Last night, a storm hit and knocked out our cable TV during halftime of game 6 of the NBA finals. At the time, my Celtics led the hated Lakers by 23 at home. History was on their side... only one team had ever come back in the finals to win after trailing by that margin (and that was the same Celtics team, in game 4). But I missed the opportunity to watch the end.
At 5 AM, I woke up and decided to sneak into the living room and catch Sports Center. Good news--Boston won by 39, the biggest whipping ever administered in the finals. (The previous record of 35 points was held by the '65 Celtics, once again over the hated Lakers.)
I don't really like the modern NBA that much. "My" time was the mid to late 1980's, when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were in their primes and Michael Jordan was the up-and-comer. I have often joked that I feel the same way about the NBA and politics... I haven't really liked the players or the game since '86. However, I make a slight exception for the San Antonio Spurs (my oldest son's favorite team), because they were the only team that still played what I would call solid, fundamental, team basketball (I'm happy that's what he likes, too). And now, this year's Celtics. They won with hustle, with grit, and with the best defense in the league.
The last time the Celtics (my team for as long as I've been watching b-ball) hoisted a banner was June of '86. That was month before I met my wife. It's been a LONG, LONG time. The last time they beat the hated Lakers was '84, when Magic choked. The evil team from the west coast won in '85 and again in '87, when injuries decimated what had been the greatest Celtic team of the modern era. Those were the only 2 wins of LA over Boston in 10 (now 11) head-to-head finals. So it's especially nice to have this latest win come over LA. And even better that the modern incarnation of LA is led by Kobe Bryant, my least favorite player since Bill Laimbeer (scratch that... I think I may even like Bill better than Kobe). Kobe represents all the things I hate about the modern game--immense ego, me-first mentality, huge individual stats at the expense of team wins, flashy offense over fundamentals, and an above-the-law attitude off the court (Kobe is, after all, a rapist). To see the workmanlike, much-less-heralded Paul Pierce shut him down is just icing on the cake.
I probably won't buy a t-shirt or hat to commemorate the championship. But for today, at least, I'm a proud Celtics fan.