Back to the Finals


Back to the Finals

By Rich Levine

Spend some time today thinking about Game Seven.

It doesnt have to be a long time. But whatever it is, just make sure you remember how it felt.

I dont care if you only last 30 seconds, you MUST remember Game Seven . . .

And when you wake up on Saturday morning, fire up those memories again. And get ready for Sunday afternoon.

Thats when the Celtics and Lakers meet for the first time since that awful night in June, and while I think most of us have done a pretty great job of supressing those memories, on Sunday, theres no escape.

Basically, from the moment their coverage starts, ABC will paint the picture of Game Seven and the 2010 Finals in general and cram it down your throat. Theres going to be endless references and non-stop reminders. Fully produced video packages. In the two seconds its taken you to read this sentence, Mark Jackson has mentioned Game Seven twelve times. Magic Johnsons probably wearing a 2010 NBA Champions t-shirt on air.

You can imagine how that's going to feel.

And even if they never say a word, even if you watch this game on mute, youll still feel it. Its impossible to see these two teams on that floor and not have immediate flashback to the Finals.

But hey, that comes with the territory, I guess. Its one of the few lasting consequences of that crushing loss. Every time these two teams play or at least every time until the Cs somehow even the score Game Seven will be haunting.

Obviously, its something you deal with, because its CelticsLakers. Theyre still the best two games of the season. Nothing can match the energy, excitement, history and hype that come with this rivalry. Its always going to be special.

But right now, theres just a slight defect.

It's still great, but there are going to be some harsh moments.

It's like if a studio digitally remastered your favorite movie to feature random clips of your mailman singing naked in the shower.

But worse than that.

Either way, Game Seven was about as disturbing as they come. And really, we should know.

When you think back to each Boston team's most recent playoff appearance, all have ended in similar tragedy.

In 2009, Jonathan Papelbon blew a two-run lead in the ninth to end the season against the Angels. In 2010, the Bruins choked away a 3-0 lead to Philly. In 2011, the Patriots rolled over against the Jets. Throw in the C's and thats four epic failures.

Its been a carousel of swift punches to the gut, followed by lead pipes to the shin, and fastballs to the skull. Its been a painful stretch.

But still, nothings worse than what happened to the Celtics.

Obviously, it affects every fan differently. Some dont care about the Cs as much as they do the Bruins or Pats, so what happened in L.A. doesnt feel as tragic. But if youre looking on paper, if you lose all bias, its not even close.

In 2009, the Sox were already down 2-0, and already running on empty.

The Pats' loss was so painful because wed already sent them to Dallas; never even considered theyd fall to the Jets. But even if theyd won, there were still the Steelers and the Packers. There was a lot of work left.

Same with the Bruins, who obviously lose major points for the historically embarrassing way they went down. But that was only the conference semifinals. They still had a long way to go before hoisting the Cup.

The Celtics had 20 minutes and a 13-point lead.

Thats all that stood between them and the title. And for a bunch of guys on that team, it went far beyond just one title. It meant everything.

And they let it slip away.

To the Lakers.

Its not something anyone enjoys thinking about, but on Sunday there wont be a choice.

So why not ease into the boiling water instead of waiting to be pushed?

Game Seven. It happened. Let's just get it out there now.

And not let Stuart Scott and friends ruin an amazing Sunday.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Rondo says he will not play tonight

Rondo says he will not play tonight

Rajon Rondo, out with a fractured right thumb, will not play for the Chicago Bulls against the Celtics tonight in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series at TD Garden, according to multiple reports.

The series is tied at 2.

Rondo, the Bulls point guard who played the first two game of the series, was reportedly going to try and test the thumb tonight but told reporters Wednesday morning he couldn’t play. 

Game 6 is Friday in Chicago. Game 7, if necessary, is Sunday in Boston.  Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg called Rondo's return a "longshot."

More to come. 

POLITICO sees Epstein as potential savior for Democrats

POLITICO sees Epstein as potential savior for Democrats

A piece that ran on POLITICO Wednesday morning explored an interesting possibility: A potential political career for longtime baseball executive Theo Epstein. 

The piece, titled “Could Theo Epstein Perform a Miracle for the Democrats?” comes a month after Fortune magazine ranked the Cubs president of baseball operations No. 1 on its annual ranking of the world’s greatest leaders. In the POLITICO article, Ben Strauss, in addition to noting the 43-year-old’s accomplishments with the Red Sox and Cubs, hits on several instances in which Epstein’s leadership has been mentioned in relation to politics. 

Strauss then goes on to interview CNN senior political commentator (and Cubs fan) David Axelrod about whether Epstein could be a saving grace with “Democrats on the lookout for a new generation of talent.”

The interview sees both POLITICO and Axelrod compare Epstein to Barack Obama. Says Axelrod: 

They both have two kinds of intelligence: emotional intelligence and a more linear intelligence. They both have the self-confidence to surround themselves with very smart people. Theo’s had a core group around him (general manager Jed Hoyer and head of amateur scouting Jason McLeod) since the beginning in Boston. It’s striking how much he relishes smart people around him and has the confidence to be challenged...Obama had it, too. I would add that Epstein has learned on the job. In Boston he was a pioneer [in using statistical analysis]...He’s told me that he used to be dismissive of the touchy-feely stuff [in evaluating baseball players], but now his scouts write five-page essays about the guys they’re going to draft. In the same way, Obama would tell you he was a better president at the end of eight years than at the beginning. He was smart enough to learn on the job, too.

Asked whether Epstein could win a statewide race for governor or Senate in Illinois, Axelrod replied, “Yeah, he could,” but questions whether Epstein has “the desire to hold public office.”

“I think Theo would be frustrated in public office because of the situation he’s in now,” Axelrod said. “He basically has free rein to do what he needs to do for the success of the organization. That is not the case in politics—you’re seeing that with the governor in Illinois (Bruce Rauner) right now. You have to deal with legislatures and all kinds of public stakeholders. And if you’re used to making things happen, I’m not sure the Senate would be a particularly satisfying job for you. When I talked to him on my podcast...about what he might want to do next...he allowed that he might want to own a team sometime and use that team or use that platform to try to impact on a community. He clearly cares about the larger world and wants to make an impact...But there are many, many reasons I think Cubs fans can relax and enjoy the benefits of his leadership for many years to come.”