Historic franchises all have moments that everyone remembers, whether it is a home run from Carlton Fisk, Kirk Gibson, or Rick Monday; a dramatic save from Patrick Roy; a touchdown pass from Joe Montana; or John Havlicek stealing the ball. As a Celtics fan since 1986 (I was 8 years old), I had always felt a little shafted on my Celtics moments. I don't remember them winning game 6 against Houston, but I remember them losing to the Lakers in 1987. I remember Larry Bird's steal against Detroit, his comeback against the Pacers in Game 5 in 1991, and his last hurrah on a Sunday afternoon at home against the Blazers when he scored 49 points in a double OT Celtic win, but no titles, no victory cigars, no "World Champions" t-shirts, just deaths (Len Bias and Reggie Lewis), horrid draft picks (Eric Montross, Joe Forte, Michael Smith, Ron Mercer), and bad trades (Vin Baker, Rodney Rogers). When Red Auerbach passed away, there were so many tributes and talk of the old days, I felt like a fan of those teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have a storied history that is just that, a storied history and nothing recent to show for it (sadly Sid Bream isn't recent anymore). Although the 2002 Celtics had a memorable comeback against New Jersey, it wasn't the same because they still lost the series. Thursday night, June 12, 2008 was my generation's signature Celtics Game.
At the end of the first quarter, I was doing my podcast that I do along with the Celtics games because I hate the announcers, the half times and such, and in basketball many times you can talk about other things throughout the first half. When the Celtics were down 35-14 at the end of the 1st quarter, visions of Game 3 against Cleveland were fresh in my mind. They were about to prove the "pundits" right, this series was going to be tied, Phil Jackson was going to break Red's record (against the Celtics no less), and the polar ice caps might as well have been melting before my eyes. I figured it was over, and I went back to watching the Phillies to relax a little. Jeff, who I do the Vortex with, would keep me updated because he was still watching, and all I needed to hear from him was the groan or sigh to know I had made the right decision. I did not see Jordan Farmar's half ending three pointer, and if I had I would be in the market for a brand new HDTV today. It was 58-40 at the half, the Celtics looked lost, the Lakers looked dominant, and I just felt like a moron for thinking that the Celtics would actually win number 17 in my lifetime. In fact, halfway through the third, the Lakers still had a big lead at times, in fact they were up by 24 at one point. It was going to be a short night, but it turned out to be one of the longer ones in recent memory.
I was following the game through Jeff and online updates. I couldn't bring myself to watch for fear I would be the human jinx, and sure enough when I finally gave in at the beginning of the 4th quarter, Kobe Bryant scored right away and I figured I had soiled the whole thing just by changing the channel. I am glad I didn't turn the dial. It was the single greatest quarter of basketball I have ever seen a Celtics team play. Eddie House, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and James Posey just put on a show for the ages (sorry Jeff) that I will remember until I am on my deathbed. When that final gun sounded, I couldn't help but think of Johnny Most "fiddling and diddling" and his other famous calls, and realized that finally, I had seen something I would be telling my grandkids about. The Boston Celtics had come back from 24 points down, on the road, in front of the biggest group of fair weather fans ever,against the Lakers, good had triumphed over evil, and Kobe Bryant needed a drink or two. You know what Kobe? I needed a drink too, to celebrate, to toast Celtics memories from the past, and the moments yet to come. Generation X finally got their Celtics moment.