From the vault: Celtics defeat Jordan Bulls to open 1997-98 season (video)
As we await tonight's "The Last Dance" docuseries chronicling Michael Jordan's 1997-1998 Bulls, if you were a Boston Celtics fan back then you already know how that season kicked off for Chicago. The Celtics shocked the reigning champs in Rick Pitino's Celtics debut. Pitino's press seemed to be working for the super young Celtics just as it had in college and his previous stint in the NBA coaching the Knicks.
For that one night at least, the sky was the limit for Celtics fans' dreams. Little did we know that we had just saw Pitino's peak. Fitting that Billups hits the FT's and gets the steal to finish off the game. If Pitino had just had someone to keep him in check and not be so impatient, he could have built something pretty special. It wasn't that he couldn't spot talent. He just didn't have the patience.
Billups was a solid pick at #3. Bruce Bowen was a great find off the scrap heap. Trading Travis Knight for Tony Battie was a very solid move. Drafting Paul Pierce was huge (inexplicable that sine teams passed on him).
Then I guess there also was the issue with Pitino's coaching style. One might be able to deal with his constant screaming from the sidelines as an eighteen year old college kid, but through long NBA seasons, grown men were eventually going to tune him out.
But anyway for that one night at least we were all pretty stoked to be Celtics fans. And it's pretty cool to see Bruce Bowen and Chauncey Billups in the infancy of their careers, knowing that does the road they would become NBA champions. 'Toine was also in great shape back then. Walker frustrated about half of the Celtics fan base with his wiggles and 3-point chucking, but maybe he was a man before his team in regards to the latter, as in today's NBA his shot choice wouldn't stand out.
Halloween 1997: The Celtics kicked off their season by defeating the Bulls. One of the few highlights of the decade.