by Scott Benson
I’m not going to claim to be a real basketball fan, so I’ll try to temper the yahoo-ism a bit here, as being ‘that guy’ seems awfully unbecoming.
But God almighty were the Celtics great in their run to the team’s 17th world championship.
Let’s just say that as a result of some unsavory stuff awhile back, involving the team and the sport that we happen to most closely follow, the wife and I are trying to reconnect with what is to be a ‘sports fan’ – namely, watching games and enjoying them, cynics and critics and clowns be damned. Yelling for a great play, or a shrewd coaching move, and ignoring the shit-stirring bystander dying to be noticed. We want to dwell inside the white lines, not the story lines.
So with it being playoff basketball and everything, we found ourselves watching as each series progressed, and while the intricacies of the game were lost on us, we certainly recognized familiar sights; like the menacing defense that chokes the air from even the most formidable scorers. The clutch offense that sometimes puts its biggest points on the board only through the sheer force of the individual and collective will of its players. The coaching staff with the hearts and minds of their team on a string.
Anyway, it was all terrific and I can’t help but reflect on the core group of fans that never left the team, even when good fortune did. I’ve come across a few in my Internet travels, and I’m thinking of all the times they noodled the ever-loving hell out of a meager Celtics roster that couldn’t win half its games. Today they have the champ – and a repeat – to discuss. That’s sports justice.
What’s even greater is that for a long time, more than twenty years, the once proud Celtics have largely played third fiddle to the more recently accomplished, and trendy, Red Sox and Pats. People almost forgot that it was the Celtics who first treated Boston to the unique thrill of repeated ultimate victory, and for that reason alone I’m glad they’re the toast of the town again today.
By that same token, of the six NFL, MLB and NBA championships won by local teams this decade, only one has been secured in Boston, and it was done by the Celtics this past Tuesday night. There’s something fitting about that too.
Best of all, the whole thing was about the games on the court. Yeah, I know David Stern and the officials took over there for a minute, as did the unkempt sensitivities of Kobe Bryant and his fellow Lakers, but for the most part, it was about Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, and the seemingly endless parade of role players who each brought fits of brilliance at the most opportune times. It was about a team doing all the big and all the little things, just like it’s supposed to be done, all the while bearing every bit the confidence and determination and execution a champion’s carriage requires.
Honestly, in light of recent events, and despite the abundance of riches bestowed upon us, it’s hard for we gridiron-oriented folks not to be a little bit envious of the Celtics and their fans this week. After all, for one brief shining moment……Camelot. Those moments are indeed rare, despite all recent evidence to the contrary.
Still, for all of us who love sports, and love Boston, and love everything those two things have come to represent in our lives, that envy dissipates quickly, replaced by an admiration and appreciation for a job well done.