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Happy Ubuntu!

In the Season 5 episode of The Office titled “Broke” Micheal Scott said “There are certain defining moments in a person’s life. The day he is born. The day he grows hair. The day he starts a business. And the day he sells that business back to Dunder Mifflin.” Well I would like to add another life defining moment to that list- the day his favorite basketball team wins the first championship of his lifetime. 

Sunday June 17th marked the 10 year anniversary of the Banner 17. The 2008 Celtics are one of my all time favorite Boston sports teams and one of the best teams in NBA history. So to commemorate this special occasion I thought we could go over some of the best moments from that season but in a different way. It would be too easy to say that the best moments are the sweep of the Texas Triangle, the Pierce/Lebron duel, The Greatest Comeback In NBA Finals History, or the total annihilation of Kobe and the Lakers in Game 6. I remember a lot of moments from this season. Random games, random moments so I thought I would touch on that as we look back on the Ubuntu Celtics.

Let’s start in the preseason shall we? We all know how the Celts traveled overseas and bonded and became a true team. That first preseason game was probably the most anticipated preseason game in Celtics history. Just to see Pierce, KG, and Ray Allen together on the court made it must see television. I’ll never forget the first basket I saw Kevin Garnett score as a Celtic. He got the ball on the right block and spun baseline and threw down a reverse dunk for an And 1. After the bucket the whole team and the bench, especially Eddie House, yelled and celebrated and screamed like it was the play that won the championship. They played that whole preseason like it was the playoffs. Diving on the floor for loose balls, especially Garnett. The way they played, you were afraid they would run out of gas by the end of the year. It was definitely a little crazy, but it benefitted them in the long run. 

Opening night was epic. Gilbert Arenas was years ahead of the curve as he called the Celtics “old”, something that would keep being brought back up even thought the Celtics kept proving the doubters wrong over the next four years. Pierce unveiled that the court was named after Red Auerbach, and the team debuted the now iconic intro video of highlights from the Celtics team capped off with KG screaming right in everyone’s face as The Garden exploded. KG threw up a 22 point and 20 rebound game and when he Pierce were subbed out together, he threw his arm around Pierce and looked to the crowed, help up his index finger, and said “That’s one”. They would go onto win their first 8 games and homecourt advantage seemed like it was clinched by Christmas.

A few other games stick out from that year. In their third game,  the Denver Nuggets came to town led by Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony. The Celtics proceeded to destroy them. They hung up 77 points and only gave up 38 in the first half capped off by Pierce stealing the ball at half court and throwing a lob to Garnett which he threw down with one hand. In three games they already looked like they had all played together for a decade. That game it really seemed like they could win 70 or more games. They were that good. Another dominating game was vs the New York Knicks at home on TNT when they held the Knicks to 59 points for the entire game. 59! New York had 3 points until 6:45 to go in the first quarter. The Celtics didn’t let up either. I remember KG screaming Perk on from the bench after Perk had swatted somebody. A truly dominating 48 minutes of basketball the likes of which I hadn’t seen before this team. 

They didn’t always blow people out however. They also stole a few games along the way to 66 wins. One that comes to mind was the game in Charlotte against the then Bobcats. The Bobcats were up 2 and got the stop they needed with 4 seconds left and started celebrating early but they still had the inbound the ball. Hilariously they broke every rule in the book when trying to inbound on the sideline. They kept all 5 of their players on the same side of the court and that meant it was going to be next to impossible to inbound the ball to someone with everyone all bunched up. My man, Eddie House tipped the inbounding pass, Pierce snagged out of the air and found Ray Allen who buried the game winner. Ray, who had shot awful all game, hit what was to become many big shots in his Celtics career, and was carried off the court by Big Baby Glen Davis while the rest of the team celebrated around them. Bonus hilarity points to Celtics sideline reporter Greg Dickerson for trying to jump in the pile and celebrate with the team. Although there’s a 100 percent chance I would’ve tried the same thing.

We also saw the making of a future star this season in Rajon Rondo. I will always be a big Rondo guy. He’s probably the most unique player in NBA history. He’s the point guard that can’t shoot but can grab 18 rebounds in a game. He can totally own a game without scoring a single point. He’s one of the best big game players I have ever seen. 2008 was before he was all grown up and would go toe to toe with LeBron and outplay him in a couple playoff series. This is still when he was the little brother to the Big 3 and all the fans thought he was a mute because we never heard him say a word. This is before he developed his little rivalry with Ray Allen that is still going on today. This year though, is when he developed the move and started to show off what is affectionately called “The Rondo”. It’s the move where he’s driving to his right,  cups the ball with those freakishly long arms and big hands, fakes behind his back, totally jukes out the defender, and calmly lays the ball. I don’t remember the exact moment he pulled this move out but I do know that this was the year it was born.

This was a team of Alpha Dogs and big personalities led by the ultimate Alpha Dog with a big personality. I’m talking about The Big Ticket, Kevin Garnett. When he was traded here, he lit the city on fire. This was during a Boston Sports period when the Red Sox were on their way to the World Series and the Patriots were marching towards 16-0 (Don’t get me started on how that Pats season ended though). It felt like KG was the biggest story in the city. The Celtics were down for so long and then KG came and became the best player the Celtics had gotten since Larry Bird. Anyone that followed basketball knew he was an all time player, being a multi time All Star and a former MVP of the league but we didn’t know the totality of what he brought. Paul Pierce was the captain but KG was the engine that made everything run. The defense, the rebounding, the standard that he held everyone to, the chest bumping, the trash talk, the maniac, insane intensity that he played with. His tip off routine is epic when he would start banging his head on the padding under the hoop, dap up the bench, throw powder, fist bump the other players on the court, and then pound his chest and scream at the fans while the place would go crazy. I haven’t seen a player have a connection instantly to a fan base like KG and Celtics fans. Whenever he screamed, we screamed. Whenever he pounded his chest, we pounded ours. Kevin Garnett was made to play in Boston and Boston was made to root for a player like him.

The 2008 Celtics are credited for being the first super team of this new era of basketball. Three superstars join together to win a title so I guess you can thank them for LeBron going to the Heat and Kevin Durant singing with Golden State. They don’t get their due historically because they struggled on the road in playoffs going only 3-12 but just know they are one of the best teams in NBA history. They won 66 games and have a point differential of 10.2. Personally this title meant a lot because I am a huge Celtics fan. They were the first team I remember as a kid and I grew up on old Larry Bird tapes and would always stop what I was doing to watch a classic Celtics game on NBA Tv or ESPN Classic. I could go on and on about this team. Paul Pierce growing up and finally becoming the champion and a true Celtic. Whenever I see a clip of him holding that Finals MVP trophy I always get goosebumps. The 2008 Celtics ended a 22 year title drought, brought back Celtic Pride, and ultimately taught us that anything is possible. Happy anniversary. Ubuntu.

Follow me on Twitter, @BJSHEA33

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