NBA Finals: Anti-Boston Fan Gives Celtics Their Due

Michael SamuelSenior Analyst IJune 17, 2008

OK, I have to absolutely swallow my pride in this article and give credit where credit is due.

As a die-hard Yankees fan, I have always hated any team associated with Boston, which carried over to the Celtics. But I absolutely have to give this team credit.

Today in the NBA there are a lot of superstars—Chris Paul, LeBron James, Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, etc.—but this 2007-08 Celtics team had three stars who were willing to check their pride at the door and share the basketball. That says a lot about what teamwork can accomplish.

Team chemistry really shows when facing adversity. The Celtics endured two Game Sevens, one against a clearly inferior Atlanta Hawks team. This whole postseason I found myself a Hawks, Cavs, Pistons, or Lakers fan for a week or two while they played the Celtics. This was because the Knicks are horrible and will be for a while, and my "fallback team," the Suns, remained unable to beat the Spurs.

I have to also give credit the the true Celtics fans who stuck through their 22-year draught of sorts, and their 24 wins last year. The Celtics play DEFENSE, and do it as a team, which is something that is often lost in the NBA.

Throughout the whole year, they fed off of each other's energy, passion, and emotion. I remember Nov. 2 in my dorm room at college watching the Celtics open the season against the Wizards, and my neighbor from Boston told me how the Celtics will win the NBA title. And you know what? He was right.

Kevin Garnett has an absolute passion for the game that really was evident throughout the season. If there was one player in the NBA that deserved a ring, it was absolutely him. He suffered of an inability to advance beyond the first round while in Minnesota, except for a Western Conference Finals run in 2004.

What a difference a year makes for him and the rest of the Celtics.

Garnett plays defense and does everything the right way. Right after the Celts won, he was so emotional in an interview with Michelle Tafoya he could hardly articulate his thoughts, and rightfully so. This cemented his resume as a first-ballot Hall of Famer because he got the one thing that eluded him: a championship ring.

Paul Pierce really elevated his level from a guy that people perceived as a very good player but not on the same level as Kobe or LeBron. Pierce showed that he could do anything on offense that he wanted in this series, whether it be drive, post up or shoot a three-pointer. He also helped hold Kobe down to some awful shooting nights.

He waited his whole career to play with another star player (other than Antoine Walker) in his prime. He now goes down as a Celtics greatnot quite up there with Bill Russell or Larry Bird, but nonetheless a great star.

Ray Allen had always been considered a great spot-up shooter. But, when Celtics GM Danny Ainge acquired him, he had to make some changes to fit in with two other stars. During the middle rounds he sort of faded and his play dropped, but when the Finals began he reached for more.

He deserves a championshipwell, anyone who wore those hideous purple-and-green Milwaukee uniforms deserves one. But, all jokes aside, he was able to deliver a dagger in the series with his drive past Sasha Vujacic in Game Four, essentially capping one of the greatest comebacks in NBA Finals history. 

Fellow starters Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins were able to find their roles on this team as younger players to go along with the superstars.

Props also must be distributed to the rest of the Celtics, particularly the forwards off of the bench. P.J. Brown does a lot of things that don't show up on the score sheet and he is able to play good defense and provide leadership.  Leon Powe had a great Game Two of the Finals, but all season he provided energy off of the bench that any NBA team would love to have. 

The Celtics could not have done this without the front office vision of former player Danny Ainge. It is a gamble to give away all of your team's future for two players that offer a chance to win NOW. Ainge showed that it may be worth it to commit to now and take a chance on making a move to change the entire spectrum of the Eastern Conference. 

Quite a turnaround from the Celtics, who last year won 24 games. This year, they won 66 and an NBA title.

Even as an admitted hater of anything Boston, I still must tip my cap to the Celtics.