NUMBER 17

No, not John Havlicek. The number 17 now has an entirely new meaning in the proud, storied history of the Boston Celtics.

On June 17, 2008, the Celtics won their 17th championship. This, on the birthday of the late Grady Rivers, whom son Doc had to bury back in November. This, after 22 years of no championships — and precious little good fortune — for the Green Machine. This, on the heels of a magical season in which Danny Ainge — a scrappy and championship Celtic during his own playing career — built a juggernaut of a team after dodging slings and arrows the previous four seasons.

This, my friends, was an absolute clinic. I’d probably have to go back to the third quarter of Game 5 against the Hawks in 1986 when the Celtics went on a 36-6 run to find a time when the team put on as thorough and as breathtaking a display of perfect basketball as they did tonight. You can not play a better game then the Celtics did tonight.

You look at this game, and you wonder what it would have been like for Johnny Most to call, or Red Auerbach to watch, or Dennis Johnson. This was vintage Celtics.

It was nice to see them do it at home in front of a joyous TD Banknorth Garden crowd. (Thanks to good friend Louise Cornetta for the excellent photo live from the scene).
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This was the first time the classy Doc Rivers tasted championship champagne — not to mention championship Gatorade. It was also the first time for Kevin Garnett, who changed everything when he arrived in July. And Paul Pierce, who played on a great Kansas team in college that couldn’t get it done, and stuck through some very hard times with the Celtics where he was on the brink of losing hope but he managed to stay the course. And Ray Allen, as sweet a pure shooter as any in Celtics history.

I must say, it was very interesting for me to take in this championship in the city of Philadelphia, a sports-crazed region that has not seen any of their teams win it since Moses Malone and Dr. J put the Sixers on their back way back in 1983. Imagine that? A complete quarter century without any championships. You can sort of feel the bitterness of the fans in Philly, who are every bit as passionate as Boston fans. For instance, when we were waiting to get into the clubhouse tonight, one of the Red Sox beat writers asked the security man if he could turn his TV on to the Celtics game while we were waiting. The security guy said, “I could, but I won’t.” Typical. Oh well.

It is simply amazing that the city of Boston has won no fewer than six championships since that night of February 3, 2002, when Adam Vinatieri’s 48-yarder boomed through the uprights, forever changing the atmosphere in a region that had so many bitter disappointments. Boston, quite simply, is the new winner-ville in sports.

You look at this Celtics roster and nearly every guy made a key contribution along the way.

Paul Pierce. All he did was take his game up about nine notches in the playoffs. He wouldn’t let them lose Game 7 against Cleveland. He wouldn’t let them lose Game 6 in Detroit or Game 4 in LA. And he didn’t let his knee injury in Game 1 keep him from taking over in crunch time. It’s so deserving for Pierce to be the MVP. Number 34 will hang proudly in the rafters some day. You can take that to the bank.

Kevin Garnett.  All KG did was change the entire culture of the franchise. He did it with attitude and he did it with defense. I was  a little rough on him after his nightmare in Game 5, but understand this about KG. The only reason he doesn’t come through sometimes is because he wants it so darned bad that he can’t channel it. There are worse crimes. And how touching was that moment where Kevin Garnett embraced BIll Russell after the game and said, “I got my own, I got my own.” Remember, Russell said if Garnett gave it his all but never won it all, he would share one of his rings with him. That’s no longer necessary.

Ray Allen. He felt like a fish out of water at times this season, deferring to a pair of potential Hall of Famers and sometimes losing his way. It seemed Ray had completely lost it in the first two rounds of the playoffs, only to find it in time to play his best basketball of the year in the final two rounds. Good stuff. His finishing drive in Game 4 will forever live in the annals of Celtics history.

Rajon Rondo. This was the big question mark when the season started. Could they win a championship with young Rondo at the point? There were plenty of highs and lows along the way, but Rondo finished with a spectacular clincher. And don’t forget that Kevin McHale asked for Rondo in the Garnett swap and Ainge flat-out refused.

Kendrick Perkins. He will never be Robert Parish, Dave Cowens or Bill Russell but he did all the dirty work down low. All in all, a great success story for a second round pick of Danny Ainge’s back in 2003.

James Posey.  I loved this signing from the day it was made. There are players and there are winners. This guy is a flat-out winner. How many big three’s did he stick in the playoffs? Too many to remember. Posey was in inspiration to this team on the floor and in the locker room.

Eddie House.  Perhaps the only real mistake Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers made all year was losing trust in House and going after Sam Cassell. In the end, House proved his worth. Yet another player who came up HUGE in the historic Game 4 comeback.

P.J. Brown. The guy was retired at the All-Star break. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen helped talk him into a comeback and Danny reeled him in. He played second star to Pierce in Game 7 against the Cavs. He was the tough veteran bench player this team needed down low.

Leon Powe. Game 2 of the Finals. Enuf said for this rags to riches story.

Glenn “Big Baby” Davis. Let’s not forget some of the big nights this guy had during the regular season. A steal where they got him in the draft. It was good to see him re-appear in the clincher. He will be heard from in the coming years.

So sit back and relish this moment and hope you don’t have to wait another 22 years to see another one. Parade on Thursday at 11 a.m.!!!!

Ian.

32 Comments

Ian,

Philly sports fans are the worst. Throwing snowballs in the booth at Verne Lundquist and Terry Bradshaw, they even booed Santa Claus. That security guard should let it go, lol. He sums up Philadelphia sports fans.

That game 5 back in 1986 vs Atlanta was the same night Clemens struck out 20 Mariners. Doc Rivers was on the short end that night. Not last night. Great to watch the C’s celebrate, that game last night was over early. A clinic is the best way to describe it.

Ian, best write up on the Celtics victory is found on a RedSox Blog! Is their a link to your write-up on the Celtics site?

Boston up by 5 in the 7th inning without Ramirez and of course no Oritz. Drew is carrying the Sox today. A mark of an excellent team, other players elevate there play. Looks to be another solid start for Masterson. Hardly any innings above A.A. and he has done a great job in the big leagues. This was the only series I thought Boston would lose in the month of June. If Boston was in the N.L. they would win over 100 games. No doubt!!!! If they win today, they will be 7-2 against the N.L. 9 more games to be played against the N.L. and 6 of them at Fenway.

The Red Sox should honor the Celtics on their next home stand and should wear their St. Patrick’s Day green shirts in tribute. The Celts just buried the Lakers. It almost wasn’t fun to watch except to see Phil Jackson floundering around the LA bench. Don’t like him, never did, never will.

Well, here we go with the bullpen again. Masterson goes five good innings and turns it over to a bullpen that has no spine. Dave, you asked about relief pitchers? Here you have it. These guys are supposed to come in and get three outs. How can the same guys fail at it time after time, and mostly because they don’t have the discipline to throw strikes. We’ll see how Del Carmen does, but he has a Hansen like history as well.

Del Carmen walks the first freaking batter he faces. This is a major league pitcher folks. Some get Radatz up in the bullpen.

OK, OK, OK…… Del Carmen comes back and gets out of it. But why does he have to put himself and the game in jeopardy with a walk and the heart of the order coming up? These guys are going to turn both of my remaining hairs white.

Gsm,

I agree with you about the Celtics. Watching Phil Jackson get lit up was great. Only thing that would have been better would have been Red lighting one up near Jackson. There are certain coaches I just don’t like and Jackson is high on the list, along with Pat Riley and Brian Billick. The Red Sox wore there green jerseys last year and they beat the Yankees on a Friday night. I think you’ll see them honor the Celtics in there next homestand for sure.

Also it was great too see the trio of Allen, Garnett and Pierce leave the floor together and they received a well deserved standing ovation.

Manny DC did a good job; after I was ready to pull what little hair I have left out of my head. What is it with Boston’s BP that they won’t throw strikes? They have some great arms and they mess around nibbling at the corners and getting themselves in hitters counts. It’s frustrating. I had a Dick Radatz glove when I was a kid.

As long as the Sox are playing an NL team I have to make a comment on Hank S. I don’t think MLB should change the rules so that Wang doesn’t hurt himself running the bases, or Colon swinging like a 12 year-old for the fences every pitch. If pitchers can’t run around the bases or take a turn hitting without hurting themselves, shame on them, they’re finely toned athletes who make millions to play a game; practice a little!! It’s not a surprise that you’re going to play interleague games, get ready for it! I do think they should change the rules because the DH adds more offense. I’ve always wondered why pitchers couldn’t practice more and learn to hit at least a little bit. I mean, every position player has to hit, has to practice both defense and offense, why not a pitcher? But that’s not going to happen, so why not just make the NL adopt the DH? NL defenders often point to the “strategy” in the NL. When to pinch-hit, the double switch, etc. That’s not strategy, it’s an inconvenience for the manager the fans and the players. Also, and more importantly, it puts the Sox at a disadvantage. So change the NL to the DH already!

2 out of 3 from the Phillies, a tough team. Great job Sox! And what a job so far by Masterson, this kid could be for real! The Sox FO has really done well to draft so many young guys that have been able to make an impact. I’m impressed with this teams management.

Arnie,

Chances are the Phillies will win the N.L. East, D’Backs in the west. The Cards have a good chance to win the wild card. Boston will take all the series against them. Boston bounced back after getting clubbed in the opener. This might have been there best series on the road yet. I hope more to come. Next 9 against the N.L. and the Red Sox continue to DOMINATE the N.L. over the last few seasons. J.D. Drew is just killing the ball. It must look like a beach ball as it approaches home plate. Drew sticks it to the lovely/classy Philadelphia fans, lol.

Too bad Radatz fell at home and killed himself. Never saw the Monster pitch but he owned Mickey Mantle. He struck him out several times during there battles. I would have loved too have seen him pitch. He would have saved 50 games per season if he was handled like today’s pitchers. I’m sure gsm can tell me more about Radatz.

I agree on Philadelphia fans, worst in sports. Ian has to be diplomatic and say they are “passionate”. That’s his job, to write well of everyone. But I say they are rude, ignorant and absolutely without any redeeming value whatsoever. And that’s their good side.

Arnie,

I do agree, that is there good side, lol. I believe they were the first stadium ( Veterans Stadium ) to have a jail at the stadium and a judge. That speaks volumes right there.

A jail and a judge? That’s hilarious. Wow, the stuff that goes on & I know nothing about it. My world is so small sometimes.

Brian, Dick Radatz was the most dominating pitcher I ever saw take the mound. For a three year period, 1962-64, he won 40 games and had 78 saves. He averaged right around 11 strikeouts per nine innings and had an ERA of just about 2.00. The rules for saves were different then and you didn’t get one for coming in to pitch one inning with a three run lead. Radatz would often be called upon to come into a game in the 6th or 7th inning, runners on second and third, nobody out or one out. He would get out of the situation and be expected to finish the game. He averaged about 2 innings per appearance. If you needed the strikeout, Radatz was the man. He was referred to as the Monster because of his size. He was huge. He was a sidearmer who I’m sure approached 100 mph. He had no strategy…… throw the ball as hard as he could over the plate. If the hitter could hit it, so be it. Pitching both ends of a double header was commonplace. He once pitched nine innings in relief to win a game in what I remember being the 16th inning. Right handed hitters cowered in the box. He was amazing.

Goose Gossage was a great reliever, but he never approached the Radatz dominance. I don’t believe any reliever has. Radatz was pure pitching fury. Unfortunately, his stay was short. He was probably overworked. The decline began in 1965, which was still a good year, but it was apparent he was losing his dominance. It went quickly downhill after that.

In later years, he got huge and tragically died not too long ago when he fell off a ladder. Those of us who saw him pitch will never forget “The Monster”. There has never been anything like him since. Rest in Peace Monster.

Arnie,

Only in Philly would you have a jail and a judge, lol. It was the 3rd deck at the old Vet that would cause most of the problems. I think there are other stadiums that do that now as well. Raymond James in Tampa has a holding cell, not sure about a judge. More in the N.F.L. that happens, with all the tail gating and boozing.

Gsm,

Thanks for the info about the Monster. He sounded like he totally dominated and over powered all hitters. He is one of the past players that I would have liked to seen play. Ted Williams is high on that list as well. So many to name. Willie Mays, Hank Aaron just to name a few.

If Radatz was handled like today’s pitchers, he would have had a much longer career. I love when Papelbon comes in and throws some heat and challenges the hitters. Papelbon is one guy the Sox would be totally screwed if he got hurt and missed any length of time.

Goose was cetainly dominating as well. He challenged every hitter that came to the plate. When he came into the game, it was over. Rollie Fingers and Bruce Sutter as well and of course Mariano Rivera. Papelbon gives you that same feeling when he is in the game.

I’m sure Francona could tell some stories about the classy fans in Philly. They were brutal to him.

Wow, I never knew all that about Radatz, I just had the glove. Thanks, Gsm, for the info. I should’ve saved the glove.

Guys, which one of u kidnapped the REAL JD drew??? so i can thank them….

I’ve have been one of the few who always liked JD — I just hope he can stay relatively hot, and most of all stay hot once Ortiz returns — I hope its not the responsibility of the 3 spot that inspires him, and the (perceived) demotion to the 6 spot un-inspires him, which is likely when David returns.

We all have to admit, he has been more productive in the 3 hole than Ortiz has been all year. Not saying he can maintain this, but for this period of time, he has out performed Big Papi.

Hey BosoxBrian:

You’ve got to love winning 2 of 3 in Phila. At the beginning of the month, I said it would be satisfying if the Sox finished June 15 game above .500. Now, if they take 4 of 6 in the current homestand, and split the last four games of the month on the road (3 in Houston, 1 in TB [which continues with 2 more in TB in July]), they’ll end up June 19 games above .500. That’ll get them winging their way to winning 100+ games this year, and the AL East crown again, Yankees spurt or no Yankees spurt. I am just amazed at the way they’re playing with the injuries continuing.

I do hope someone is considering having Crisp serve his suspension while he’s injured. I know it means they can’t open a roster spot. However, with Ramirez returning, Ellsbury, JD and Brandon Moss, they have enough outfielders to get through Crisp’s suspension time…not to mention that Youk has demonstrated his ability to play the outfield in the pinch…or that Bobby Kielty is, I’m sure, waiting patiently, just begging for an opportunity to get back to the majors by replacing Brandon Moss or something.

Let’s face it. Crisp charged the mound when the pitcher hit him without throwing at his head. The ingredients to eliminate or even reduce the length of his suspension are not present. If there is a wrist problem (no matter how minor everyone is suggesting it is), why not give it adequate time to heal while Crisp is serving his suspension? Jon L. has already served his. With the way the injuries continue to occur, the Sox should put as many of these situations behind them as they can, winning, while working toward a stretch run during which most all of their players are healthy and ABLE TO PLAY!!!

I recognize its a tough time to take Crisp out of the line-up, when his hitting is heating up (I saw him hit one out in Cincy on Saturday). But the Sox management and Tito have always looked at the big picture, the long haul, rather than the short term. Long Haul: they need everyone back for August, September and October.

If JD’s bat stays hot, what a potent line up will be after Ortiz and Manny return:
Ellsbury/Crisp
Pedroia
Ortiz
Ramirez
JD Drew
Lowell/Youk
Youklis/Lowell
Veritek
Lugo/Cora
And the Sox potentially has 3 aces (Beck, Dice-K, and Lester) in the rotation. I am so relieved that Theo didn’t trade away Lester, Masterson, Lowrie for Santana.
What a feeling to be a Red Sox fan, I mean to be a Boston sports fan. Celtics – NBA champ 2008, Red Sox World Series Champ 2008 (again), and oh, never mind with Patriots.

Dbenjamin,

We talked about June being a good month for Boston. Them winning every series in the month of June. It looks like that will be the case. Lohse, Boggs and former Sox righty Pinero are slated to pitch this weekend and the Cards are without Pujols. Boston should win at least 2 if not all 3.

Sox have so much depth and it is showing in every game. Look at Moss yesterday, comes up big with the bases loaded. Crisp hitting the longball during this road trip, that is a added bonus when Crisp hits the longball. It also looks like Pedroia snapped out of his slump during this road trip. Ramirez will go back to being the D.H. the next 6 games. I’m sure his hamstring will be fine to do that. I hope anyway.

Bullpen is still a concern and of course Lugo at s.s. is a problem. Not only in the field but his bat as well. Alot of injuries and issues but they still have one of the best records in the game.

Brian, the relievers you mention were great to be certain. In those days, Gossage, Radatz, Fingers etc didn’t worry about situations or whether a hitter was right or left handed. They came in, they did their job, and that was that. No question, Papelbon has the tools to be very Radatz-like. But when the Sox went to extra innings the other night after Pap gave up the home run, and he came out of the game to let Hansen pitch the 10th, you saw the dfference between today’s closers and the great relievers of yesteryear.

Gsm,

The worst part of it, Papelbon got the win. He let up the game tying homer. He deserved no win.

Everything now is so situational. That is why nobody will hit over .400. It is too difficult. Chipper is over .400 today but that will not be the case at the end of the season.

It apears that the Sox hits a lot of back to back home runs this year. Is it the most in MLB team this year?

Everyone keeps talking about the relatively favorable schedule for the SOX in June — but we are playing all 1st and 2nd place teams here on out (for June) and Tampa at home (where we are winless this year). Have you seen the Yanks schedule? — talk about the scheduling gods favoring them, they may not drop a gain the rest of this month (even without Wang) — they have SD, Cin, Pit, NYM, Texas, all middle to last place teams. Unless the Mets get their head straights — Yanks may win out in June — its hard to not imagine them not picking a few games up on us during this stretch.

Dgneubert,

I don’t know what schedule you are looking at. The Sox schedule was quite favorable in June. I’m going to take a guess and say in the month of June they will win every series. Don’t you think that as well?

Yes, I do agree the schedule is favorable, but I am just saying the Yanks is flat-out a gift, they could literally not drop a single game the rest of June with SD, Cin, Pit, NYM, Texas (one day in June.

Even though its a favorable schedule for us — we are still playing 1st and 2nd place teams most of June (with the exception of Cin and Hou), while they Yanks played mostly last place and a few middle place teams.

Hopefully NYM will rally by the time they meet up with Yanks.

Dgneubert,

I really don’t care about the Yankees or any other team in the division. My view is if the Red Sox play the way they are capable of they should win the divison. Boston should win 95 or more games this year. The Yankees and Rays among others can battle for the wild card. Perhaps 2 or 3 years ago I would have a different perspective but it has changed as we all know.

Gsm,
Your comments of 10:18 this morning started me to thinking(not always a good thing!), why is the game different and what’s changing the players of today? And I think that it’s partly the fact that now there is so much more competition for the 600 or so roster spots. You’ve got players from Asia and Latin America pushing hard to get a chance to play here. Also there is the money factor. Don’t get me wrong, I love money and I love capitalism; I think our free market system is the best. However, when you combine free agency, TV dollars and now the internet you’ve got a huge infusion of cash into MLB and that has changed the dynamic. Now the average player is quite well-to-do and he no longer has to have a job in the off season. So all the players now can spend months working out and practicing. The level of play has gone way up. There aren’t as many easy outs as there were 35, 40 years ago. Pitchers have to work harder to stay sharp. The hitting is so much better and everybody is so much stronger. Also, you have, if you are the owner, a huge investment in these players. A good pitcher is like a piece of fine china from the Ming Dynasty. So valuable and delicate. Look at Wang the other day, he runs 120 yards and injures himself. Pathetic. But that’s the way it is now. And Hank wants to have the rules changed to protect his investment. Can’t blame him there. Well, I guess you can always blame a Steinbrenner.

The game evolves, and I think that’s a good thing. Look at what Babe Ruth did; basically invented the power game. I’m sure there was grumbling about that. And Jackie Robinson brought back the running game, good stuff. So money and competition have brought the era of pitch counts and innings caps to try to save the valuable arms of pitchers. Not all bad. If we get to watch Papelbon longer, I’m all for it. If Lester pitches 15 years, that’s good. I just wonder if it will work, all the safe-guarding of those arms. Sorry about the overly long post.

Hey guys,

I guess no surprise but Schilling won’t pitch this year. He’s going to have surgery which is what the Sox should have done in the first place. It would have given him a chance to pitch this year vs. this disaster. Schilling I hope will be grateful for the few years he was with the Sox. I hope he understands that Sox have been good to him and will leave on a high note — I hope.
I’m discouraged about it but the Sox have some good arms. Schilling will walk away with 8 mil and says he wants to pitch beyond that — give it up Curt.
Right now we have Beckett, Lester, Wakefield, Colon (maybe), Dice-K, and (variable pitcher) and whomever that is we’ll see. Will it be Masterson (too young I think), Buck (I haven’t heard about him as of late) or someone else. We’ll have to see but they may need to do something now.

Hey guys,

I want a thought on this: Do you think J.D. Drew got hot because the pressure was off of him? I mean having to walk in the shadows of Manny and David Ortiz puts a lot of pressure on you to compete. With those two out of the lineup, it perhaps calmed him down and relaxed him — e.g. the you’ve got nothing to lose idea.
What do you think?

Before I forget, congratulations to the Celtics. Way to go!

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