|Posted by shawn cassidy on March 26, 2013 at 6:00 AM|
Article by guest blogger Ryan Hogan
I’m a Portland Trail Blazers fan. Unfortunately, the best thing to happen to my team in the last twenty years involved ping pong balls and even that didn’t work out. If that’s not bad enough, the city’s MLS teams draws more fans than its NBA squad (that’s not a joke). So over the years, I’ve found myself rooting for a variety of other teams. One of those teams has been the Boston Celtics.
Historically, the Celtics are a likable team. For the most part, their players are easy to root for and the more one learns about Bean Town the more one likes it. After all, who doesn’t love Cheers and who doesn’t rock out to the music of Aerosmith? Since several of the Celtics rivals are very unlikable—Lakers, Knicks, Heat—myself, as well as countless other basketball fans, have frequently rooted for the good guys in green.
Below are five of the greatest moments from Celtics history for non-Celtics fans. The following moments have seen the majority of the basketball world put their differences aside to support the C’s as they battled the league’s various evil empires. The Celtics and Lakers have met in the NBA Finals a dozen times (Boston has won nine of them). To prevent this list from being nothing more than a recap of the NBA Finals from the 1960s I’ve included just two Boston-L.A. championship encounters.
Jan. 7, 2013 – Celtics defeat Knicks 102-96 @ The Garden
The New York Knicks are an easy team to dislike thanks in large part to Spike Lee and Woody Allen perpetually being courtside. Obnoxious Knicks fans (sorry, that’s redundant) claim New York City is the center of the basketball universe. Well, it’s not if you go by NBA Championships. If you do then San Antonio has more of a claim to the epithet “Mecca of Hoops” than the Big Apple.
The aforementioned game was your run-of-the-mill regular season tilt with the exception of one tiny little aspect. Celtics forward Kevin Garnett allegedly told Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony that his wife tastes like honey nut cheerios. Angered, Anthony left the game before the final buzzer sounded and then waited for Garnett to come out of the locker room. Shockingly, no altercation occurred (“He’s gone Mr. Anthony. You can go ahead and act tough now!”).
You might say this makes Garnett and the Celtics out to be the bad guys. Back in the day, if you disparaged the respective spouses of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, or Magic Johnson they wouldn’t be waiting for you after the game. They’d light you up for 40 points and the next time you played them you’d ask “How’s the misses, sir?” I would never equate someone’s wife to a breakfast cereal but I certainly can’t muster any affinity for Anthony who shot 6 for 26 on his way to scoring a measly 20 points. The only thing worse than insulting someone’s wife is responding to it by shooting 23 percent from the field, picking up 5 fouls, and grabbing just three rebounds. Thank you Celtics for once again making the Knicks look bad although it’s not very difficult.
1984 NBA Finals
In 1984, the Boston Celtics defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games to win the NBA Championship. It’s hard to look back at this classic series with anything other than admiration. If you include coaches, there were 11 future Hall of Famers directly involved with this series. Even more impressive, both teams scored 100 or more points in all seven games. The C’s and Lakers battled to seven games in the 2010 NBA Finals and only once did both teams manage to score 90 or more points in the same game.
I included this series because at the time if you weren’t a fan of the Lakers you were rooting for the Celtics. The Lakers had an entertaining style of play but they attracted every fair-weather, band wagoning, weak-willed basketball fan in the world. Furthermore, the Lakers hailed from the worst place on the globe: Southern California. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest where Californians were deemed worse than communists (remember the cold war was still going on in 1984). The Celtics dispatching the flashy Lakers and silencing their phony fans was as awesome as getting a new Rubik’s Cube or a new game for the Atari 2600.
1994-1995 Boston Celtics
The late 1990s were not kind to the Boston Celtics. The team did have one shining moment. It occurred in the 1995 NBA Playoffs. With a 35-47 record the Celtics qualified for the postseason as the 8th seed. Their first round opponents were Shaquille O’Neal’s Orlando Magic—top seed with 57 wins. O’Neal’s Magic was one of the all-time most unlikable NBA teams. Hoop fans didn’t understand how O’Neal didn’t foul out of every game; Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway was entertaining but had the heart of a paramecium; Dennis Scoot was built like John Daly; and Nick Anderson made Penny Hardaway look resilient. In 1995, every kid was wearing Magic merchandize which was great because their color scheme was as ugly as Horace Grant’s goggles. The Magic were the darlings of the league but they hadn’t won anything and they hadn’t paid their dues.
The Magic gutted the Celtics in Game 1, 124-77. With the victory, the media noses went further up the figurative you-know-what of the Orlando Magic. Then in Game 2 it happened. The Celtics, led by Dominique Wilkins, Dee Brown, Dino Radka, and Sherman Douglas, shocked the world by defeating the mighty Magic, 99-92. The lowly Celtics had wrestled home court advantage away from a team that the sports media had anointed as the greatest gift to humanity since the invention of the Nintendo Gameboy. The Celtics had put the Magic just two games away from elimination! Basketball fans Boston to Seattle were dancing in the streets.
Okay, there was no dancing. The Magic went on to win the next two games (by a combined eight points), and the series (Games 3 and 4 were the last Celtics games ever played at Boston Garden). Nonetheless, for three days basket fans were able to celebrate a humiliating Magic defeat—after all they loss to a Celtics team that had Eric Montross—as well as revel in the media making excuse after excuse for their beloved Shaq Daddy. The euphoria was short lived, but the 1995 Celtics reminded everyone that “Shaquille O’Neal had won at every level except for high school, college, and the pros.” That statement would become extinct in 2000.
2008 NBA Finals
The 2008 NBA Finals was the 11th time the Celtics and Lakers clashed on basketball’s biggest stage. The Celtics would claim victory in six games to increase the team’s championship haul to 17. Throughout most of the history of this rivalry, the Lakers weren’t necessarily unlikable, it was just that they represented the most vapid and ridiculous place on Earth, Los Angeles, and served as a magnet for those basketball fans who lacked the intestinal fortitude to root for anyone other than a perennial winner.Yet, the 2008 Lakers were different. They were a team that was easy to loathe. Coach Phil Jackson proved that he is the best coach in NBA history as long as he has once-in-a-generation, game-changing players on his roster. Captain Kobe Bryant is about as likable as a fungal infection. And the rest of the team contained a slew of unctuous players: Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Jordan Farmar, Sasa Vujacic, and Luke Walton. These guys might be the salt of the Earth but they came across as henchmen from a Die Hard film or worse as American Idol contestants.
When the Celtics defeated the easy-to-dislike Lakers in six games basketball fans all over the world wept for joy. Sadly, the Lakers went on to win championships in 2009 and 2010 but what are you going to do? In 2008, from June 5 through June 17, everyone who believed in goodness and righteousness was a Celtics fan while everyone who worshipped at the heel of Satan cheered for the Lakers (was that putting it on a little too thick?).
2010 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals
In the 2008 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, the Celtics were the number one seed and the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers were the fourth seed. Then, in the 2010 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, the Celtics were the fourth seed and James’ Cavs were the number one seed. I chose the latter because in 2010 the Cavs were favored to win it all which meant god-fearing NBA fans were rooting for the Celtics. Leave it to James to make decent people root against a team from Cleveland. LeBron James isn’t evil or necessarily a bad guy. He just comes across as someone who would take his mom with him to a job interview or the type of guy who would pay someone to level him up on World of Warcraft.
None of the six games were really close and in Game 3 the Cavs defeated the Celtics by 29 points—the franchise’s worst home playoff loss. The Celtics got their revenge in Game 5 when they creamed the Cavs by 32. James amassed a triple-double in the deciding Game 6 but in the final two games of the series, when his team needed him the most, LeBron was a combined 11 for 35 from the field.
After the series, pundits, including the owner of the Cavaliers, said James had quit on his team. Then in the summer, King James took his talents to South Beach. To the delight of NBA fans everywhere, the Celtics had kept LeBron from winning a championship for at least one more year. In 2012, the Celtics were minutes away from keeping the Heat out of the NBA Finals but to the chagrin of round ball aficionados they came up short. The Heat emerged victorious in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals and then dispatched the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games to give James his first NBA championship. Oh well, a ring for King James was inevitable. Had he retired without a championship just think of all those NBA analysts on ESPN that would have looked really stupid.
Ryan Hogan is a professional writer/blogger from Vancouver, Washington. As an avid Hoops fan he roots for the Michigan State Spartans, Gonzaga Bulldogs, Portland Trail Blazers, and of course, Boston Celtics. Thank You,
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Categories: Celtics Legends Series