Random Reflections

A few days ago, I wrote this article that compares the 1969 Celtics to this present team.  That 1969 team is very special to me as it was the team that won me over as a Celtics fan.  Their heart, grit, determination and resolve were just incredibly strong and I just had to root for them as the underdog against the heavily favored Lakers.  I was a senior in high school at the time and really didn't have a favorite team.   I lived in Pennsylvania, but was not near Philly so I kind of followed the Sixers but wasn't really a "fan."  But that Celtics team, as they cleared hurdle after hurdle and kept standing, made me a Celtics fan.

I have been a Celtics fan for over 40 years now and I followed them, cheered for them, loved them and bled green for them that entire time.   I cheered through the lean years before Larry Joe Bird took the reins to lead the team to prosperity.  I have loved them through the ML Carr years, the Pitino years, and all the lean years between the Celtics 1986 championship and their return to glory in 2008. 

I just can't help seeing the parallels between the Celtics team that won my heart and the team that is thrilling my heart throughout these playoffs.   But I also see that this team has it's own identity as well. Through the Celtics dynasty of the 60's, the Celtics were mostly comprised of players that they drafted and who played in Boston for their entire career.  By the end of the 60's, this was becoming a trend of the past and player movement was more prevalent.   On that 1969 team, the Celtics had 5 players who had played only for the Celtics and another, Don Nelson who wasn't drafted by Boston, but who spent 11 years there.   It was a cohesive group.

In 2012, it is very rare for a player to stay with the team that drafted him for his entire career and the Celtics have one of those very rare players in Paul Pierce.    They also have one other player in Rajon Rondo who was drafted by the Celtics and is in his 6th season as a Celtic and who very well may remain a Celtic for life.  The heart of that 1969 team was a quirky big man named Bill Russell who had a way of changing a game with his presence.  Russell was at the end of his long and storied career.   It's not a stretch to draw parallels to the heart of this current Celtics team, who is also a quirky big man, who similarly has a way of changing a game with his presence.  Just check out his +/- numbers for this series.   KG is also at the end of his storied career.

KG wasn't a home grown Celtic like Russell,  but he has won the hearts of every Celtics fan.  It's very hard to imagine him ever playing for another team after all he has accomplished in his time in Boston.  There is talk of him coming back next year and there is talk of him retiring.  I've heard rumors of teams that are going to make a priority of going after KG this summer as a free agent, but I just don't see him wanting to settle for anything less than what they have had in Boston these past 5 years.   It seems as though KG and Russ were always destined to be linked.  Who can forget that great interview between KG and Russell where Russ offered to share one of his rings with KG if he didn't win one in Boston.  And then there was that embrace after the 2008 championship game when KG breathlessly told Russ that now he had his own.  It gives me goosebumps even now just thinking about it. And while we are talking about the warrior that is KG, can you watch this video and not get goosebumps?  

I remember the heart of that 1969 team. I remember learning that KG was now a Celtic. And now, this 2012 Boston Celtics team is showing the heart, grit, determination and toughness that won my heart all those years ago in 1969.   I can't help but draw parallels between the two teams. 
No matter how this season ends,  this team will be right up there with that 1969 team.  Against all odds they have come up BIG! 

You’ve probably forgotten all about them by now.
Nothing left in the tank, nothing left to prove, too slow, too injury prone, too much mileage. Hmm…
You better hope you’re right, because here they come and what some call age.
They call experience, grit, toughness, leadership, moxie, savvy, passion, desire, heart and these guys are at their best when the stakes get BIG.

I LOVE this team!