From the Booth - The Noble Chase
The Noble Chase
The answer was no.
Didn't take long either, it wasn't like I had to think about it.
The question, of course, was whether I'd be willing to blog this season.
A concept that's become as empty as it onomatopoetically correct.
I shared my thoughts on blogging during my Summer League cameo here on Celtics.com (see July 12). And although I spent that week in the desert spitting out as many ellipses-filled thoughts as I could, one must above all else, be true to one's self. And for me, that means complete sentences.
Here's what I mean: I spent much of this summer trying to learn how to text message. Perhaps it was the electronic peer pressure of the decade in which we live, or more likely a desperate attempt to relate to those, shall we say, a little younger than myself. Either way, yeah, not a good fit.
I mean, it would take me like an hour and half to type a text message on my cell phone, because I'm writing complete sentences. Then you get one back like "B4 U go, pls cl me, tks." I thought I was playing bingo, or Electronic Battleship.
And so From the Booth is back, and like Hermie the Dentist (Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, people, you know who I'm talking about. Remember the elf who didn't want to make toys like all the other elfs so he followed his own voice and studied dentistry?), or Jonathan Papelbon's Riverdance, you have to dance to the music you hear.
Nothing against those who blog, or as I like to call it, McWrite. But it occurs to me a season is about to begin in Celtics Nation, and that deserves all the 25-cent words and complete sentences we can muster.
We've waited a very long time.
Often times, the chase for championship begins quietly.
A draft pick here, a free-agent signing there. A mid-season trade that gets buried in the agate type of the transactions column while the rest of the sports world is busy paying attention to something else. And that's just as well. There are so many hurdles on the way to that end, inevitable tweaks and growing pains as the chase is fine tuned. Who needs those first steps instantly beamed around the country and micro-analyzed?
But November 2, from Game One, from Minute One, the Celtics will enjoy no such anonymity.
Every move will be chronicled. Every win, every loss. Every step, every misstep, will be taken under the brightest of lights.
Luminous Times: The Celtics haven't uncorked the champagne in 21 years.
To say this has been a remarkable week, a remarkable decade, a remarkable era in Boston sports, is to state a truly historical obvious.
Fifteen years ago, it was hard to describe just how irrelevant the New England Patriots had become. It was hard, in fact, to describe anything about the Patriots at all because their games weren't on television half the time. Now, after three Super Bowl wins, and in the midst of an unprecedented fall of NFL dominance, they're living a dynasty the magnitude of which we'll need decades to truly appreciate.
They are the best team in football.
The only way to top that would be to make what once was an impossible dream now an expected reality. Sunday night in Denver, the Red Sox, who tested the outer emotional limits of their faithful for eight and half decades, won their second World Series in four years.
They are the best team in baseball.
There is then, one remaining piece of business.
To return basketball's most storied franchise, the NBA's original monarchy, to the throne.
Friday night, that quest, and the most anticipated Celtics season in two decades, begins.
There have been more than a few references in town this week to 1986. A special time around here without question. The Patriots first Super Bowl appearance, the Sox' return to the Series and of course, the last Celtics championship. One of the most overlooked, yet convenient aspects of human nature, is our ability to remember the past as being better than perhaps it really was. 1986 was a special time; it was all of those things.
But it was also the year of Buckner. The year of the Chicago Bears. And the year of Len Bias.
On June 18th, 1986, weeks after one of the great teams in NBA history secured banner number 16 for the Garden rafters, Len Bias died. There no doubt have been more senseless tragedies in our lives, even bigger wastes of God-given talent, and lost potential of what truly could, should and would have been.
But when you hear the name and think back to that darkest of nights, it's seems impossible to think of one.
No one knew it at the time, but that night launched a twenty-one-year plague of Murphy's Law on a franchise that quite simply had been the gold standard of professional sports around the world.
A symphony of bad choices, bad breaks and colossally bad karma, it was the famine that followed a thirty-year feast.
It may have seemed like a nightmare, from Bird's back, to Reggie, to the 1997 bounce of a ping pong ball so cruel, the puppet masters decided to repeat it ten years later. It may have seemed like a nightmare. But it all really happened.
But this summer wasn't a dream, it all really happened, too. Ray Allen, James Posey, Eddie House, Scot Pollard, they're all here in an unprecedented influx of veterans single-minded in their professionalism and purpose, answering the prayers of a long-suffering captain who bleeds for a ring.
And oh yeah right, that other guy is here too.
You've seen a month of preseason games. You've seen the culture change. Believe me now?
Logic, the experts and the odds all say this season won't end with a championship in Boston. But that most noble of chases begins in earnest. And it begins now. Not in anonymity, not with a whimper but with a spectacular bang, and everyone's watching.
For the last three months, we've seen Boston go from outpost to epicenter of the new NBA season. ESPN's already been here; TNT and ABC will follow. Sports Illustrated, USA Today, Hoops, Slam, you name it, the Celtics are on the cover.
The Boston Celtics aren't just back in the NBA.
They're the Boston Celtics again.
Buckle up. The ride you've been waiting two decades for is about to begin.
FOR THE GEEK SIDE OF YOUR BRAIN...
** Lucky Charm: At the end of their first quarter together at TD Banknorth Garden October 17 against New York, Kevin Garnett had 7 points. Paul Pierce had 7 points. And Ray Allen had 7 points. Would have been a good time for that Foxwoods half-court shot, huh?
** The Celtics first two home games (November 2 against Washington and November 7 against Denver) feature two of the top Celtic-killers of the last decade in Gilbert Arenas and Allen Iverson. Iverson didn't play on Causeway Street last year, his last appearance was in March of 2006. But his 47-point explosion in 2002 was the TD Banknorth Garden record until Paul Pierce's career-high 50 four years later. Two of the others on this list, Kobe Bryant and Shaq, both make Garden appearances later this month. (If you're wondering, for the last 50-point game recorded against the Celtics, you have to go back to Hakeem Olajuwon's 51 in January of 1996. Latrell Sprewell, you may recall, missed two free throws at the end of regulation, either of which would have given him 50 and the Knicks the win. Instead, Antoine Walker banked a three to send the game to overtime where the Celtics scored the 102-93 win at MSG on December 11, 2001. Little wonder Spree had trouble feeding his family.)
** So Paul Pierce holds the TD Banknorth Garden scoring record. Any idea who holds the building's block record? Yeah, I thought it was Theo Ratliff, too. Former Celtic Theo Ratliff that is. (Just wanted to see if you were paying attention.) The real answer is, wait for it...Kevin Garnett. The Ticket had eight blocks against the C's in his second Boston appearance, in January of 1997. There have been seven seven-block games by the way, including two by the inimitable Mr. Ratliff.
You can hear the voice of the Celtics, Sean Grande along with Cedric Maxwell call each and every game on the WEEI Celtics Radio Network. You can send him