Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A New Year, A New Blog, A New Banner!!!

First things first, thank goodness it is basketball season.
Though last years incredible playoffs still kind of feel like yesterday, (my heart rate finally got back to normal in mid-July) there is nothing like the dawn of a new season. For me it could not get off to a better start than it did last night. Though the Celtics opening night victory against the Cavs was an average game at best the pre-game surpassed all I had ever hoped for.

The ceremony wasn't some drawn out production with crazy highlights and the old Celtic mystique being displayed everywhere (though the old dawgs were definitely in the house) it was simply a classy ceremony honoring a well-deserved group of champions from last season. It was great because these guys all seem to get it.

From Scal to KG, from the trainer to the head coach they all seemed so thrilled to now be NBA Champions and receive their ring and then together raise banner #17 to the rafters. As I sat and watched each player get their ring from the commissioner I waited in great anticipation for Paul Pierce's turn. He had already started to lose it when he took the Championship Trophy that John Havlicek had carried out of the locker room, now it was time for the ring. When Ray Allen took his ring I started to get the chills, when KG came out I had goose bumps all over and I started to well up a bit, but when Pierce came out and I saw the tears on his face I had trouble controlling my emotions. I had seen this guy and been pulling for him every step of the way since draft night in 1998 when he fell in our laps. From Pitino, to the stabbing incident, to the lose to the Nets in 2002, to it all falling apart for the next 5 years to last year's basketball paradise he has had quite the journey, and last June as we all saw he reached the mountain top.

I really did not think Pierce was gonna be able to play after he got his ring, especially with King James getting geared up in the visitors lockerroom but Pierce was clearly the best player on the court last night. He has matured in so many ways.
He no longer cares about numbers, shots and where he is ranked by the so called experts out there. Is he better than Kobe or LeBron? No way. But does he do what is necessary on each given night to lead the best team in the league on both ends of the court as well as off the court? Yes. Pierce has lost 10 pounds, he looks lean, fleet of foot and most importantly hungry. One championship will not be enough for him or his other two hall of fame teammates.

Paul was very close with Red Auerbach. I think that is one of the reasons he was so emotional last night. In an interview with John Thompson that ran during the pre-game last night both Pierce and Coach Thompson shared some memories they both have of Red. And they both used the same Red quote, "What have you done for me lately?"
That is what Red used to challenge Russell, Cousy, Havlicek and all the great Cetlics with. That is exactly what Doc Rivers is using as well. He is challenging this team to be better than last years, he says they MUST be better. When Doc got his ring last night a few things went through my mind:
1) This is his first ring!
2) He was close as a player, I can't imagine what this feels like.
3) Fans in Boston wanted him gone, he was close to being fired, the lost 18 straight, but Ainge and ownership believed in him, as did the entire team, he could not have done a better job meshing the pieces together.

As far as the game goes, it was the Boston defense and bench sparks from Leon Powe and Tony Allen that were the difference last night. Powe's dunk on Delonte West in the second half got Marv Albert quite excited, "Powe with a facial!" Both Powe and Allen have been doubted since they came into the league because of their size and injury history. Last night was a great start for them both, especially with their performance now under the microscope more than ever with James Posey gone.

The King had three spectacular finishes but was kept in check in crunch time. Again, the game was secondary with went on just moments before. Cleveland will be a team to be reckoned with in the east but the Celtics are still in a class by themselves. BLING...BLING.

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