Four years since the Celtics won Banner 17


Four years since the Celtics won Banner 17

Yesterday was an enormous day in the world of sports.

We had the final round at the U.S. Open. Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Sox and Cubs at Wrigley. Dale Jr. back in the winners circle. Ladainian Tomlinson calling it quits. Ronaldo on fire. Antonio Cromartie testing the limits of Fathers Day.

It was a trip.

But four years ago yesterday we witnessed an event that trumps all that. An event that locally save for diehard Bruins fans trumps every sports moment in the four years since: Celtics 131, Lakers 92

Banner 17.

Anythiiings Possiiiiblllllle!

Big Baby is George Constanza.

Oh what a night.

In so many ways, its hard to believe that its only been four years since the Celtics were on top of the world. In fact, I was one of the hordes of people who spent most of yesterday thinking it had been five years. But thats not how math works. It's four years. Four years since the Celtics came together like very few teams before them. Since they erased more than 20 years of pain. Since they did it at home, against their most bitter rival. Since the Big 3 era became a complete and unquestionable success.

As we sit here today, theres a general and overwhelming feeling that the Big 3 era is over. Who knows if KG will come back, but from everything we've heard and from everything we can infer, Ray Allen's done in Boston. In which case, thats it. And at that point, we'll continue to ask the question that we have for the last two weeks, and really, for the last four years: Was one title enough?

Answer: YES.

Could they have had more? Of course. And that would have been fantastic. But asking if one was "enough," is like asking a guy who spent 20 years walking five miles to work: "Hey, how many Ferraris would it take to make you happy?" Yes, one was enough. It was always enough.

The fact that the "one" happened so quickly certainly changed our perception of what this team was capable of, but it never altered our expectations. We always looked at a second andor third title as gravy, but nothing necessary. And thank God, because two never came. In fact, "two" was lost in a series of should-have-been soul-crushing defeats. There was KG's injury, and blowing a 3-2 lead to the Magic in 2009. There was blowing a 3-2 lead to the Lakers in 2010. There was Danny Ainge ripping the heart out of the team in 2011, followed by Rondo's elbow injury. There was blowing their third 3-2 lead in four years, two weeks ago in Miami.

That's not to say those losses were void of emotion. They all hurt in their own unique way and will continue to do so forever, but nothing that happened these last four seasons will sting as much as it should. None of it will stain the legacy of the Big 3 as deeply as it could have. That's all because of June 17, 2008. Four years ago yesterday.

It was the only title that this core brought to Boston, but the only one they ever had to.

Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf


Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics will be a bit shorthanded for the first few games of the season with Marcus Smart being out with a left ankle sprain injury.
The Celtics were holding out slim hope that it would heal in time for tomorrow’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smart confirmed a report shortly after the injury on October 19 that it would likely be at least a couple weeks before he returned to action.
Following Tuesday’s practice, one in which Smart watched from the sidelines, he gave an update on his ankle injury which occurred in the Celtics’ last preseason game, a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
“A couple weeks, that’s the projection (of a return) they gave me,” Smart said. “They want to make sure we can limit this from happening again.”
Smart said the two-week timetable began from the time of his injury, which means it’s likely that he will miss the Celtics’ first four games of the season.
That’s a much rosier timetable than the left ankle sprain injury Smart suffered as a rookie which kept him sidelined for several weeks afterwards.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” Smart said. “Better safe than sorry.”
His absence will certainly have an impact on a Celtics defense that ranked among the NBA’s best a year ago, and has only gotten stronger with the addition of Al Horford.
But the Celtics have been a "next man up" team for since Stevens has been the head coach. With Smart out, that’s not going to change.
“That’ll be a great opportunity for someone else to step up in his place,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas echoed similar thoughts.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next man has to step up,” Thomas said. “Guys have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
And for Smart, it’ll mean displaying his leadership skills from the sideline.
He’s totally comfortable taking on that role right now.
For his teammates, it might take a little bit of getting used to. Smart has been very loquacious on the Celtics sideline since suffering the injury.
“These last four days, he has been yelling … I told him to shut up a few times,” quipped Isaiah Thomas. “That’s just him, especially when he’s not playing. He’s very vocal.”
Terry Rozier, the likely benefactor in terms of minutes played due to Smart’s injury, agreed.
“He’s been sitting right there in that seat,” said Rozier, adding, “and he hasn’t shut up yet. It’s good; you’re going to need a guy like that who is going to talk to you. It’s like a guy, he says things … it’s like he’s been in the league 10 years. He knows his stuff.”
Smart’s knowledge bank includes understanding that his current injury will probably happen again at some point. The key isn’t dealing with the injury, but how you move forward from it.
“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last,” Smart said. “I just have to let it heal on its own and let your body do what it does.”

Celtics pay tribute to Craig Sager in Tuesday's practice


Celtics pay tribute to Craig Sager in Tuesday's practice

The NBA is honoring longtime TNT broadcaster Craig Sager to begin the season, with teams wearing Sager-themed shirts across the league. 

Sager, 65, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2014, and it was announced in March that he had an expected three-to-six months to live. 

The Celtics celebrated Sager in full force at the end of Tuesday’s practice, changing into shirts with multi-colored flowers and clashing patterns in an ode to Sager’s signature style. The group gathered for pictures and shouted “Sager Strong,” a hashtag that’s circulated in support of the 65-year-old. 

After news emerged that his cancer had returned in March, TNT worked out a deal with ABC that allowed Sager to cover the NBA Finals for the first time in his 34-year career, leading to a memorable exchange with LeBron James after the Cavaliers won the NBA title.