium we ever wanted. Maybe the “sports gods” won’t be mad at the team after all.