These Celtics are the kind of team everyone should envy

These Celtics are the kind of team everyone should envy

In the end on Causeway St., Boston, a much more modern Boston Garden became the capital of basketball again the way the old Garden was. This was all about the Celtics once again being the royalty of their sport the way the Yankees so desperately want to be that again in baseball. This was about them back to being The Celtics, who once won titles in the last century the way the Yankees did, and now have produced one of the greatest single seasons in NBA history right here and now. It’s just that this time something old – the Celtics winning again – felt remarkably young.

These Celtics are led by players known in Boston as the Two Jays, Jayson Tatum and Finals MVP Jaylen Brown. Tatum just turned 26 in March. Brown is 27. Everybody who follows basketball knows that the two of them have been knocking on the door for a while. They were ahead of the Warriors two games to one once in the NBA Finals. They thought they might be on their way back to the Finals last year even after falling behind the Heat 0-3 in the Eastern Conference finals before losing Game 7 at home. On Monday night they didn’t just kick the door down, they drove right through it.

So, we saw these Celtics, 64-18 in the regular season and 16-2 in the playoffs, win their 18th NBA title, one more than the Lakers, nowhere near No. 18 at the moment, the age of their biggest star putting him more than a decade older than Tatum or Brown. It’s the Celtics who have now produced a season for the ages.

All of this shouldn’t just scare the daylights out of the Knicks, as young and tough as they are, seeing where they need to go and the kind of team they need to be. It should scare everybody. If the Celtics continue to be blessed with good health, and continue to be constructed by a basketball savant named Brad Stevens – Stevens is 47, as young in the world of front offices as the Two Jays – they aren’t going anywhere. They might have it in them to even start the kind of run that Joe Torre’s Yankees had once.

And here is something worse for Knicks fans and all New York sports fans: In this century, Boston remains the home office for titles in the major sports. Oh, sure. This was the 13th title in a major sport in Boston since Tom Brady won his first Super Bowl just slightly over 20 years ago. Six Super Bowls for the Patriots since then. Four World Series titles for the Red Sox at a time when the Yankees have only won one. Two NBA titles for the Celtics, finally getting them past the Lakers. Even the Bruins have won a Stanley Cup since the last time the Rangers won one of their own.

It had been nearly six years since the Red Sox won it all in 2018, with a baseball season as dominant as this NBA season was for the Celtics, that Sox team winning 108 in the regular season and then losing the same three postseason games that the Celtics just did. You know how long it has been between titles in New York in the big sports, 12 years since Coach Coughlin and Eli Manning and them managed to knock off the Patriots in a Super Bowl in Indianapolis, or the Boston-New York scoreboard for this century would look even lopsided than it already does.

When it was over Monday night on the most famous basketball floor in this world they asked Tatum, who in Game 5 finally showed up with shooting and scoring he can make look so easy to go with the fine passing and flinty rebounding he had done against the Mavericks, what this championship meant to him, and to his teammates.

He said: “It means the world.”

This was on the night when he and those teammates played the kind of beautiful team ball that became part of the team’s DNA in the 50s and 60s when the Celtics really did become the Yankees of pro basketball, and finally did climb back to top of the NBA world for the first time since June of 2008, when they were coached by Doc Rivers and their stars were Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, and rolled the Lakers in the end the way the Celtics rolled the Mavericks.

So now Tatum and Brown take their place with them, and with Bill Russell, the greatest winner we’ve ever had in American team sports, and Bob Cousy and John Havlicek and Sam and K.C. Jones; with Dave Cowens after that; and then true basketball legends of the 1980s, Larry Bird and Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, back when Celtics vs. Lakers was back to being the main event in pro sports, and not just in basketball.

Once it was Red Auerbach who put championship teams together, first as a coach who won 10 championships and then as the most storied executive in league history. Then Danny Ainge was the one who imagined the Garnett-Pierce-Allen Celtics, and did have them knocking on the door again before Stevens, once the boy wonder coach of Butler University and now someone who looks like a boy-wonder executive, came along to close the deal with Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday and Derrick White, all of whom contributed mightily for this Celtics team.

We saw who these Celtics were, all the way through the Finals. But in all the big ways, this is who the Celtics always were, from the time they became great with Auerbach and Russell. Now they produce a season like this for the ages. Young ages. Not only do they have what the Knicks want. They have what the Yankees want, too.

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