Last night an incredible basketball season ended with the Celtics completely decimating the Lakers - a 6 game finals where Kobe showed little of his expected greatness and a playoffs where many war-torn veterans that became the '08 Celtics showed what it is to put your heart into winning.
I have a hard time rooting for Boston teams - mostly because the fans can be infuriating, and going to college in Boston when you're not a Boston sports fan can be painful. Plus, its hard to think the city deserves more, after the recent string of Red Sox and Patriots. Also there are a lot of reasons the players on the Celtics should drive me crazy - Pierce and Iverson went toe to toe for several years, Ray Allen was on the '01 Bucks when Carl accused the NBA of cheating to make the Sixers a feel good series, and Cassel I flat out don't like (for his part on the Bucks as well).
But watching Garnett, Allen, and Pierce over the last month has been inspiring in terms of heart in sports, and all of them deserve a title in their career. Garnett fought so hard for the Timberwolves when they had nothing, and Pierce fought so hard for the Celtics through thick and thin - loyalty to a city and a team is rare in modern sports and you have to respect it when it's there. Bill Simmons captures the feeling when we watched Paul Pierce during the playoffs, from his smile at the free-throw line during the early round, to his roar holding up the trophy at the end, and you just have to respect and feel a little bit of love towards him today:
"We watched that guy grow up. We watched him become a man. We believed
in him, we gave up on him, and we believed in him again. I don't mean
to sound like the old man in "Pretty Woman," but part of me wanted to
walk on the court Tuesday night and just tell Pierce, "It's hard for me
to say this without sounding condescending, but I'm proud of you." The
guy gave us everything he had, altered his NBA tombstone, earned a
place in the rafters and brought us a 17th title -- just like he
promised, by the way -- and his sterling play in Games 4 and 5 ranks
among the all-time greatest Celtic performances. We spend so much time
complaining about sports and being disappointed that our favorite
players never end up being who we wanted them to be, but in Pierce's
case, he became everything we wanted him to be. When he held up
the Finals MVP trophy after the game and screamed to the crowd in
delight, I don't think I've ever been happier for a Boston athlete. How
many guys stick with a crummy franchise for 10 solid years, then get a
chance to lead that same team to a championship? Does that EVER happen
in sports anymore?"