Well, I’ve got to admit it. I’m officially a bandwagon jumper. The greatest NBA Finals comeback off all time got me back on the Celtic bandwagon after more than a decade away. And the kicker is I really didn’t even see it!
I guess the first step in my re-dedication to the Boston Celtics took place when it became clear it was going to be a Celtics Lakers Finals this year. Growing up during the time of Bird and Magic, I couldn’t help but be curious about this series. I rooted for the Celtics’ then Big Three of Bird, McHale and Parrish way back when. Still, there was no way I could hate Magic or Kareem not with the great brand of basketball they played. Sure, I wanted the Celtics to beat the brains out of the Lakers every time they matched up against them, but I never actually hated LA. To me, those were the best years of the NBA.
What of the Jordan years? Good question! No doubt Michael gave us lots of thrills over the years and it’s hard to argue against such excellence. But, I have two problems with the Jordan era.
First, everybody is so busy anointing MJ as the greatest ever that they forget that Bird and Magic were pretty darn good too. Magic played center in a Finals game as a rookie and scored something like 40 points. The man could do it all at will with a smile on his face. As for Bird, was anyone ever as competitive and as smart on the court while shooting, rebounding and passing so well? It’s worth noting that Michael won exactly nothing when he faced Magic and Bird in their primes.
For me, what made the Bird-Magic years so (yes I’m gonna say it..) MAGIC was that they were two once in a lifetime talents whose careers completely paralleled. As fans, we were lucky to see two great players go against each other for years. It gave us great basketball. The problem with Jordan is his timing. Michael never ran up against a worthy adversary in his career. (Remember how The Mailman failed to deliver for Utah?) Doesn’t mean that there couldn’t be anyone how’d give him a run for his money. It’s just that it worked out that there was no Bird or Magic or Wilt in their prime when MJ came along. Good for him. Bad for us as fans. Frankly, six championships is pretty boring unless of course you happen to be a Bulls fan.
My second problem with the Jordan years is Scottie Pippen. If Michael is slightly overrated than I can’t even begin to describe how overrated Scottie Pippen is. He made the Top 50 All Time NBA Team. He’s a guy who never won anything without Michael. He’s also a guy who refused to enter a playoff game because his coach dared to draw up a last minute play in which he wasn’t the guy taking the shot. Yup, that sounds like one of the 50 greatest ever to lace ’em up in the NBA…
Anyway, back to me and the bandwagon. I tuned in late in the first quarter to see that the Celtics were down by about twenty. At that point, I shut the TV, chalked it up to being in LA and went back to being productive around the house. Of course being a man, I can only be productive for so long and eventually I put the game back on. It was early in the fourth and I was shocked to see the Celtics down by only two. I was hooked. I wanted to go to bed, but I just had to stick around to see if the Celtics could complete the greatest comeback ever. You know how this ends. They did. I go to bed happy. And the Celtic Bandwagon just got a little more crowded.
One great comeback in a marquee finals match up washed away the deaths of Len Bias and Reggie Lewis, Larry Bird’s bad back, and years and years of futility. All of a sudden, I’m a Celtics fan again! Beat LA!
I know. I’m as surprised as you are.