Boston's Fight Would Make Valvano Proud

NEW YORK – Jim Valvano once famously said, “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.”

The late North Carolina State basketball coach would certainly be proud to watch the current version of the Boston Celtics.

Six weeks into the season, not giving up has been the M.O. of these Celtics. No matter how much time may be left on the clock, and no matter how many points they may trail by, there will be no quit in this Boston team.

Jeff Green puts home a layup against Brooklyn

Jeff Green, who scored 19 points during Tuesday's loss, is one of many Celtics who refuse to give up in any game.
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

“We want to fight until the buzzer goes off,” Avery Bradley told Celtics.com. “That’s our motto.”

That motto was on full display, yet again, Tuesday night in Brooklyn.

Boston fell behind the Nets by as many as 17 points in the second half and trailed by 10 points with 3:04 remaining in the contest. Despite that tall mountain they were faced with climbing, the Celtics never thought about quitting. Not for one second.

“We’re a fighting team,” said Bradley. “We felt like we still had a chance to win the game with two minutes left. We wanted to fight until the buzzer went off.”

And so they did. It took just 71 seconds for the Celtics to slice Brooklyn’s lead in half. Jordan Crawford began the run by putting home a driving layup, and then Brandon Bass scored three straight points to bring the score to 96-91.

Boston’s comeback bid eventually came up short, but that doesn’t change the fact that it battled until the final whistle. Again.

We say again because this isn’t a new thing for this season’s Celtics. They’ve done it over and over again since the preseason began in early October. Don’t act like you don’t remember Oct. 9, when the Celtics battled back from a 23-point, fourth-quarter deficit against the Knicks. They nearly won that game, a preseason tilt that meant nothing, because they refused to give up.

Some would tend to believe that such a mindset stems from the leadership of a team’s head coach. That belief may be accurate in many cases, but Boston’s head coach, Brad Stevens, feels differently about this particular group.

“When you’re the player, you decide how you’re going to play night in and night out,” Stevens said. “We’ve got guys who are willing to compete, so I like that.”

Who wouldn’t? Coaches around the league must be envious of Boston’s first-year coach. He has a team made up of young players who bring it every second of every game, regardless of the circumstance. You just don’t find that very often in the NBA, as Jeff Green acknowledged after Tuesday’s defeat.

“It’s very special,” Green said. “We always give ourselves a chance to win games, and no matter how much time is left, we’re going to fight until the end.”

Maybe that’s because this team is as blue collar as it gets at this level. The Celtics bring the proverbial lunch pail to work every day.

“We want to be one of those teams that are consistent at [playing hard every night], kind of like somebody being a hard worker, and that’s a talent,” Bradley said. “We want to bring that to the table every single night.”

Bradley then pointed out a harsh reality, but followed it up with a refreshing declaration.

“We know we aren’t as talented as every other team,” he said, “but we know that we can work harder than every other team. That’s our thing.”

Those words would be music to any coach’s ears, especially Valvano’s. He told us all not to give up – not to ever give up – and the Celtics are proud of the fact that they never will.