"Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye"
This is the chant that rose from the stands at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts Tuesday night with over four minutes left in the last quarter of this NBA season. It came from fans who have waited twenty-two years for a championship from the Celtics. This is not just the first Celtics' championship since 1986, but the first won in Boston by any team since 1986.
On Tuesday, June seventeenth the Boston Celtics added one more championship to the most successful franchise in the NBA, it's seventeenth. It was complete domination after the first quarter. The first quarter was close, but the Celtics pulled away in the second and they just kept pulling further and further away. By the end of it all the Celtics had won game six, and the NBA Championship, by thirty-nine points.
Paul Pierce, the Truth, who has been a Celtic since they drafted him in 1998, was named the MVP of the Finals. And he deserved it. Ray Allen, after being terrible in the playoffs until the Finals, set an NBA Finals record with seven three pointers in game six. Kevin Garnett, the defensive player of the year, made up for his lackluster performance in game five by compiling twenty-six points and fourteen rebounds. Did any of these players impress me the most in game six? No. It was none other than the young point guard, Rajon Rondo. Rondo, who had injured himself two games ago and refused to take a cortisone shot, was ineffective in the last two games. However, he exploded in game six. Doc Rivers told him to be aggressive and Rondo did not let his coach down. He constantly drove to the basket, took the open shot and he played fierce defense which you can tell from his six steals, a near Finals record.
You could see the emotion in these players after the game. Garnett was in tears and could barely speak during his postgame interview with Michelle Tafoya. Paul Pierce was pumped, shouting to the fans who had cheered the Celtics on so fervently during this game. Ray Allen was happily holding his child while celebrating with his teammates and coaches. Not only the players were excited, but Doc Rivers was very emotional. He was in near tears and what a great ending to this season for him, during which his father had died. There was even some Asian I had never seen before screaming like crazy into Kevin Garnett's face.
The Lakers were clearly disappointed, as all would be after getting that close. They played well in game five, but based on game six they just did not deserve the championship. Kobe seemed to fade off later in games in this series, Gasol seemed soft, while Odom and Vujacic were inconsistent. They were torn up. Kobe showed respect, hugging Doc Rivers and exchanging a few words with him after the game had ended. Then he walked off out of the Garden.
This is the first time I have seen the Celtics win a championship. I haven't had many years to see it happen, but these fourteen have been long enough. This is my happiest day as a basketball fan. I saw a few of the great Celtics from the past; Bill Russell and John Havlicek. I saw how the desire of an entire team working together can affect a game. I saw how history was made.
To be honest, I though the Lakers would win this series in seven. They had breezed through the more difficult Western Conference, the Celtics stumbled through the weak East. Kobe was dominating and Pau was turning out to be one of the best mid-season moves. Then these two faced off. The first two games were won by the Celtics, and I should have been optimistic, but I thought we were winning because of homecourt advantage. Then we came back from that huge deficit and I started getting excited. After I watched the Lakers win game five on a weak performance, I was confident. I knew there was no way they could win in Boston playing like that.
Then game six came and it was close. I was excited at the end of the first quarter because I thought this would be a thriller in which either team could come out on top. I was way off. Suddenly the Celtics were dominating by halftime. Then that lead grew in the third quarter. And the Celtics capped it off by scoring fourty-one in the fourth quarter alone. I was ecstatic that the Celtics had won, but I would have loved a close game. This will be just fine for me, though.
You have to give Danny Ainge some credit. Along with coach Doc Rivers and assistant Tom Thibodeau. Ainge put together this team. He pulled off the draft day trade for Ray Allen and the other blockbuster trade for Kevin Garnett. There were other, less publicized moves too. For example, the pick up of James Posey who was a hustler for the team and he constantly made plays and P.J. Brown who brought good defense, a mentor for young players and even hit a few big shots throughout the playoffs. Doc Rivers seemed to have forgotten who he was facing in Phil Jackson. He outcoached Jackson and won his first championship, while keeping Jackson from surpassing Red Auerbach. Thibodeau helped to assemble the league's best defense. He shut down Kobe along with Gasol and Odom, he deserves respect.
As a Boston sports fan, Celtics fan and basketball fan, I couldn't be happier.