Lest We Forget

ESPN Expert Picks

How sweet is THAT?

A few random, rambling thoughts:

The Kevin Garnett/Bill Russell exchange following the game had me tearing up even while chills were running down my spine. Quite a weird sensation, but it’s one I wouldn’t mind having a few more times in my lifetime.

Garnett’s hanging in the air, one handed line drive shot while getting knocked to the ground is a play that will live on in highlights for years to come. In my mind, it was like the play in the 1991 Finals were Michael Jordan switched hands on a drive down the throat of the Lakers defense. “A Spectacular Move” is how Marv Albert described Jordan, Garnett’s might’ve been even more impressive.

I can’t think of a Boston athlete I could be happier for than Paul Pierce. This guy has seen rock bottom in Celtics history and now has his own legacy of greatness. The legends of the Celtics have always accepted Pierce, but now he is truly a member of their club.

It would’ve been great to see Larry Bird in the house. I know he’s happy for the fans of Boston this morning…

Brian Scalabrine (Video in the right sidebar) talking trash to the media after the game was amusing to watch. I was surprised he wasn’t joined by Scot Pollard up there…

Ray Allen. Wow. Revealing after the game that his son was diagnosed with diabetes over the weekend, he really hasn’t slept at all the last five days or so, and he was just lights out…especially in the second half. The guy was amazing, and hopefully the talk that he is done is done.

Kendrick Perkins - stat line doesn’t jump out at you, but the guy couldn’t even lift one of his hands over his head, yet the put a body on Pau Gasol and that was all he had to do. It’s hard to believe that he’s been around since the last year of the Jim O’Brien era, but he’s put in the work and is a invaluable piece to the Celtics defense.

Has Rajon Rondo stopped running yet? He was a blur, yet in contrast to some nights, he was a controlled blur. Everytime you turned around it seemed he was disrupting something. His two handed strip on Lamar Odom reminded me of Tedy Bruschi stripping Dominic Rhodes in the 2005 playoffs.

Can we get James Posey a new three year contract right now? Please?

I’m tempted to bring back P.J. Brown for another run as well. He doesn’t need to play much - 10 to 15 minutes tops - but he certainly was the piece that the Celtics needed to add late in the season. He added the veteran guile that was needed in the Celtics front court.

Doc Rivers

Yeah, I know he’s been here for four seasons now, but I’m still having a hard time believing that the same Doc Rivers who drove me crazy as Dominique Wilkins’ sidekick in the 80′s is the guy who was on the Celtics sideline when they clinched banner 17.

He did a tremendous job this season, and even more so in the postseason, and the finals, where he was a step ahead of the “Zen master” at every turn.

In the “Wired” segments that ABC showed at the start of the games and halftime, it seemed Doc was always saying the right thing. In contrast, Phil Jackson was so laid back most of the time, you could almost translate that out to the performance of his players in long stretched of time.

My faith in humanity was restored last night following the game when Stuart Scott and David Stern were heartily booed on the championship stand. Stern, you recall seemed to do everything he could to keep the Celtics down, even giving the team no cap relief after Reggie Lewis died. A few years later when Alonzo Mourning was thought to be lost for the season for the Heat, he granted the Heat space enough to sign an impact player, and then Mourning returned before the end of the season. I’ve never forgotten that. It seems that the fans haven’t either.

Sorry Bob. I couldn’t resist.

I’ll fully acknowledge that Ryan’s column was written before James Posey and PJ Brown were added to the mix and without those guys, I’m not sure we’ve got Banner 17 today.  But this paragraph from Ryan sure stands out now:

So tell me what’s so enticing about this roster. If Danny had kept Ryan Gomes, I’d be far more optimistic. And why did Danny have to relinquish two No. 1 draft picks? Am I the only one who thinks this stuff matters? There is nothing to suggest the Celtics won’t once again be a horrible defensive team. There is no guarantee Rondo can run a team and keep order among the star trio. There is no guarantee, for that matter, that Ray Allen will play 70 games, or even 60.

It’s also worth noting that the Celtics hadn’t yet hired Tom Thibodeau either, but it sure is fun to look back and see the pining for Ryan Gomes in August.

After hearing for two weeks that Kobe Bryant was the best player on the planet, I just don’t see it. LeBron was a much stiffer challenge to the Celtics, even as he struggled with his shooting. It seems we can also put to rest the “Kobe is better than Jordan” talk. Kobe has now lost two NBA Finals, something Jordan never did, and a Jordan team would never have gone out like the Lakers did last night.

I was thrilled for Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn last night as well. Watching CSN after the game, I was almost as emotional for them as for the players. These guys have truly seen all the bad times this franchise has been through over the last 22 years. To have their loyalty final rewarded with another title is most satisfying indeed.

Enjoy this one, folks. Boston in the 21st century continues to be the place to be for sports fans…

  • T.J.

    I’ll admit, being just 21 years old, I was fairly convinced I wouldn’t see this in my lifetime. Not until I had kids who were near to my age anyway. The game they played was perfect last night from the second quarter on. Perfect.

  • Chris G.

    I was just 4 when the Celtics won in ’86, so like Manny Delcarmen, I never had the memory of a Celtics title. I barely remember Larry’s last season and really didn’t pay attention to the Celtics until Reggie died.

    The gratification of sticking with the team through the downright awful years, the Pitino years, the blown lottery picks, a good but frustrating team in 2002, and the Ainge rebuilding years is amazing. Outside of 2002, I could never claim that I watched a good Celtics team, nevermind a great one. Now I have gotten that opportunity.

    This was well worth the wait. This was the perfect team to win #17. The perfect team to carry on Celtic tradition. That Garnett/Russell moment was one I will always remember. Same with Garnett’s shot…perfection is the only way I can describe it.

  • NASCL

    Good job, Bruce. A tip of the cap here to guys like Mike Rotondi and Marty Joyce who paid for the high-end tickets when the team was mediocre or outright pitiful.

  • LJ Sandwich

    APPROVE!!!! 17 times over!!!!

  • EC

    Thanks for the reminder – was trying (unsuccessfully) to find it this am on the ESPN web site. The Jemele Hill column may have been the cherry to top the “Expert Picks”. But can someone explain why she was suspended but Gregg Eastertwerp gets a free pass? Is it that as long as you make sure that you accompany wildly inappropriate remarks with lies and misstatements, it does not violate ESPN guidelines?

  • Jeff H.

    Poll question: Who deserves his ring less: Gagne or Cassel?

    • Stephen Starring

      Although not often, Cassell did play well at times during the playoffs, while the Sox basically played with a 24-man roster b/c Tito was afraid to use gagne.

  • Joan

    I get that you were happy for Tommy and Mike. When the Pats won the first one, my second or third thought was about Gino and Gil and how thrilled they must be.

    • media-tor

      No problem being happy for Mike and Tommy, Bruce…but I might’ve been a little happier for Gorman in particular had he been given a chance to call some of the Finals on radio. Does no one remember C’s playcaller Sean Grande in 2002 promising Gorman a chance to call some of the Finals had Boston gotten past the Nets in the ECF that year? Seems a little odd to me that Grande wouldn’t have made the same promise now, unless he did and Gorman privately declined.

      Has to be a strange feeling for local baseball, basketball and hockey television broadcasters that they get to call games all season but never have a chance to call their team winning a championship series.

  • LL

    Well said boss.

    One thing that should be noted is that Scalabrine hijacked the interview room when he made those statements. He wasn’t supposed to be in there and he just entered the room from behind the reporters and sat down while they were waiting for Kobe to come in.

    That was easily his greatest contribution this year.

  • Stephen Starring

    so many great moments this year and last night – lost in the ensuing blowout was the huge Posey House back to back 3′s to push a close game (3 pt) to 9 pt lead. I agree 100% with Bruce, seeing Stu Scott and Stern booed was the cherry on top for me.

    • Tony

      I totally agree on booing Stern, who has seemingly made it his mission in life to screw the Celtics and boost the Knicks and Lakers every chance he gets, going all the way back to the (probably) rigged 1985 Patrick Ewing Lottery.

      But can someone tell me why Stew Scott was booed? I’m certainly no fan of ESPN, especially after their bogus and biased Spygate “coverage”, but I don’t quite understand the boos for him.

      Need a little help here.

      • Tiffany

        Tony,

        We as Boston fans need to boo anyone involved with ESPN at any chance we can get. You’re darn right it’s because of the inexcusable Spygate coverage. Can’t wait to see what happens on the first Monday Night Football game in Foxboro this year.

  • http://fangsbites.blogspot.com/ Ken Fang

    Great job on this, Bruce.

    Stern deserved so much to be booed. The Fixer looked totally bewildered when the fans started to boo him.

    • Stephen Starring

      The Fixer…. lol

      Stern is a great commish, but kind of a tool

  • Jerry

    Respectfully disagree with your happiness for Pierce. Once a punk, always a punk. Please, no wrong place at the wrong time when he was stabbed. He needs to grow up.

    Also, the gatorade shower for doc was just plain unimaginative and stupid.

    As for Jemele Hill, she deserves nothing LESS than TERMINATION. A little be-otch with a big mouth. Typical of today’s multimedia ego-driven jack*sses. Reminds me of kornheiser.

    Cheers.

    • Lance

      So Jerry, you don’t think Pierce has grown up? Have you been watching the Celtics at all?

      But it must be hard to desperately find something to be depressed about these days – congratulations.

  • Lance

    Great team and it was a fun clinching game to watch. KG came and completely changed the mental fabric of this team. No one is more deserving than Paul Pierce and (like Kobe) this series was career defining.

    If they didn’t have Hondo’s name posted when they showed him on tv I wouldn’t have known it was him. Great crowd who showed the rest of the country how to support your team and a great time.

    And it was/is fun to see Mike Breen play the role of Maxwell Smart – he is clueless (even after the game) and doesn’t realize he’s clueless. And I wonder if Stern realizes how much of a credibility problem he has. I hope the NBA can take a clue from the Celtics and promote teams rather than players.

  • http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com Suldog

    I’m absolutely busting with joy. Couldn’t have enjoyed that game more. Perfect end to a wonderful season. And, the Garnett-Russell moment? Immediately into my Top 5 all-time sports memories. No doubt.

  • Mike

    What about bringing back Ryan Gomes in the PJ Brown spot next year? He’s a free agent and I think he’d be invaluable to the team and could play more minutes.

  • Chris

    I was pleased that ESPNs ‘Stuart Little’ got booed. He comes across as a typical ‘Title IX’ sports media hack, made more irritating thanks to the eyes and Coke-bottle glasses. ESPN ‘Expert Picks’ from Abbott & Stein are the two most laughable among a whole bunch of picks that cause me to cock my head while wondering, ‘What were they thinking?’ That people like this can be called ‘Experts’ is exactly why the sports media industry is laughed at ceaselessly.

    • PW

      Only a real man like you would make fun of someone’s disability.

  • buttercup

    If Garnett’s drive in the lane was the passion and will of the team and this whole season then Ray Allen’s barrage of threes was the poetry.

  • Marc

    The Dave Gavitt BS of how Stern screwed the Celtics still survives all these years later? It’s been 15 years and people still actually refer to it like it is true? Like it was not a cya story by his media lackies spinning it to cover their buddy whose incompetence as a GM screwed the Celtics.

    The rules of the CBA were enforced when Reggie Lewis died. They were also enforced when Magic had to leave for HIV. They were also enforced when Alonzo Mourning left for his kidney problem – you see they had been changed by that point most likely because the league powers that be felt teams should be allowed to get cap relief in situations like that.

    • Tony

      Good point….but I’ll still go to my grave believing that the card with the Knicks’ logo on it was “specially marked” in some way so that it would be the last one pulled out of that drum at the ’85 Draft Lottery :-)

  • Danny

    Defense has and will always win championships

  • Jim

    Hey “Jerry”, your last name wouldn’t be Callahan would It?

  • mike b

    I was in Chicago for all six Bulls titles. Remember, Jordan ran with Pippen — who was a phenomenal sidekick — on all six, and Grant and Rodman for the rest. He was surrounded with talent, especially on the defensive end.

    It’s easy to knock Bryant, who is far less media savvy than Jordan. But keep in mind the Kobe Lakers are a one-man show. Going forward, it is unlikely anyone else from this Lakers team will ever play in All-Star game. Gasol made one two years ago, but that looks more and more like an aberration. I’d rather have Al Jefferson. (Bynum may have the stuff, but he was injured throughout the playoffs.)

    You can compare Kobe and Michael as individuals, but you can’t really compare them through their teams.

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