Last night the Boston Celtics closed out an epic first round series with the Chicago Bulls. Once again placing their DNA imprint on the NBA history books. Their defense rendered the Bulls scoreless for the last eight minutes of the second quarter.
The Celtics, hurt, wounded, and limping showed their resiliency and mental toughness; playing the game 'the right way' by making the Bulls feel their defensive presence.
This isn't anything new for the boys in green. Game Three in the 2008 finals in Los Angeles the Celtics were down 24 points in the third quarter. They staged a defensive clinic which stifled the Laker offense and were able to earn a win.
Their subsequent dismantling of the 2007-'08 Lakers in game six proved once again that defense wins championships.
They became the first team to go from worst to first in NBA history. They have never had a No. 1 pick and none of their players have ever been scoring leaders in the league.
Thirteen of the 50 greatest players in NBA history are Celtics. The only non-champion whose jersey was retired by the Celtics was Reggie Lewis (R.I.P); a promising career cut short when he essentially collapsed and died on the basketball court.
The Celtics were the ones who revolutionized the term 'sixth man'. The year the Celtics drafted Bob Cousy they had another pretty good guard by the name of Jack Ramsey. Red knew that Cousy was the guard that would drive his team. He sold Ramsey on the concept of coming of the bench and the sixth man was born.
Twenty-one Celtics are inducted in the hall of Fame; Dominic Wilkins was also, he was never a part of a Celtic championship team he would make it 22.
Tommy Heinhsohn HOFer the owner of ten championship rings himself has been a part of every Celtic championship as a player, coach and broadcaster.
Red Auerbach, the man who wove the first thread of that fabric by drafting a certain center from the University of San Francisco Bill Russell. He knew defense won championships and Russell was the key.
Auerbach also set precedence when upon his retirement from coaching he named Russell head coach making him the first African-American coach in NBA history. He won two championships as an active player and head coach.
Bill Russell the greatest champion in NBA history has 11 of those 17 championship rings. He was the cornerstone of the Celtic mystique and transformed the way defense was played.
The Defensive Player of the year award is named for Bill Russell.
The original name for the Larry O'Brien Trophy was named for the original owner of the Boston Celtics Walter Brown.
Bob Cousy said, they would look down the court and see their opponent for that night looking at the Celtics warming up. He said when he saw that, they felt they had already won the game they had gotten in the opponents head before the tip-off.
His final game as a Celtic was the dream match up of the Lakers vs. the Celtics. They were nursing injuries and limped their way to a game seven in LA.
The Celtics were an old team and the Lakers had Mr. Basketball Jerry West, the owners the NBA everyone had anointed the Lakers champions before they even set foot on the court.
Balloons were netted and hung in the ceiling, flyers depicting the championship route for fans laid in their seats. Russell heard about their plans, he vowed to his team that those balloons would never be released.
As expected the younger, sprightlier Lakers grabbed the lead; but the Celtics staged a methodical defensive comeback and they were able to win the 11th ring for Mr. Russell.
Does a certain city that houses the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Home of the Anointed One kind of fit that bill? Aren't they the de facto 2009 Eastern Conference Champions before they even get there?
The Cavaliers and Lakers realized that defense wins championships when the Celtics led by three future HOFers, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen knocked them out of contention on the way to banner 17.
They went about and got players who they felt would help them dethrone the Celtics in this years playoff run.
Russell had a great understanding of team play and had the game to back it up. He averaged 22 rpg, led the league in rebounding four times and even had a 51 rebound game. He also had 12 seasons in which he grabbed a thousand rebounds.
Before Jordan he was known as the greatest player in the NBA; I think Jordan falls short because Bill got the most rings and he did it as a coach and player.
All athletes know and understand that championships define your legacy; last time I checked Russell out championed Jordan by five.
The Detroit 'bad boys' predicated their two time championship run on defense with Bill Laimbeer, Rich Mahorn, Dennis Rodman, and John 'spider' Salley leading that defensive charge.
The Chicago Bulls six time champions called their defensive concept "the unleashing of the dobermans." That vaunted defense was led by Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant and of course Michael Jordan.
Honorable mention goes to the Magic led Lakers, Doctor J's Sixers with Bobby Jones, Shaq led Lakers, Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler led Rockets, and the Detroit Pistons' championship team anchored by Ben Wallace.
The point is all of these teams took teamwork and defense to another level and the Celtics have done this more than any other team in NBA history to win championships.
These 2009 Celtics showed that their is very little weakness in the cohesiveness of that fabric. They did bend in this first round series but they shored up the seams of their defense and won when it mattered. The Celtics understand and embrace their legacy.
Counted out and left for fodder they move on to face the Orlando Magic who want to put them to the test. Let them come, because somethings never change.