You can't get wrapped up in yesterday when tomorrows all that matters.
I think I heard that once in an Oasis song. Or maybe it was Kanye. Or maybe it was whispered sweetly into Rachel McAdams' ear during some awful romantic comedy. Or maybe it was something Michael Caine said at the end of Mr. Destiny. Or maybe I just made it up.
OK, I made it up. But the words ring true on this absolutely beautiful and completely miserable Friday afternoon.
Lets face it: Yesterday was tough. Yesterday was impossible.
Yesterday was a reminder of how helpless the Celtics are, and the entire NBA is, when the best basketball player in the world plays like the best basketball player in the world. Its really that simple.
Yesterday was about LeBron James. Not the LeBron James hes become, but the LeBron he was supposed to be. The LeBron James that was not only admired, but almost universally loved by fans, players and coaches around this league. The LeBron James who was supposed to change basketball forever and for the better, before a big head, fragile psyche and a boat load of bad advice turned him into Alex Rodriguez in a tank top.
Today and if the Celtics fall short again tomorrow well talk about last night as a lost opportunity, but Im still not convinced that opportunity existed. I dont say that to let the Celtics off the hook, because lets be honest: That was a brutal effort. Considering who they are, where they were and what was on the line, last nights performance was an insult. Not to us, but to themselves. If last night was truly the last time we see the Big 3 together on the parquet, its a legitimate shame to have them go out like that with so much at stake and so little to show for it.
But regardless of how much better the Celtics should and could have played, they werent the story. It was LeBron. He was unstoppable. He was legendary.
But heres the thing about last night: It was last night.
And while LeBrons performance was powerful enough to keep us in awe up until tomorrows tip off, right now it means very little. It does nothing to alter his legacy or reputation, because unless he and the Heat can pull off not one, not two, but five more wins this season, the story on LeBron is staying put.
Instead, as great as it was, LeBrons transcendent performance is currently floating in limbo alongside the no-call on Rondo in overtime of Game 2, Wades missed three-pointer in overtime of Game 4, Pierces step back three and Rondos brilliant tip pass in Game 5. Right now, LeBrons 45-point outburst is merely one of a number of things that have led us to this point, the importance and historical significance of which will be entirely determined by the events of tomorrow night.
Everything is tomorrow night. The results will affect the way we remember every aspect of these last six games, of the last two years of this rivalry, of the last five years of this historic era of Boston Celtics basketball. That may sound like hyperbole, but I promise you that it's not.
Can the Celtics do it?
Come on, thats a stupid question. Of course they can do it. If you dont believe the Celtics can go down to Miami, reverse the fortunes of Game 6 and shock the world one more time, then you're believing all wrong. You know nothing about this team, the resilience of champions, the level of grit, balls, fortitude and obscene levels of pride and skill that go into a Hall of Fame career, into making it this far in the first place. You dont know how much this team loves and cares about Doc Rivers, about each other, about their fans and about themselves. You didn't see the tears running down their faces in the moments after that Game 7 loss two years ago in LA. The feeling that they'd blown their last chance to separate themselves from the hordes of one-hit championship wonders and into another stratosphere of NBA history. As individuals, and more importantly, as a team.
Honestly, if you don't think the Celtics have a chance tomorrow then click off this page right now and never come back to this web site.
OK, I just talked to my editors. They want me to say you're always welcome back. But let me reiterate that you're missing the point: The Celtics can do this.
The question of "will they?" is obviously far more important, but unfortunately beyond our control. Anyone who tells you that they know what will happen tomorrow is lying. They're probably the same people who wrote the Celtics off after Game 2, who wrote the Heat off after Game 5, who spent the last two weeks mapping the Spurs' victory parade, and the last two days doing the same for OKC. The same people who repeatedly look ridiculous but are somehow the only ones who don't remember.
Sometimes you just don't know. Sometimes believing is all you've got.
Believing that tomorrow night, with everything EVERYTHING on the line, the best that these Celtics have to offer will once again be on display.
And hoping against all hope that the best of LeBron James is nowhere to be found.