A Season to be Proud of

Back when Celtics Pride existed, the team publication, KC Jones used to have a feature in it called "KCs Corner."  It would be a section he would write in pretty regularly throughout the season. I recently stumbled upon his recap of the 1987 Finals loss.  I figured it was definitely worth reprinting. 

For anyone who might have been too young then, this is absolutely worth reading.  For anyone who may have forgotten over the years just how charismatic and wonderful KC was as a coach and person, reading this will certainly remind you.  Anyone who in recent years claimed that Doc Rivers embodied Celtics Pride would've had even more terrific things to say about KC and his time in Boston.

Here it is:

A Season to be Proud of by K.C. Jones

Another season ended, and another season I am extremely proud of.  Despite the fact that we were defeated in the final series by the Los Angeles Lakers 4-2, the thing to remember about this season is that we shouldn't have even made it to The Finals. This rag-tag ream with the broken feet.  This team that rallied from exhaustion and injury to defeat two of the best best teams in the league, Detroit and Milwaukee, to become the champions of the East.  These guys hustled, played excellent defense and displayed the ability to raise their game another level when they were forced to.  They did everything they could do.

These qualities about this this year's team.  These are what should be remembered.

I would be shirking my responsibilities as coach if I weren't critical of some of our

technique.  Yes, we did have problems executing our offense at times.  In this area, we fell into periods when we held the ball too long in our set offense; this in turn allowed the Lakers to gain some defensive momentum in Game 4, the game they rallied to win in Boston.  I really couldn't fault our defense, however; even in games where a team like Detroit or LA seemed to be running away from us.  If you're having trouble executing on the offensive end and scoring points, you're consistently going to encounter problems stopping people.

Paul Pressey defends Larry Bird

I felt from the beginning of the Milwaukee series that we we would be up against it.  The Bucks had a strong power game this season, with the center play of Jack Sikma.  Their running and pressuring game has annually been one of the best in the league, and once they defeated us in the Garden in Game 5, we appeared to be living dangerously.  In that game, Robert Parish went down with a sprained ankle and we were already attempting to compensate for the reduced effectiveness of Kevin McHale.  Both of these men played hurt and played superbly, however.  We had Robert sit out of Game 6 of that series, but he came back to be the superstar that he is in the 7th game.  At that juncture of the playoffs, I decided we needed to be even more patient with our pattern offense, be even more determined to work the ball inside to our big men, without, of course, sacrificing our open shots if they were there.  I can't say enough for the type of commitment our players had in staying with our design.

Larry Bird, Dennis Johnson, Danny Ainge, Parish, McHale...how does one describe the season these men had?  Courageous, positively.  Unselfish and superlative, too.  The way these players hung together, for example, throughout the Game 2 win over Chicago in the miniseries, or the entire 2nd game of the Detroit series, when they were beginning to find their game.  Later on in that series- two other evens remain implanted in my mind- Robert Parish was involved in a fighting incident with Bill Laimbeer and our player was suspended for one game.  But this occurred after the third game, when Laimbeer nearly seriously injured Bird when our guy was driving to the basket.  Parish's response had a kernel of justice in it.  In that game, Parish went down with a sprained ankle and again we persevered when Larry stole the ball near our basket, and passed to Dennis for the winner.  This play capped as fine a clutch effort by  our team- minus one of the best centers in the team's history- as I've seen in this league.

The other event from that series that's memorable is the 7th game, when we hounded the offensive board for over a minute to clinch that contest.  If Isiah Thomas's less controversial comment, that Detroit is better than we are, is correct, then so be it.  Our determination in winning the series was never more poignant: we win the 5th without Parish down the stretch and we outlast them in the 7th, when the blue chips were on the line.

The Finals were disappointing, sure. I did raise my voice somewhat during the first two games at the Forum; particularly in Game 2, when we had such a strong start, only to see our game self-destruct late in the first half.  But we rebounded; we won Game 3 admirably and except for the final inescapable two minutes of Game 4, we were in command at the Boston Garden, where our play continued to symbolize that we are the class of basketball.

We drafted last week, and then I was off to Oklahoma for an appearance.  This summer there will be some time for a vacation, some time to get away from designing offenses and defenses.

I was hit hard, and wounded deeply by the passing away of my Mom during the Detroit series. We carried on; but how does one ever really recover when one so dear isn't with you any longer?  This was the most emotional heartfelt loss this basketball season.  It was a tremendously gratifying season for our basketball team this year, however, in many ways.

KC Jones.  An amazing man embodying Celtics Pride.  If you all can remember how gut-wrenching the 2010 Finals was, 1987 was probably even more hurtful.