Boston Celtics

Four years since the Celtics won Banner 17

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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 rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

NBA adds 'Harden Rule' and 'Zaza Rule' for players' safety

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NBA adds 'Harden Rule' and 'Zaza Rule' for players' safety

NEW YORK - NBA referees will be able to call flagrant or technical fouls on defenders who dangerously close on jump shooters without allowing them space to land, as Zaza Pachulia did on the play that injured Spurs star Kawhi Leonard in last season's playoffs.

Officials will also make sure jump shooters are in their upward shooting motion when determining if a perimeter foul is worthy of free throws, which could cut down on James Harden's attempts after he swings his arms into contact.

The new rules interpretations are being unofficially called the "Harden Rule" and the "Zaza Rule". The Washington Wizards accused the Celtics' Al Horford of a dangerous closeout on Markieff Morris that injured Morris and knocked him out of Game 1 of their playoff series two weeks before the Pachulia-Leonard play.

Leonard sprained his ankle when Pachulia slid his foot under Leonard's in Game 1 of Golden State's victory in the Western Conference finals. After calling a foul, officials will now be able to look at a replay to determine if the defender recklessly positioned his foot in an unnatural way, which could trigger an upgrade to a flagrant, or a technical if there was no contact but an apparent attempt to injure.

"It's 100 percent for the safety of the players," NBA senior vice president of replay and referee operations Joe Borgia said Thursday.

The NBA had made the freedom to land a point of emphasis for officials a few years ago, because of the risk of injuries. 

Officials can still rule the play a common foul if they did not see a dangerous or unnatural attempt by the defender upon review. Borgia said Pachulia's foul would have been deemed a flagrant.

With the fouls on the perimeter shots - often coming when the offensive player has come off a screen and quickly attempts to launch a shot as his defender tries to catch up - officials will focus on the sequencing of the play. The player with the ball must already be in his shooting motion when contact is made, rather than gathering the ball to shoot such as on a drive to the basket.

"We saw it as a major trend in the NBA so we had to almost back up and say, `Well, wait a minute, this is going to be a trend, so let's catch up to it,"' NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell said.