LOS ANGELES — I planned to attend every game of the 2008 NBA Finals until receiving this e-mail from Tommy in Framingham, Mass.:
- “I’ve been reading you since the BSG days. I know it’s great to go to the games, but it’s Celtics-Lakers! If I told you back then that we’d have another Celtics-Lakers Finals and you let the whole series go by without a running diary, you would have said no way. Don’t forget your roots and give us a diary — nobody cares that you went to the game and sat 10 rows from Hugh Hefner or Luke Perry. Give us a diary, Simmons!”
OH, THE DRAMA
Top 10 most dramatic Celtics wins of my lifetime:
1. Game 5, 1976 Finals (Phoenix)
2. Game 7, 1981 Eastern Finals (Philly)
3. Game 5, 1987 Eastern Finals (Detroit)
4. Game 7, 1984 Finals (L.A.)
5. Game 7, 1988 Eastern Semis (Atlanta)
6. Game 4, 2008 Finals (at L.A.)
7. Game 4, 1984 Finals (at L.A.)
8. Game 7, 1987 Finals (Detroit)
9. Game 3, 2002 Eastern Finals (New Jersey)
10. Game 5, 1991 First Round (Indiana)
As far as pep talks go, that ranked somewhere between Duke’s speech to Rocky before the Drago fight and Whoopi Goldberg’s speech before the final game in “Eddie.” But you know what? I have to say, it inspired me a little. I gave up my ticket for Game 4 and stayed home. Why? Because it’s the Celtics and the Lakers in the Finals. And even better, I’m not watching it on a grainy VHS tape after 10 bong hits. Nope, it’s happening live. Time for a diary. And as you know by now, it was an especially lively game.
Here’s what transpired …
6 p.m. PT: We’re coming to you live from the new and improved Sports Guy Mansion! I’m joined by my dogs Rufus and Dooze, a 20-ounce Diet Coke and a bag of sour cream Baked Lays. Five highlights from ABC’s 30-minute pregame show:
1. Stu Scott telling us “[Rajon] Rondo did not have a cortisone shot [for his injured ankle] because he’s scared of needles, which is interesting because he has a tattoo of his initials covering his entire back.” What’s weird about that is the exact same situation happened with Slater Martin before Game 3 of the 1954 Finals.
2. During the second segment, James Worthy had something clogged in his left nostril. Seriously, none of the folks on the set could have given him the old heads-up that he had a bat in the cave? We’re in HD here!
3. The ABC guys spent a couple of minutes selling us on the whole “Kobe is a leader” angle, submitting the following tidbits as evidence: After chewing out a teammate in front of a national TV audience on the court (like Sasha Vujacic in Game 2), Kobe will explain why it happened on the bench afterward; and he goes out for dinner before and after games with his teammates and always picks up the check. Well, then! I guess that’s settled.
4. Jeffrey Osborne sang the national anthem. Apparently, he won a coin toss with James Ingram right before the game.
5. It doesn’t get any cooler than the extended ABC intro with all the characters from various Finals coming to life like Fathead posters. Love it. I’m covered in goose bumps. Can we get a similar montage of all the refs over the years who swung a series with shady calls?
(Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Time for the game.)
6:03: Doc Rivers’ pregame speech, unedited: “Your single-minded goal tonight should be to win. To be to win. Your focus tonight should be, ‘What do I have to do to help my team get this win? What do I have to do to help MY team get this win?’ That has to be your goal. The bottom line at the end of the day is that we gotta have great focus, and our focus has to be on nothing else but winning. Do what you have to do to win.”
(Move over, Knute Rockne and Gene Hackman, there’s a new sheriff in town!)
6:05: Thursday night’s officials: Steve Javie, Joe DeRosa and Tom Washington. In my opinion, Washington is the worst ref in the league yet continually gets big assignments. He’s not even competent enough to fix a game. It’s like having a drunk guy out there — you don’t know what’s happening next, you just know it will be interesting. Anyway, it’s strangely comforting to see him out there.
6:07: Lamar Odom starts off with a nice four-step drive that draws a goaltending: 2-0, Lakers. Boy, you can see where this one is headed.
6:10: An out-of-control Kobe drives to the basket and gets bailed out by a bad call. This should be an official NBA stat: “bailout calls.” By the way, could someone tell the Lakers’ bandwagon fans that Kobe already won the MVP, so they don’t have to keep chanting for him? Yeah, they voted for it and everything. He won.
6:12: After a sequence when Kobe absolutely hacks Kevin Garnett for a steal, throws the ball away, then trips Paul Pierce right in front of Washington to get the ball back, Doc picks up a quick T. I had 6:24 in the ESPN.com office pool.
6:13: Lakers 9, Celtics 2. “The Lakers look sharp early!” Mike Breen gushes. So do the refs. Let’s just hand the NBA over to Vince McMahon and get it over with.
6:16: A noticeably more aggressive Odom (eight points) carries the Lakers to a 16-6 lead. Does this mean ABC won’t be adding him to the cast of “Grey’s Anatomy” as Dr. McChokey next season? Maybe there’s still time. Hey, do you think Pierce could stop giving interviews and maybe think about joining this game? Just a thought.
6:22: You’re not gonna believe this, but Kobe just got called for a foul and acted like he was in complete shock over the call, then they showed the replay and he clearly whacked P.J. Brown’s hand. LIAR! LIAR!
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6:24: Odom drains another 16-footer. It’s 24-7, Lakers. They look so possessed on both ends that they’ve earned at least five sitting ovations from the Lakers’ crowd. Meanwhile, the Celts are having such a hard time running their offense, it’s like watching Vlad Radmanovic and Sasha Vujacic trying to get through airport security during a holiday weekend. I don’t feel good about Game 4. Not at all.
6:30: Five straight for the Celts! They’ve chopped the lead to 14. The fact I’m excited about this tells you everything you need to know. Kudos to Scot Pollard and Brian Scalabrine for openly defying injured-list etiquette that (A) you shouldn’t jump up and celebrate after every big play and (B) you shouldn’t run out on the floor and high-five teammates if you’re wearing everyday clothes. We’ve seen a blossoming of the 13th man in the playoffs. If Walter Hermann was the Jackie Robinson of this movement in the Eastern finals, then Scal is Larry Doby and Pollard is Don Newcombe.
6:33: Pau Gasol gets to the line for two freebies: 30-12, Lakers. By the way, wouldn’t Lakers games be more fun if Gasol dressed like a bullfighter for the pregame intros, then waved a red cape for the other starters as they ran by him?
6:34: The good news: My man Eddie House is finally playing. The bad news: He’s 0-for-3 on open looks. Other alternatives for point guard: Rondo (playing hurt) and Sam Cassell (“The Mole”). Bad times. Meanwhile, Trevor Ariza just hit a 3-pointer and it’s 34-12. When Trevor Ariza is bombing 3s, it’s definitely not your night.
6:36: Well, the Lakers broke the record for “biggest first-quarter lead in the Finals” (21 points). I’m not even complaining about the 15 free-throw attempts because the Celtics have played soft and looked a step slow. Anyway, it’s 35-14. I think I’m going to pull the Lakers flag off the 1989 Honda Civic that’s parked on my street and ram it into my head a few times.
6:40: With the Celtics floundering, the Doc Rivers/Michele Tafoya interview doesn’t feature its signature flirtatious moment. I’m disappointed. They’re my favorite platonic TV sports couple since the heyday of Fred Carter and Linda Cohn. Normally when Michele asks Doc a question, he always responds with a smile that makes it seem like he’s about to order her a second apple martini. Not tonight.
6:42: Ariza shoves James Posey out of the way for an offensive rebound and lays it in: 37-14, Lakers. Did I mention Kobe doesn’t have a field goal yet? Looks like the Celtics can’t win the title in L.A. — it’s going to have to happen in the Garden back in Boston.
6:46: Defining play of the game so far: Ray Allen tips a Vujacic jumper, three Celtics watch it sail over them thinking it was headed out of bounds, then Ariza (playing really well) comes flying in to save it, followed by the inevitable Luke Walton 3-pointer that never would have gone in under any other circumstances. Inexcusable. I have to say, I’m perplexed by the no-show by Boston tonight. Especially after that inspiring speech by Rivers. Didn’t the Celtics understand their focus should have been to win?
6:50: Coming out of the break, Will Smith breaks down the game by happily telling us, “That’s the way I like it, I like to play from in front.” Hey now!
6:52: Van Gundy casually reveals that Odom (15 points, seven-for-seven shooting) has been nicknamed “L.O.” by his teammates. I love that “Lamar” wasn’t a unique enough name for them. That kills me for some reason.
6:55: Cassell throws the ball right to the Lakers, throws up a brick on the next possession, then causes global warming to get worse. It’s 45-21, Lakers. The stats for Boston’s three point guards so far: 2-for-8, no assists, one turnover and one “below-average performance” comment from Van Gundy. In other news, my daughter just walked into my office completely naked and screamed “Daddy!” Yup, it’s a new phase for her — the “I love being naked!” stage. Pencil her in for “Real World 2023 in Las Vegas.” Just do it now. Also, kill me.
6:59: ABC gives us the “Look, Kobe is a good teammate!” montage, as ordered by David Stern’s BlackBerry during the timeout.
7:00: Mike Breen explains the flat crowd by saying, “The crowd seems like they got tired from giving standing ovations.” Yeah, that was a solid 40 minutes of intermittent cheering and standing during an exciting blowout. I can see how that can wear you down.
7:03: Breen: “Posey for 3! And it’s a 14-point game!” I’m afraid to say anything so allow me to change the subject: Why can’t we get a shot of the Boston media members covering the game? You know they’re all horribly sunburned and wearing Hawaiian shirts. I’ve been patiently waiting all game.
7:08: The lead crawls back to 17. Boston is playing small ball, which leads to some good things (a barrage of jumpers and 3s) and bad things (Gasol just dunked on Ray Allen’s head). Like the move, though.
7:10: Allen misses a wide-open 3 that would have cut the lead to 10. Ouch. Unfortunately, the game is now being delayed because Mark Jackson is reading his résumé on-air in a last-ditch attempt to get an NBA coaching job.
7:14: Crazy decision by Rivers to end the half: Down 13, he takes out KG (two fouls) for the slow-as-molasses Perkins-Brown combo. Even Van Gundy is confused (and he loves Doc): “I would have left Garnett in the game and tried to finish the quarter with my best offensive and defensive lineups.” Interesting idea. So you’re saying we should finish the half with our best lineup? Hmmmmmm.
7:16: Radmanovic commits a horrible foul 40 feet from the hoop on Rondo in the final seconds, followed by a classic shot of Phil Jackson staring in disbelief. Remember the old Seinfeld joke about how Rodney Dangerfield wore every routine he ever did on his face? The same goes for Phil Jackson — he wears every game he has ever coached on his face.
7:17: Jordan Farmar banks in a garbage running 3-pointer at the buzzer. Our halftime score: 58-40, Lakers. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say it was a mistake to mess up a lineup that was on an 18-7 run with 52 seconds left. Good Lord. The only way this game could be worse is if they flashed to Spencer and Heidi cheering right after that Farmar shot.
7:20: Relevant halftime stats: Lakers shooting 50 percent, Celtics 35 percent. … Lakers with a 26-16 rebounding edge and a 15-4 edge in assists. … Seven-for-seven shooting, 15 points and eight rebounds for Odom. … Only one “bailout call” for Kobe. … One “we suck, we’re blowing this series” phone call from my dad. … I’d have more for you, but I have to text in my vote for Sam Cassell for the “T-Mobile Finals Player of the Game.”
7:25: They just showed pregame video of Stern defending his officials from Tim Donaghy’s accusations. That reminds me, click on this 2002 playoffs column I wrote right after the Kings-Lakers series and scroll down to the section about the “Most Disturbing Subplot of the Playoffs.” Fascinating in lieu of the recent Dick Bavetta allegations, no? Hold on, six guys wearing ski masks just kicked down my office door. And they’re all pointing guns at me. I have to go.
7:33: After watching ABC’s halftime segment about the Zen Master and his philosophy that basketball teams are like a wolf pack, and the strength of the pack is greater than the strength of the wolf itself, suddenly Doc’s pregame “Do what you have to do to win” speech feels a little … um, what’s the word … pedestrian by comparison. On the other hand, maybe Doc doesn’t like to complicate things like Phil does. Yeah, that’s it.
7:35: Rivers’ halftime speech, unedited: “We gotta make plays, guys, defensively. Defensively, we start making plays, the scoring will come. But we have to make plays.”
7:35: Jackson’s halftime speech, unedited: “We gotta go out there and win this third quarter. We gotta go out there and win the third quarter.”
(Let’s just say that you won’t see either of those moments on a fortune cookie.)
7:39: The Sports Gal sticks around for the first minute of the third quarter, announcing, “I’d like to extend an offer to every sideline reporter that I will take them shopping, revamp their wardrobe and teach them how to wear makeup,” then stomping out of the room in disgust. That was fun.
7:42: So long, Kendrick Perkins. He just injured his left shoulder hacking Odom on a layup. None of the ABC guys apparently realize Perk has had trouble with separated shoulders throughout his career. Yikes. This series is falling apart. Also, it’s worth mentioning the Lakers have basically decided to leave Rondo alone like he’s a 10-year-old kid playing in a pickup game of 12-year-olds.
7:46: The game just got delayed for a minute because Dyan Cannon’s face started spurting saline all over the court. Let’s get her a towel. Meanwhile, trailing by 18 at the 8:26 mark, the Celtics go small with Posey at the 4. Basketball has to be the only thing in life in which you can decide to “go small” and it’s actually a good thing.
7:50: For God’s sake, these TV timeouts are so long you have time to shave, make an English muffin and finish a Sudoku puzzle. We’ve seen at least 200 ads, although none of them were for Tim Donaghy’s new book, “Grasping For Straws: How I Regurgitated Every Shaky NBA Story That Was Already Known In An Effort To Cut a Deal with the Feds.”
7:51: Celebs at Game 4: Larry David, Spike Lee (wearing a Yankees jersey), Justin Timberlake, Will Smith, David Beckham, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Flea, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jack Nicholson. That reminds me, we’re coming up on the 30-year anniversary of the only time I ever liked Kareem — when he played Roger Murdock in “Airplane.” I specifically remember liking him for about an hour.
7:52: After House drains a 3 to cut the lead to 15, Van Gundy jokes that it’s too bad the Celtics can’t play House on offense and Rondo on defense like they would in Iowa girls basketball. I say that’s a bad sign for your title hopes — when an announcer suggests your point guard tandem would be more successful in Iowa girls basketball. But that’s just me.
7:57: Steal and a fast-break layup for Ray Allen! Lakers 72, Celtics 61. Boston has suddenly turned it up about 1,000 notches defensively — guys are flying all over the place and doubling everybody, even the Laker Girls. Now this is the 66-win team I watched from November through March! I knew it was lurking somewhere.
7:59: From Mike in Costa Mesa, Calif.: “He’s cut! The Russian is cut! He’s bleeding!” Too early? Possibly.
8:02: Posey’s fifth foul earns one of the scariest sentences ever uttered in the English language: “Checking in for the first time is Tony Allen.” Breen could have just said, “Terrorists have released a poisonous gas and everyone in L.A. will be dead in 20 minutes” and I wouldn’t be as frightened.
(Speaking of frightened, it’s the 2008 Los Angeles Lakers! They just had to stop the game because Radmanovic lost control of his bowels.)
8:03: Pierce abuses Ariza, gets body-blocked by Gasol, absorbs the contact and finishes the reverse for a three-point play. And it’s a nine-point game! I might break the record for “most exclamation points in one running diary” for this column before everything’s said and done.
8:05: Eddie House for 3 … and it’s a six-point game! (I told you he should play! I told you! I told you! I told you!) Thank you to Phil Jackson for forgetting the Lakers should be pressuring House every time he dribbles up the court. In fact, I think Jackson passed out about 10 minutes ago. We’re on an improbable 17-3 run for the Celtics right now. You see teams come back from big deficits at home, but on the road? This never happens, right?
8:06: “This crowd is absolutely stunned,” Breen tells us with the Celts trailing by four. Either that or they’re BlackBerrying friends to see where they want to meet after the game. It’s one or the other. If there’s a fatal flaw for this Lakers team, it’s that too many of their real fans either got priced out by the Celtics-Lakers Finals or couldn’t resist selling their tickets for big money. Game 3 was Pseudo Central, and Game 4 looks like the same thing. That’s the price of playing in L.A.
8:07: I don’t know whether I’m bummed out that I missed seeing this game in person or I single-handedly swung what was going to happen by staying home. Either way, I’m glad I didn’t go, even if I would have loved being there, if that makes sense.
(By the way, I stopped being coherent about 10 minutes ago. In case you didn’t notice.)
8:08: Smart pass by Pierce for a P.J. Brown dunk to end the third quarter: After Boston’s 21-3 run, the L.A. lead is down to just two. I think my TV room is louder than the Staples Center right now, and I’m the only one here.
8:10: My dad’s take via phone: “Get the paddles out! Help!” He’s only half-kidding. Meanwhile, poor Michele just tried to interview Phil Jackson, who seems strangely serene. Are we sure there’s not a hookah bar hidden on the Lakers bench?
8:13: From Lyndon in New York: “Has there EVER been a worse crowd at a major sporting event than this Game 4 crowd at the end of the third quarter? Has there ever been an instance in which the number of designer handbags and purses outnumbered the number of home team jerseys? It was like a combination of the crowds you would anticipate at the World Cup, Super Bowl, Game 7 of the World Series, the Klitschko brothers heavyweight title fight and the final match in ‘Victory,’ only the EXACT opposite. I’m so mad right now I want to punch someone in the face. That’s it, I’m rooting for the Celtics out of principle just because their fans seem to give a crap whereas the Laker ‘crowd’ would simply move on to whatever happened to be the next fad of the week.”
(Hey, I didn’t say it.)
8:14: Down by two with a chance to tie, the Celts get hosed on a no-call on a Leon Powe shot (should have been a shooting foul) and a bogus push-off on Pierce. Huge swing. Meanwhile, I’m so rattled that I just hit some button that triggered every formatting button in my Microsoft Word document. … I can’t get it off. … Help. … I am falling apart. …
8:16: Not only did I figure out how to get rid of the formatting marks, but Leon Powe just tied the game with a turnaround jumper: 73-73. What a comeback! You can’t even say that the Lakers totally collapsed because the Celtics are flying around like absolute maniacs. Is it possible this series has just come down to “Which team is trying harder?” Can it be that simple?
(You know what else has helped? Kobe is 2-for-13 right now. And while we’re here, let’s just say MJ’s teams never blew a 24-point lead at home in the Finals. I’m throwing it out there now.)
8:18: Kobe drives on Pierce for a pretty layup, followed by Pierce draining his patented step-back jumper over him. You rarely see the best guys on each team covering each other in the NBA anymore, much less in the Finals, right? This is fun. Pierce is playing particularly well in the second half — he’s in full-fledged “game manager” mode.
8:21: Breen says the crowd is very quiet because the fans are “so nervous right now.” If you say so, Mike. Maybe the fans are nervous the game might go into OT, and they might miss out on the table they reserved at Le Deux.
8:23: For the third time in the past few minutes, Boston misses an easy layup or wide-open jumper that would have given it the lead. (My dad would call this a Hump Game. We can’t get over the hump. Damn it all.) After a Pierce miss and a Kobe fast-break dunk, it’s L.A. by four with 5:47 remaining. Did the C’s shoot their wad with the comeback? I hate when that happens.
8:27: Quick tangent to distract you from my nervousness: I gotta say, I like the new Coldplay song. It’s about time they stopped that effeminate falsetto crap and went back to making music. On the flip side, I’d rather see Tony Allen come into this game than sit through “The Love Guru.” End of tangent.
(Nope, didn’t work. I’m still nervous.)
8:29: Timely e-mail from Kyle in Rhode Island: “As we’re watching Game 4 and watching the endless commercials during the timeouts, my roommate Bubba tells me, ‘If Pau Gasol wasn’t 7-feet tall, he’d totally be the lead singer of Coldplay.’ Immediately after this comment, the iTunes commercial with Coldplay comes on, and we absolutely lost it.”
8:30: Posey drains an elephantitis-of-the-testicles 3-pointer, followed by a killer shot-clock beater by Gasol on a double-pump to foil some inspired defense by the C’s. (Gasol knows how to use his butt better than any low-post player in the NBA. And I think we’ll leave it at that.) KG follows with two free throws. Lakers by one, 4:30 to go. Regardless of the winner, we will be watching this one on ESPN Classic for years to come (as I predicted). Will it be the Comeback Game or the Near-Comeback/Stomach-Punch Game?
|ESPN CLASSIC INSTANT CLASSIC|
ESPN Classic will air the historic 24-point comeback of the NBA Finals, Game 4: Celtics at Lakers, as an INSTANT CLASSIC, Saturday from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET.|
8:31: Eddie drains a 20-footer for a one-point lead. We got over the hump! This seems like a good time to mention I’ve been bitching that the Celts should (A) play Eddie House, (B) play Leon Powe and (C) go small more often FOR THE ENTIRE PLAYOFFS. And you thought I just had an ax to grind against Doc. Look, when things are PAINSTAKINGLY OBVIOUS and your team is not doing those things, it’s a little frustrating, you know? Wait, I’m being the turd in the punch bowl again. I’ll shut up now.
8:32: Ray Allen tips away a pass and Garnett grabs it for the Boston timeout, followed by Breen blessing the moment with a Marv-like “One of the great comebacks … in Celtics history” tag. Strangely, he also called the Nets’ comeback in 2002. When I’m coming back from heart surgery after this game, I want Mike Breen to announce it.
8:34: Allen grabs a monster offensive rebound (nine boards for the game?!?!?!?) in traffic, pulls it back out and eventually drives again for a gorgeous up-and-under layup (and a 3-point lead). The flip side to the previous paragraph: I was one of the idiots who thought during the Cleveland series that Ray-Ray was washed up. In my face. I’m officially retiring the “Big Two Featuring Ray Allen” joke. He’s even looming as a potential MVP of this series if … you know …
(Whoops, I was just zapped by the Jinx Police. My bad.)
THE FINALS 411
Bill Simmons was fully immersed in the NBA Finals. Check out his coverage of the series:
• Game 5: Closing time back in Boston
• Game 4: Just call it The Comeback Game
• Game 1: Piercing the silence
8:36: Two terrible possessions by L.A.: A fallaway by Vujacic right at the shot-clock buzzer, followed by an Odom rebound and eventually another brick from Farmar. (Celts up by three, 2:30 to go.) Boston responds by isolating Garnett against Gasol. KG gets into the paint, gives him the hop-step move and drains it! Celts by five, 2:10 remaining. That was the single biggest shot of KG’s career. I’m not kidding.
8:38: Big-time mistake by ABC — they showed so many ads they missed the return of the game and Kobe getting fouled. Wow. I’m giving them an anti-Tommy Point. Boston by three, two minutes remaining.
8:39: Pierce draws contact on one of his famous herky-jerky, zigzag, I’m-getting-to-the-line drives helped out by a late switch by Gasol. Misses one, gets the other. Boston by four, 1:44 remaining. I am strangely unafraid of Kobe right now. Can’t explain it.
8:40: Whoops, maybe I shouldn’t have said that out loud: After a tough drive by Kobe, Boston’s lead is down to two. The lesson, as always …
8:42: Posey for three again! Boston 94, L.A. 89, 1:10 to go. He has 18 for the game — gotta love those battle-tested vets with rings. That’s quickly followed by Fisher’s foot-on-the-line two and a bump on Pierce from Kobe 40 feet from the hoop. Bad foul. We’re headed for a timeout. I’m going to throw up. You should have seen this paragraph before I fixed the typos.
8:44: Sam Cassell might have had a horrible playoffs, but he just broke the F-bomb record on the Boston bench getting the guys fired up. That was outstanding. I don’t know how I’m even typing right now.
8:45: Pierce drains both freebies. Clutch. Boston by five, 46.8 seconds remaining. If the Celtics come back to win this game and the series (note to the Jinx Police: I said “if”), can you remember another Finals in which FOUR guys altered the way we remembered their career historically? And yes, I’m including you, Kobe.
8:46: Capital letters coming …
After a Lakers basket, Allen whittled the next 20 seconds off the clock before completely abusing Vujacic for a back-breaking layup. (Special thanks to Gasol for not helping in time — I’m starting to think Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton and two draft picks was a fair trade.) Boston by five, 17 seconds left. I’m not kidding, Ray-Ray is in “I’m destroying Papa Shuttlesworth and I’m not signing that letter of intent!!!” mode right now. This seems like a good time to mention he has played the entire game. Amazing. This was like J.D. Drew’s $14 million grand slam in October, only for two solid hours. I’m stunned and continue to be stunned.
(By the way, it’s a good thing I didn’t go to this game — I would be losing my freaking mind. The Lakers fans would be beating me up with chardonnay glasses right now.)
8:48: Just when I thought this couldn’t get any better, they just cut to a replay of Vujacic punching a chair and fighting back tears on the bench. That wasn’t just the best moment of the Celtics season, I think it was the best moment of my life.
8:49: Two Lakers misses, Celtics rebound, game in hand! Fittingly, Eddie House will shoot the final free throws. He didn’t play for the first 12 playoff games. He played in Games 13 and 14. He didn’t play for the next nine. And now he’s closing out either the greatest comeback in Celtics history or the greatest collapse in Lakers history. Maybe a little of both.
8:50: Boston 97, L.A. 91. As they say in Hollywood, that’s a wrap. Some final thoughts:
2. I mean … wow.
3. For all my bitching about Doc Rivers over the years, I have to hand it to him — he played the right guys at the right time and helped facilitate one of the great moments in Boston Celtics history. The man deserves all the credit in the world. He outcoached the Zen Master. It happened. His focus was on winning, and they won.
4. Racking my brain, that had to have been the greatest comeback in Finals history, and beyond that, one of the few great mega-comebacks by a road team in playoffs history. I’m sure they’ll have the complete list Friday, but I can’t remember watching many ESPN Classic games in which the road team made up a deficit that large. Home teams? Yes. Road teams? No. You’ll see the road team come roaring back, but they never actually win. This time? They won.
5. The Kobe-MJ thing … done. Over. Jordan never would have let that happen in the Finals. Ever. Under any circumstances. Nobody is ever allowed to bring this up again.
6. My dad’s take after the game: “I never gave up hope! I knew we would win!” Apparently, all copies of his halftime phone call have been destroyed.
7. I think that game made up for the Magic Sky-Hook Game. I need more time to make an official decision, but you know what? After 21 years, I think I might be over it. Thank you, everyone on the 2008 Boston Celtics. Thank you. Now, I don’t have to torture myself by wondering why Robert Parish didn’t jump out on that sky hook anymore.
8. I need a drink.
Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. For every Simmons column, as well as podcasts, videos, favorite links and more, check out the revamped Sports Guy’s World.