Celtics Beat Bird for Win #60
Glen Davis ran his right hand, palm side down, along the line of his freshly cut Mohawk to illustrate just where, exactly, the historical significance of 60 wins ranks - not only in Celtics history, of which he knows little, but also in the context of his young life.
``Over my head, man,'' said the big Celtics rookie. ``I have no idea.''
The Celtics won their 60th game of the season last night, and to find the last time they won that many, turn back to their most recent NBA championship in 1986. That team won 67 - a total this team can match if it wins the final seven games. ``Now, of course I know who played back then,'' said Davis, warming to the trivia challenge. ``Larry Bird was on that team.''
``Yeah, and John Havlicek,'' interjected Rajon Rondo, winking when Davis wasn't looking to let on that he was only trying to fool Big Baby, and that he actually knew that Havlicek played even further back in the Dark Ages.
Ronald Reagan was president, and there was still a Soviet Union.
Davis closed his eyes. He wasn't in the mood for history.
``You weren't even born, son,'' Rondo told him. ``1986 - that was the year when was born.''
Ray Allen could relate better than most in the room. He was 10 when the Celtics beat Houston in the 1986 NBA Finals.
He even remembers the era.
``Reaganomics,'' he said.
The current Celtics don't lack for spokesmen and interesting thinkers. Their coach was once playfully promoted as the next mayor of Atlanta. But if there is a resident philosopher - someone always willing to think beyond convention - then Allen is the guy.
The Celtics' party line response to winning 60 games for the first time in 22 years is that it's just a number.
Here's a sampling:
Paul Pierce: ``We have a bigger picture in mind.''
James Posey: ``Nope. Doesn't matter. The championship does.''
Rondo: ``It's great to win 60, but we're not aiming for that.''
But the 32-year-old guard is also fascinated by the number's historical relevance.
Reaganomics. Glasnost. Tight NBA shorts, Billy Idol and Sharon Stone. Tree Rollins and Mikhail Gorbachev.
``I love people who say that they don't follow sports,'' said Allen. ``You don't have to follow sports to understand how they connect to the world. I mean, there's a lot of soccer moms out there, right?
``We're all competitors,'' he said. ``When you live in a city where there is a pro team, that's a resource for your kids. There's a very strong connection there, even for people who don't follow sports.''
Allen just described Boston, circa 1986.
Not everyone was a Celtics fan. But that 67-win team crossed all sorts of social and economic boundaries, just as the current 60-win team is drawing new converts every day. Soccer moms know about Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
``A lot of us grew up paying attention to the NBA,'' said Allen. ``We can say what the state of our country was at the time a team that we loved was playing. This game transcends sports. It can mean a lot more than that for people.''
So perhaps 60 and 67 aren't just numbers, after all.
Then again, a championship would wipe those digits clear.
Everyone would remember Baby's Mohawk, though.