The thing that I’m probably the most surprised about, and it’s a pleasant surprise, is that now that I see Garnett in a Celtic uniform, I can’t imagine him being any place else. He seems to be a Celtic more so than a Timberwolf or anything else that he was in this league. I don’t think there’s another place that he could’ve went to that once he put on the Celtic green, he just looks like he fits and he really belongs. He embodies all the things that you think about in terms of Celtic tradition. It’s a perfect fit and I think most people, even myself looking at it at first blush, just never imagined him as a Celtic. But once he put on the uniform and you see him in the Celtic green and how intense and everything he is, he’s a Celtic.
There is a blog called Lex Nihil Novi because Kevin Garnett is a Boston Celtic. This blog kicked off during pre-season of Garnett's inaugural season with the Green. The above quote from Zeke pretty much captured my thoughts, word for word.
Like everyone else, I could barely contain my excitement when the Celtics acquired KG and gave up virtually nothing to get him. Once I realized he was going to wear #5, the number worn by Bill Walton, the symbolism was so powerful that I felt compelled to put pen to paper (metaphorically) and chronicle that entire season in tandem with the Celtics 1985-86 season.
Sure enough, both seasons ended in a championship.
The two teams ended the season with nearly identical records. While the '86 squad cake-walked through the playoffs and to banner 16, the '07 squad struggled to find its playoff mojo. But once it did, whoa, the results were something else. This article probably captures the game 4 Finals comeback -- through the eyes of the Lakers -- better than anything else I read. That was just one of a long series of highlights from that season.
There was opening night when the Ticket channeled the Ghost of Bill Walton and snared an amazing 20 rebounds. There were the three Ali-Frazier bouts with the Pistons. There was the single most satisfying regular season win since 2/16/1986, in which Garnett not only blocked and altered more Laker shots than anyone could count, but, while doing so, instructed the purple to "get that shit outta here!" Finally, there was Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals where the KG-led Celtics absolutely buried the dreaded purple by jaw-dropping 39 points, after which the Big Fella got down on his knees and pressed his lips to the Leprechaun.
Any eyes that were still dry in Celticdom were now streaming full-faucet.
22 years of failure were no more.
Replaced by a season every bit as magical as the season that netted us banner 16.
And I'll be damned if Kevin Garnett was not largely responsible for making this happen.
Garnett brought a championship to a team that many of us feared might not even make it to a Finals again during our lifetime. He gave us all a taste of what the Bill Russell Era teams might have looked like, even if we were too young to have ever watched Bill Russell play. Doc Rivers may have inspired his team with the idea of Ubuntu, but Kevin Garnett embodied it.
Garnett's "anything is possible!" and "I got my own!" exultations bridged the gap over time and space to the Walton-and-McHale embrace. For a moment, several weeks really, ok months, it was like the Celtics had repeated, with 1986 coming only one year before 2008.
We were all gassed in Beantown.
With all of that love frothing over our glasses and into our laps, how could we ever come back to earth? The next season started about the same as the last one ended. 27-2, and a date with the Lakers for another beatdown. How did we ever get so lucky to live this long?
Ah, but then things started to change.
A loss to the purple was followed by bone spurs in KG's knee, was followed by Fat Sheed, a Finals defeat to the same Lakers, the trade of Kendrick Perkins, and the aging of the Second Big Three. Were we back in 1988 again?
Nobody is certain, but the preliminary answer appears to be no. KG re-upped for three years this past summer, and by 1988, Bill Walton's career was pretty much kaput. Yes, the Celtics did start a youth movement in the late 1980s, and so the Celtics are doing again this summer. Whether the recently infused talent makes a difference remains to be seen. But regardless, I'm glad #5 will be spending more time with us.
It won't be the same as it was in 2008. Kevin Garnett is older. But as someone once said about Frank Sinatra's fans, we're getting older, too.
- #05 (Walton)
- #08 (Wedman)
- #12 (Sichting)
- 1971-72 Lakers
- 2007-08 Scores
- Banner 17
- Grassy Knoll Network
- Green Mile
- Larry & Magic
- NBA Scoreboard
- Russell v. Chamberlain
- Walton Gang (1977)