Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Jesus truth about my running ticket as a Celtics fan

I am a Boston Celtics fan. I will admit I am a fair weather one too, not as consistent with them as I am with Manchester United. They gave me some great years from 2008 and 2012. With the Big 3 and their coach Doc Rivers shipped out of town, I am back to the cold winter fan days I am afraid. I can't believe the Boston Celtics will start the 2013-2014 season without any of Paul PierceKevin GarnettRay Allen and Doc Rivers. For what it's worth, I know the Jesus shuttle left last year, but to doctrinate that the Big Ticket's absence in Beantown would be Truth could make me cry rivers right now. It's an end of an era. As a Celtics fan, I am sad to see this run end, but hopeful for a quick turnaround to give Boston a team that will be relevant in April, May and June. As a basketball fan and a fan of these 4 aforementioned, I also wish them the best as they see out their careers.

I started following the NBA very closely when I arrived in the US in 2001. On the East Coast, my favorite team was the New Jersey Nets. Probably because I had spent that first US weekend in New Jersey and I also liked how Jason Kidd played. It's awesome he's coaching them now and especially has Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to count on the court. But back to these Celtics. Once, I got to MIT in 2002, I had to support the hometown team. They were the reason for the season of watching live NBA games. These were the days of Antoine Walker, Paul Pierce and Tony Battie. The Celtics were a playoff team but not a contender. The year before, they had come back from 21 down in the 4th quarter in the playoffs against (yeah, you guessed it) the Nets. Antoine Walker was a tall man who liked to shoot many ill-advised threes and Paul Pierce was a fearless gunner. An entertaining team to say the least.

I saw my first Celtics game on March 17, 2004. I remember the date because folks keep good records of NBA games. I actually went to see Carmelo Anthony play. He had joined Syracuse after I joined entered MIT in September 2002. I was tall too, but couldn't dribble the ball for nothing or gain enough position to grab rebounds. And no, MIT is not that terrible for me to have made their basketball team. Anyway, Carmelo Anthony was a rookie in the NBA after leading the Orangemen of Syracuse to an NCAA championship. I couldn't believe Syracuse had won the national championship right after I (and my father) had left the Cuse. I would have slam dunked to have gotten the chance to see Carmelo Anthony, Hakim Warrick and the Orangemen blow out some other college out of the Carrier Dome. Anyway, I especially went to this game because a lady I really liked was visiting and we both had ties to upstate New York. And ties to West Africa too. Let's say we were both supporting the Denver Nuggets. The Celtics won though. Yeah, I could be happy about that :-)

The next Celtics game I saw was when Boston welcomed the Miami Heat. The Diesel aka Superman aka Shaq was in town together with the Flash aka Dwyane Wade. A good game to go watch with some friends. The Celtics won this one. Another time I went to watch the Celtics play the Phoenix Suns. The Suns won. Eventually, I left Boston for the Bay Area in 2006. By this time, Antoine Walker was winning rings with the Miami Heat, riding on the coattails of Shaq & Wade because seriously, he was going to be driving to the hole much with those two owning the paint and he wasn't going to get enough ill-advised 3 pointers to take. He would get the chance to do more heavily publicized shimmies though. Paul Pierce was languishing in Boston and seeing records like 24-58 with 18 game losing streaks. It was ugly.

After missing out on Tim Duncan to my favorite Western Conference team in 1997, the Celtics had the chance to get Greg Oden in 2007. I said a prayer for the Celtics. Lottery luck wasn't there this year too and the Celtics would draft 5th. Though we'd be missing out on Oden and Kevin Durant, another young stud wouldn't be bad. The Green team packaged the 5th pick (who became Jeff Green) to the Seattle Supersonics for Ray Allen to create a sound environment for Paul Pierce while keeping their top players too. After unsuccessfully getting Kevin Garnett earlier that year, KG accepted a trade to the Celtics from the Minnesota Timberwolves to join Pierce and Allen in exchange for the rest of the Celtics minus one Rajon Rondo guy. I had seen Rajon play in college, I knew he was gonna be special. Others didn't know so. I should be an NBA GM. The Big 3 was born. I was a huge fan of Ray Allen after he played Jesus Shuttlesworth alongside Denzel Washington in "He Got Game". He also owned up to Kobe Bryant a number of teams which I liked. I wasn't a big fan of Kevin Garnett but I felt for him since he hadn't really tasted NBA success. Paul Pierce was the bonafide star that made Boston fans love the Celtics. Can't touch him.

Doc Rivers was coaching them. They had adopted Ubuntu as their mantra. What's not to love? They had taken an African adage and that was their rallying cry. "I am because you are". I was on the wagon and playing drums with this band all the way! Do you know whem it became clear to me that the Celtics would win the whole damn thing in 2008? That was when they had walked into Houston and ended the fairy-tale 22 game winning streak the Rockets were riding (most of it without Yao Ming by the way), then completed a sweep of the Texas three-step by defeating the Dallas Mavericks and defending champions San Antonio Spurs. With serious vim. The kind that Garnett uses to bang his head. Actually, just watch this video. That's how much vim the Celtics had.  These Celtics were good! And this was happening when I had left Boston! Bummer!

After a 66-16 season with the biggest turnaround in wins, the Celtics had homecourt throughout the playoffs. More games for the TD Garden. The Fleet Center days were not that great, so way to liven up the Garden again. They ended up winning the championship, pummeling Kobe and co into submission in the NBA Finals. They had gone through a tough Atlanta Hawks series, made Lebron James wait another year and sent the Detroit Pistons into retirement. Kevin Garnett had emerged Defensive Player of the Year, Ray Allen solidified his status as the best three-point shot maker ever and Paul Pierce won the Finals MVP. I was so ectastic that the Celtics had won! I was a little sad that I hadn't seen them play.

Thanks to a KG injury in 2009, the Celtics didn't make the NBA Finals. It did give birth to a much better and star player in Rajon Rondo though. This was the year (the Chosen One) Lebron James was supposed to win his first title with the Celtics not there to send him fishing. He ended up losing to Dwight Howard aka Mr. Chocolate Shoulders who had no real chance of stopping Kobe Bryant from winning. The 2010 season came with a healthy Celtics squad. They went through the emotions during the regular season and I could sense another NBA Finals for our team. They made it and then disaster struck. Their 5th or 6th best player Kendrick Perkins got injured in the NBA Finals against the Lakers. Why was he important? Because though the Celtics were a really great defensive team, the rebounding without Perkins sucked. I am not sure what had happened to KG. Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum made the Lakers team the best rebounding team in basketball. And so it came to be that Kobe Bryant rode the Lakers' rebounding big men to yet another NBA Finals MVP. Yes, I said it. He did shoot 6-24 in that Game 7. Thank you, Bill Simmons. I remember watching the game 7 in Berkeley, epain me papa!

The Celtics contended in 2011 and 2012 till KG's legs gave away, Paul Pierce became older and Ray Allen jumped ship to the Miami Heat after Boston had tried to trade him 6 or 7 times. This year, the Celtics lost in the first round to the New York Knicks. I never got the chance to watch KG, and Allen on Celtic green. Should this have been the summer to clean out the Big 3 era? Maybe not. Because I can't understand why Paul Pierce had to be traded. He had to retire as a Celtic! The Celtics could have easily reloaded with a couple of great rebounders and a back from injury Rajon Rondo. Danny Ainge just had to mess up this story and anti-climax this whole movie! Anyway, I am happy Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce have joined the Brooklyn Nets, coached by none other than Jason Kidd. I guess I am switching major allegiances back to the Nets, which is fuelled by Russian rubles at the moment. 
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