NBA Finals: Boston Celtics Clinch Title 17 with Storybook Victory

Stew Winkel@stew_winkelSenior Analyst IJune 17, 2008

BOSTON - JUNE 17:  Boston Celtics fans holds up a sign during Game Six of the 2008 NBA Finals on June 17, 2008 at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

If Red Aurebach and Johnny Most got together up in basketball heaven, they could not have scripted an outcome more perfect than what happened in Game Six tonight—a 39-point (131-92) Boston Celtics victory to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers and capture the 17th championship in Celtics' history.

As Red said in 1984 after the Celtics beat the Lakers for the NBA Championship, "Well, here's your dynasty, right here."

On June 8, 1986, the Celtics won championship number 16.  It was Boston’s 16th title out of a possible 40. Had you asked Boston fans on June 9, 1986, no one ever would have guessed that it would take 22 years before the Celtics would get title 17.

After the Celtics finished 24-58 a year ago and then came up with the fifth pick in the lottery, no one in Boston ever would have guessed that a year later they would be celebrating. 

But tonight, with a perfect game, the Boston Celtics showed everyone what greatness is all about. 

The Celtics all year had been about team. The Big Three received a great deal of attention, and rightfully so. This team, however, won 66 regular season games and 16 more in the post-season, many in blowout fashion, not because one player dominated, but because of the team concept.

In Game Six, Kevin Garnett had 26 points and 14 rebounds (his sixth double-double in six Finals' games), Ray Allen scored 26 points, including 7-9 from the three-point line, and Paul Pierce had 17 points and 10 assists.

The C's had 33 assists on 43 field goals, outrebounded the Lakers 48-29 (including 14-2 on the offensive glass), and had 18 steals.

Rajon Rondo, whom the Lakers had completely ignored the last three games, dominated both ends of the court. He had 21 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds and 6 steals.

James Posey had 11 points, Eddie House 9, Leon Powe 8, P.J. Brown 6.

And, Kendrick Perkins gave the team a huge lift. I thought he had no chance of playing after suffering a shoulder injury in Game Four. He only played 13 minutes, and had more fouls than rebounds. The mere fact he played, though, had to be a lift for the team tonight.

After losing Game Five, I was admittedly nervous. I thought the Celtics had a chance to close out the series, and let it get away from them.

Then today around 2:00 pm, I saw that Perk was going to play. As soon as I read that, I started to believe. I almost felt like Norman Dale when he heard Jimmy Chitwood say, "I play, coach stays. He goes, I go."  Maybe it wasn't quite as dramatic, but I just knew it was going to take more than the Lakers had to beat the Celtics tonight.

Kobe may be the best player in the NBA, Phil Jackson may be the best coach, but the Celtics are the best team. Jackson may ultimately get his 10th ring, and break the tie with Red for most all-time. But, it wasn’t going to happen on this Celtics' team watch.

In 2004, the Red Sox, as we all know, won the World Series. It was fitting that if the Red Sox were finally going to do it, they had to defeat the Yankees to do so. If the Celtics were going to make us fans wait 22 years, it made everything more special that the final chapter had Boston defeating the Lakers. Boston is now 9-2 all-time in the Finals against the Lakers.

It would have been redemption to get it done in Game Five in L.A. considering the Lakers celebrated in Boston back in 1985. However, the way the Celtics played tonight, the way the crowd was so loud beginning right away, the way the crowd was chanting in unison in the fourth quarter, I wouldn’t trade any of the memories from tonight for anything.

What stands out about the clinching game in 1986 was the decisiveness of the rout of the Rockets by Larry Bird and the Celtics at home on a Sunday afternoon. To win a clinching game of a series in such fashion is a rarity. 

The final score of that game, albeit not exactly indicative of the game's one-sided nature, was 114-97 (with the game in hand, Celtic players went to the locker room early to begin celebrating while the game was still going on).

The final score tonight—131-92. The largest margin ever for an NBA championship clinching game. A 39-point win. Celtics-Rockets in 1986 was never in doubt—Boston was clearly the better team, one of the all-time greats.  Celtics-Lakers in 2008 was not supposed to be this lopsided. 

By the way, the Celtics season-high in points prior to tonight was 119, accomplished twice during the regular season.

It has been a rough ride these past 22 years. The way this team played, not just tonight or in the series, but all season, was more than a reward for all the fans who stuck with the C’s all these years.

I wish I could have been there in person to watch.

I wish my father could have watched this team bring the trophy back to Boston.  I wish I could have watched it with him and my brother. The three of us had such a close relationship, and so much of it centered around the Celtics and basketball.  I was a little young in 1986, and it would have meant the world to all of us to get to watch this game, this series, this team, and this season together.

I wish D.T. was still here to see this, and I wish I could have watched the game with him and Kevin. 

I wish I could have been in a Boston bar with Garry Garrison celebrating all night long.

I wish I could have been at the game with my friends K.J. or Josh, who I will be jealous of for the rest of my life because they got to be there in person.

But, I can’t be too disappointed.

My ultimate dream was to see the Celtics capture the championship. And even though I was not there in person, and not in Boston, and was in my apartment on the phone sending text messages throughout, I got to see the Celtics win the championship.

I got to see Pierce earn Finals MVP, K.G. silence all the critics with a monster game, and Ray Allen finish a great Finals series by knocking down everything in sight tonight.

I got to see Perk play through pain, Rondo make the Lakers pay for ignoring him, Posey play his tough defense, and House knock down threes.

I got to see Doc get doused in Gatorade, and Danny Ainge and Wyc Grousbeck celebrate with the team they put together.

I got to see confetti fall from the ceiling and the team with the championship trophy.

I got to see K.G. hug Bill Russell and say "I got one of my own," and "I hope we made you proud."

And, I got to see the Boston fans celebrate Championship 17 with the Celtics.  Considering everything that happened with this franchise since June 8, 1986, tonight is the night I have dreamed about, and at times I thought maybe it wouldn’t happen.

It happened, and it is better than I ever could have imagined. Your 2008 NBA Champions – The Boston Celtics. 


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