Celtic pride has returned to Boston. In capping off the most extraordinary turnaround in NBA history, the Boston Celtics demolished the Los Angeles Lakers 131-92 in Game 6 of the NBA Final to capture their record 17th NBA Championship. Last night's triumph was the first NBA Championship for the storied franchise since 1986. For all the Sox and Patriots recent successes, the Celtics are the first team to clinch their championship at home since that '86 Celtics team. The 39 point gap in the final score was the largest margin of victory in an NBA Final clincher.
The Celtics had fallen on difficult times since their last championship. Paul Pierce has seen much of that turmoil for the past decade. It was only last season the Celtics finished with a 24-58 record. Many thought Pierce would be gone after last season. Instead, Danny Ainge (one of the core members of those Celtics championship teams in the 1980s) acquired Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett and the Big Three were born. The Celtics won 27 of their first 30 games and finished the season with a NBA best 66-16 record. They were nearly knocked in the first round of the playoffs by the Atlanta Hawks. The Celtics could not win a playoff game on the road. There were similar troubles against the Cleveland Cavaliers. But the Celtics proved they could win on the turf of both the Detroit Pistons and the L.A. Lakers. Last Thursday, they came back down 24 points against the Lakers to win Game 4. In last night's game, Garnett and Allen each had 26 points, Rajon Rondo had 21 points as well as six steals doing his best John Havlicek impersonation. Pierce had 17 points and was named the NBA Finals MVP.
I joined the reverie outside for about half an hour. There were nearly as many people out and about as when the Sox and Patriots won championships. One might have thought there would be a larger crowd with warmer weather. On the other hand, the college kids have for the most part gone home. I did notice more African-Americans partaking in this celebration than I did for the Sox and Patriots. Given that the Celtics are nearly all African-American including head coach Doc Rivers, it is understandable there would be a greater affinity for the Celtics in the African-American community.
A victory parade is scheduled to take place tomorrow during the lunch hour. I am planning to attend. This is Boston's sixth such parade in just over six years. Isn't it interesting that all of these championships have occurred during the Bush Administration? Makes me wonder what happens once either McCain or Obama takes office next year. I'm sure the rest of the country is tired of us winning as they are of President Bush. But as someone who arrived here in 2000 I am taking the Carly Simon approach and say, "These are the good old days." Somewhere in heaven Red Auerbach is smiling with a cigar.