Should the Boston Celtics win tonight – as well they should, as they are six point favorites – they will have matched their win total from last year.
Yes, that’s right. Not even halfway through the season – basically two months actually – the Celtics will have won just as many games as they did all of last year.
That’s quite the turnaround and that’s why they are the sports story of the year.
In a year that has more then it’s share of stories, ranging from Appalachian State’s upset of Michigan and the dramatic finish in the Fiesta Bowl, that weren't as big as this.
Lebron James taking over in game six of the Eastern Finals to the continuing disaster at Madison Square Garden weren't this powerful.
The rise of Sidney Crosby to the Senators’ epic collapse at the Scotiabank Centre haven't created as much talk as this.
Even the damning Mitchell Report and a biblical plague of bugs at Jacob Field aren’t as insane as this.
Think about it: a team to seemingly improve from worst to first, is pretty hard to begin with.
But to do it almost overnight is something else.
You don’t even have to like the Celtics to respect the move they made. Sure, they may have traded away a couple solid youngsters. And yes, should Kevin Garnett go down, they could be in serious trouble.
But right now, the Celtics have lost only three games, by far the least in the league. Their duo forwards of Paul Pierce, and Garnett have dominated the frontcourt, while both Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo have quietly become one of the best guard combinations in the league, with Rondo setting career highs in points, assists and shooting percentage along the way.
Perhaps their season is best described by John Hollenger’s playoff odds machine on ESPN.com. The Celtics are projected to have as follows:
- a 100 per cent chance of making the playoffs - a 100 per cent chance of winning their division - a 96.6 per cent chance of finishing first overall in the east - a 68 per cent chance of making the NBA Finals - a 63 per cent chance of winning the NBA title
They lead the final three categories by wide, wide margins. No other teams in the NBA have odds that good to finish first, make the finals or win the NBA title.
This is an insane turnaround from last season, when the Celtics went 24-58, finishing last in their conference and their division. In a year where two young kids, Greg Oden and Kevin Durant, were phenomenal college athletes and were eligible for the draft, the Celtics were widely criticized for tanking to improve their lottery odds.
However, things almost always even out in the NBA, and those two rookies went to Portland and Seattle, respectively, two teams that finished ahead of Boston.
Boston’s GM Danny Ainge then worked some trade magic. On June 27, he traded away Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak their fifth overall pick – Jeff Green – to Seattle for Allen. On August 1, he traded away five players and two picks to Minnesota for Garnett. Before even the preseason started, they were already the favorites for the title.
Think about – from worst to first. From one of their worst records ever, some ten years since they won only 15 games, to one of their best ever starts.
If that’s not the story of the year, then I don’t know what is.
But that’s just me. What do you think the sports story of the year is?