It's difficult to really make sense of what transpired last night, and it may take days, weeks, even years to wrap our heads around it. We started with this, then there was this, then this, then this, then finally this. Oh yeah, and there was a whole bunch of other shit in between. It's almost impossible to meaningfully consider the larger ramifications of all this, but suffice it to say, the Celtics are back atop the NBA and the city of Boston is a little bit richer for having known this team. The Garnett trade is now officially one of the most significant in NBA history, and could potentially alter the way basketball business is conducted for the foreseeable future. Ironically, if we knew last summer what we know now you have to wonder if Kobe would even still be a Laker, or if a team like Chicago or Phoenix might have offered a little extra something to pry him away from Kupchak and Co., secure in the knowledge that championships can indeed be won through front office coups. How's that for a counterfactual? The thing that can't be said enough about this Celtic team, though, and an element for which Ainge deserves both all of the credit and none of the credit, is the chemistry that this team has showed since day one. The Celtics came out with a championship on the line last night and played their best ball of the season, which is a truly magnificent statement. They were simply not going to allow each other to lose, and not a single player had a bad game. Everyone was who we'd always hoped they'd be, plain and simple, and this chemistry was far and away the most glaring difference in a series that was far, far more lopsided than the Celtics' 4-2 victory even suggests. It's almost hard to believe it, but last night the Celtics went out and played one of the best basketball games that has ever been played by any team in history. It will be talked about in Boston for many years to come, and it will hang like an albatross around the necks of Kobe Bryant and the entire Lakers organization for possibly just as long. When the chips were down the Celtics beat the Lakers by 39 points and systematically destroyed them in every aspect of the game.
Because he's the star of stars, there will be a great deal of ink spilled over the spectacular disappointment of Bryant over the coming weeks and months, some of it deserved and some of it simply easy fodder for lazy columnists. I personally don't really give a shit about Bryant, his fragile hopes and his even more fragile ego. I care about James Posey, Eddie House, Leon Powe, Kendrick Perkins, Big Baby Davis, and a whole bunch of other guys who will never change their jersey numbers to grab headlines or talk shit about their teammates to strangers with cameras. Probably most of all, though, I care about Paul Pierce, who last night finally and deservedly became one of the most iconic Boston athletes of his generation. Number 34 is going to the rafters and Pierce is going to Springfield: it's no longer a matter of "if" but simply "when," and I'm confident and thankful that it won't be for a while. James Posey ought never pay for a drink in this town again, but Paul Pierce just became a goddamned legend.
And so did Garnett. A day after Peter Vecsey penned a characteristically vicious screed against KG that I won't even dignify by linking to here, Garnett forever silenced the whispers that he can't get it done when it counts. Garnett played as well as he's played all season last night, and now has done pretty much everything there is to do on a basketball court, aside from winning an NCAA Championship (though we're guessing he's doing alright without that). Garnett's one of the seminal players of his generation, although that was truthfully always the case. This title merits his inclusion with the likes of Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan (and possibly no one else) in conversations surrounding the definitive players of this decade. He's an all-timer, no question.
Ray Allen will forever be the third of The Three but again, I'm sure he's fine with that. His kid's in the hospital, he gets a Deadwood-style eye-gouging in the first quarter and still scores 26 points and hits seven 3-pointers. Here's hoping young Walker Allen gets well soon so he can enjoy what his dad did last night; I'm sure he'll be a popular kid at his preschool.
And oh yeah, anyone else get the feeling Rajon Rondo's going to be playing in the All-Star game next year?
I'm not sure I've got anything left for now. Tomorrow is the parade and then things will slowly start moving back to normal, but today is special. Seventeen banners. Enjoy it.