I’m spoiled. All my teams were garbage for the first 10 years of my life. Since then, the last 22 years have been pretty damn good. The Patriots have won six rings, the Red Sox have won four, the Bruins lifted a cup and the Celtics had 2008.
It was the first Boston Celtics NBA Finals I had seen in my lifetime. It’s something I’ll never forget. I was 20 and was watching in a barbershop in Allston, MA with a colleague of mine and her friends. The final buzzer, the Garden going crazy, and people taking to the streets are all engrained in my mind. My commute home on the Green Line with all the drunken college kids. Switching to the Blue Line and the party continuing out to the suburbs. It was wild.
There was something about this game. Really, this series. Paul Pierce had long been a hero of mine. My dad had told me of the history between the Celtics and Lakers, and I never had really witnessed that rivalry until this series. I hated Derek Fisher. Kobe Bryant made me feel conflicted. I wanted to win and I wanted it so badly.
This game is when I learned Paula Cole, who sang the national anthem, was a Bostonian. The Lakers were announced to a chorus of boos. Then the video monitor plays a video montage that includes Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce pumping up the crowd.
“Lean into each other, and most importantly breathe. Have fun and embrace it. And I wanna remind y’all just one thing. Everybody wants to win. There’s not one guy in this room that wants to win more than the other guy. But our strength is in our numbers.” – Doc Rivers
Some other things to note about this game. This was Boston’s 26th playoff game of 2008. It was also their 13th win at home in those playoffs. Both set NBA records.
Three storylines that were talked about a few times throughout the beginning of the game:
- After Game 5, the Celtics airplane had mechanical issues, so they were stuck in LA longer than they anticipated.
- Ray Allen’s son was hospitalized in LA, so Ray was running on little to no sleep.
- Kendrick Perkins had a shoulder injury. His shoulder was taped up and he was afraid of re-aggravating it.
The Game Itself
Needless to say, the Celts came into this game gassed but pumped up. If this had gone to a Game 7, who knows if they would have had anything left in the tank.
As they did throughout the series, the Lakers were solid in the first quarter. Once they got into the second, the Celtics started to pull away. After starting the game shooting 3-15, the Celts closed out the first half on a 26-6 run, sending them into halftime with a 23 point lead. The truth nearly had a double-double in the first half, dropping 10 points and dishing out 9 assists.
Asking about their first-half performance, Pierce said “It’s the NBA Finals. And we’re at home. What do you expect? We’re trying to win a championship. We want it bad.”
And they never looked back. The Lakers were never able to come close in the second half. The Celtics came out and won this game by 39. Final score, at home, to win the NBA Finals for the first time in 22 years? 131-92.
The defense was unreal. And the bench? Absolute fire.
This was my favorite Celtics team I’ve ever watched in my lifetime. Now I’ll stop talking and let you watch so you can see why.
Food for thought
Something else to think about here. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen had never been to the NBA Finals in their careers to this point. They came in and outplayed a very good Lakers team. But it wasn’t just those three guys. This entire roster was called upon the top to bottom.
Watching Kevin Garnett and Bill Russell embrace after the game hit me in the feels. The cameras catch Kevin say “I hope we made you proud” and Bill responding with “You sure did.”
Something none of us will ever forget and something I’ll leave you with. Here are the words of Kevin Garnett in his post-game interview prior to being completely overcome with emotion…
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