Celtics and Lakers — What more could you ask for?
Today is like Christmas for any Celtics follower who grew up in the Bird era, not to mention the Russell Era, or the Havlicek-Cowens era. Everyone has been waiting a long time for this.
Not just to play the Lakers in the finals, but anyone in the Finals. Let’s see, I was in ninth grade the last time they made it this far. Since then, I’ve graduated high school, graduated college, gotten married, have had three kids and two jobs, and who knows how many cars.
This is going to be something special. Covering the Red Sox is my job and I enjoy it thoroughly. Watching the Celtics is a hobby — one that anyone who knows me with any depth knows that I am extremely passionate about. Following this team has been an addiction since I used to listen to Johnny Most under my pillow at night. I never jumped off the bandwagon either because I never knew there was a bandwagon. That’s not how it works for me.
One of my friends in the press box told me to take the smile off my face in the last couple of minutes of the Celtics game last night. Sorry, but it was hard to.
After going through Len Bias and Reggie Lewis and Bill Walton’s bad feet and Kevin McHale’s bad ankle and Larry Bird’s bad back and the train wreck that was the Rick Pitino era — I’ve blacked the M.L. Carr years out of my memory bank — and the short-lived hope under Jim O’Brien, this is surreal to know that the Celtics are playing the Lakers in the Finals.
Paul Pierce has proven to be the ultimate winner. He, more than any other Celtic — including Garnett — has put this team on his back this spring. That’s been enjoyable to watch.
This will be the best challenge yet. But just having homecourt gives them a very real chance at Number 17.
I’m not sure there can be better basketball than these two teams played in the ’84, ’85 and ’87 Finals, but it will be fun trying to see if they can.
In the next few days, you will be forced to think about who can stop Kobe, and if the Celtics can overcome Rondo’s inexperience. And as much as I defend Doc Rivers, Phil Jackson is the most successful NBA Finals coach this side of Red Auerbach. How about Gasol?
Do me a favor. Save those issues and just savor the moment for now.
Buckle up, guys and gals. This is going to be a ride to remember.