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ST. ANDREW'S NET: BEWARE OF BATTED BALLS

They Are the Champions

By 06.18.08
IMAGE DESCRIPTIONKevin Garnett: Certified

Nobody — no expert, casual fan, or anyone in between — who predicted the Celtics would win the 2008 NBA championship was going out on a limb, so we don’t feel a need to search the Smack archives for some prescient quote from the preseason. The way Boston played last night, absolutely demolishing the Lakers in Game 6 to clinch the title, was the way we all envisioned this team playing from the time Kevin Garnett sat down with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen at that post-trade press conference last summer. After withstanding a hot Kobe Bryant in the first quarter, the Celtics dominated every facet of the game thereafter, led by KG (26 pts, 14 rebs, 3 stls) playing the kind of hair-on-his-chest game we’ve been waiting for since the Finals began. The dagger: Garnett’s floating, twisting, one-hand and-one that put Boston up by 21 in the final minute of the first half. The explosion you heard from the Boston crowd when that happened was a collective “FINALLY!” They’ve been waiting for Big Ticket to come through with a moment like that, where they could lose their minds, all postseason long. From there it was just a matter of time until the clock hit all zeros and the Celtics and the city of Boston could celebrate … How amazing and insane was KG in the post-game? Incoherently screaming to his Moms and everyone else he’s ever met in his life, spitting all over Michelle Tafoya, bursting into tears a few times, screaming “ANYTHING IS POSSIBUUUUUULLLLLLL!!!” and damn near fainting as Leon Powe reassured him, “I got you! I got you!” We always wondered how Garnett would react if he ever won the championship, and somehow he still managed to exceed our expectations … Finals MVP Paul Pierce didn’t have his best game (17 pts, 10 asts, 4-for-13 FG’s), but over the course of the series you couldn’t give the trophy to anyone else. Does this definitely certify Pierce as a Hall of Famer? Is he going to have his #34 retired in Boston? We say “Yes” and “Yes” … Did you see when Doc Rivers took the Big Three out of the game with about 3:30 remaining and Kobe was standing right there by the C’s bench, having to see and hear the whole thing? Is he going to use that as motivation for next year? … Kobe hit his first three shots of the first quarter — two treys and a long two-pointer — just barely missed his fourth attempt (another three), then stuck his next shot from beyond the arc. Long story short, seven minutes into the game Kobe had his s***-eating “I’m better than all of you” grin going and it looked like we were definitely headed for a Game 7. Seeing Kobe off to a hot start like that might have sparked 5.2 million “KOBE’S GOING FOR 70!!!” text messages amongst Lakers fans, and forced the TD Banknorth Garden concierge to call in an order for 20,000 pairs of new pants. If only Pau Gasol and/or Lamar Odom had decided to show up during that stretch, the Lakers would have been up big early … Kobe didn’t start cooling off until Doc put in James Posey, whose solitary job was to stop the avalanche from coming. After Posey started making him work for open looks, Kobe was officially no longer in a groove when he short-armed two straight jumpers midway through the second quarter and L.A. fell behind by double-digits. Boston was cutting off his drives all night, too, so Kobe (22 pts, 7-for-22 FG’s) absolutely needed to stay knocking down those J’s if the Lakers were gonna have a chance. As it stood, L.A. shot 8-for-27 in the first half and totally fell apart in the second quarter. Their second half performance was just pathetic, embarrassing, and something that’s going to haunt Kobe for the next 12 months until he can try to get another shot at a ‘chip … In fact, watching what happened to Kobe and the Lakers last night was reminiscent of one of Mike Tyson‘s fights later in his career, in particular the Lennox Lewis fight. Tyson would come out in the first round looking to take his man’s head off or simply intimidate his man into wilting, but if that didn’t happen — if someone like Lennox took his best punches and stood up to that opening assault — reality soon set in for Mike that he was simply not as good of a fighter as the guy in front of him. That was the Lakers on Tuesday, and the Celtics have now forced them to fade into bolivian … Overheard from one member of the Dime crew: “If someone who didn’t know anything about basketball was watching this, they’d be like, ‘Why was that guy the MVP?'” Hint: they weren’t talking about Pierce … After KG, Boston’s best player was Rajon Rondo (21 pts, 7 rebs, 8 asts, 6 stls). He started out shooting horribly, but compensated by being a demon on defense and pushing the pace offensively. One time Rondo flew past Luke Walton so fast that all Luke could do was feebly stick his arm out trying to grab his jersey or anything to slow him down … Speaking of Luke, can you imagine his phone call to Bill Walton last night, as Bill is pretending to feel bad for him while trying to quietly dance around the room and smooch his Larry Bird posters? … Ray Allen was also a beast, dropping 26 points and 7 triples. When Ray got poked in the eye in the first half, you know somebody in the ABC production truck started screaming “Get an X-Mo of that! Get an X-Mo!” We’re glad they’re starting to use it more for actual game action and not just drawn-out shots of KG cursing. And cue the Lakers’ fans accusing Ray of faking/milking the eye injury just for the standing O he got when he came back … How bad were Odom (14 pts, 10 rebs, 5 asts) and Gasol (11 pts, 8 rebs, 5 turnovers) that Doc felt comfortable enough playing Powe and Big Baby at the same time as his big-man combo? And don’t be fooled by L.O.’s decent stat line; he didn’t do ANYTHING until it was already garbage time. Odom reached a point in this series where he could be going coast-to-coast with the ball — which should be a scary thing if you’re on the other team — and L.A. was hoping he would just pass it before something bad happened … Random thought during the broadcast video intro: Since Michael Jordan‘s immortal shot against the Lakers in ’91 came when Cliff Levingston found MJ cutting to the basket, does that mean Cliff Levingston has the most famous assist in Finals history? … Good thing the series ended when it did, because ABC was clearly out of ideas for halftime features. And when you consider the teams and players involved in this series, that’s really unacceptable. The montage of “Wired” clips was OK at best, and definitely not jaw-dropping as Stu Scott promised. Although Andrew did point out that in Doc’s pre-game/halftime speeches, you can see he usually seems to convey the intensity and urgency of the moment much better than Phil Jackson … We know we’re not the only ones who spotted Kevin Duckworth in the “NBA Cares” ad that ran in the third quarter. E-mail from Austin: “I remember when I was little I was watching a Blazers game and they had a halftime feature on Kevin Duckworth. The point of the story, from what I recall, was to get us to feel sorry for him because people made fun of his name. There was one dramatic moment where he looked into the camera all sad-eyed and said, ‘What is a duck worth?’ remembering how kids used to clown him at school.” … Another memorable moment from the Celtics’ celebration: P.J. Brown double-fisting Bud Lights in the locker room, dancing and pouring them on shorter people … Finally, soon after the game we got the pic posted below e-mailed to us from Jed, the Dime crew’s most outwardly passionate Celtics fan, with the line, “Got it for my wedding. Drinking it for a championship.” … We’re out like the season …

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