by Hayden Alfano
In the aftermath of Boston’s 131-92 dismantling of the Los Angeles Lakers as the Celtics won their 17th National Basketball Association (NBA) championship, four words came to mind to define the season. It was worth it.
The wait was worth it for Boston captain and NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Paul Pierce. A ten-year veteran who has spent his entire career in the green and white, Pierce has been a part of some of the worst-ever Boston teams, including last year’s 24-win outfit. Last night, he earned his vindication.
The wait was also worth it for Kevin Garnett, the long-time superstar from the Minnesota Timberwolves who had made it past the first round of the playoffs just once in 12 years before arriving in Boston in the offseason.
It was worth it for Ray Allen to set aside the top banana status he had enjoyed at previous stops in Milwaukee and Seattle for a still-prominent but reduced role on a much stronger team.
It was worth it for Celtics general manager Danny Ainge to trade away the team’s future to bring those three All-Stars together for a two- or three-year window and the chance for an NBA title.
Tuesday night made it worth it for Boston head coach Glenn “Doc” Rivers, who has been the target of criticism — more than a fair share dished out by this very author — during his four years at the helm.
It was worth it for P.J. Brown to allow himself to be talked out of retirement to come back and take one last shot at a championship ring.
It was worth it for all the Boston players, who achieved on this night what they’ve worked for their entire lives.
It was worth it for Celtics fans, too.
For older fans, a spoiled group who witnessed the Russell-Cousy teams dominate the '60s and '70s and the Bird-Parish-McHale teams win three championships during the '80s, this unprecedented (for them) title drought is forgotten with the convincing win over an old rival.
For younger fans — fans for whom championship memories come in the form of hand-me-downs and highlight reels — this title validates a young lifetime’s worth of dedication, of perseverance through uninspired play and poor personnel decisions.
I’m a member of that latter group. I was not yet six years old when the Celtics last won the whole shebang, in 1986; just shy of seven when they had their most recent shot at the trophy the following year. My fanaticism was passed down to me by my parents, and as much as I appreciate the history of the league’s most storied franchise, I’ve always longed for a championship team of my own.
Now I have one, and I can say with confidence that everything I’ve gone through during the two months that is the NBA playoff season — the sleepless nights, the upset stomach, the inability to concentrate — has been worth it.
Out of curiosity, I even did a mental calculation of the money I’ve spent on the Celtics this year. When you add it all up — two trips to Boston; tickets to four games (including Game 1 of these Finals); the NBA cable package so that I could watch all the team’s games during the season; and a few apparel purchases — I’ve spent about $1,000 due to my devotion this year. Not an exorbitant sum, but money that, as anyone who has seen the way I dress would suggest, might have been spent elsewhere.
But it was worth it. The memories I have from this year are worth far more than the money.
(To see video highlights of Game 6 of the NBA Finals, which clinched the championship for the Boston Celtics, please check below. The highlights are provided by the NBA.)
Los Angeles Lakers
Glenn Doc Rivers
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by Hayden Alfano