BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics are in the NBA Finals, providing Boston sports fans with their 19th opportunity since 2001 to root for the home team in the championship round in the big four sports. It's been quite a run -- and then some -- for sports fans in the region.
Of course, the main driver of that run has been the football team in Foxboro, with Bill Belichick's Patriots kicking off the stretch with a stunning Super Bowl victory in 2001, the first of nine Super Bowl appearances over the past two decades.
Along the way, a certain level of camaraderie has built up among the Patriots, Celtics, Bruins and Red Sox. As teams have fought for -- and won -- championships in their respective sports, they've been welcomed and celebrated at ceremonies in the other teams' arenas and stadiums. Patriots players have dropped pucks at the Garden, Red Sox players have ridden Duck Boats at Gillette, Bruins players have hoisted the Stanley Cup at the 50-yard line, and the Celtics have celebrated their championship with a first pitch at Fenway Park.
Through it all, the one consistent figure has been Bill Belichick, who once again on Tuesday lent his support to another Boston team vying for a title.
"Got another big series for the Celtics, so congratulations to the team, the staff, the organization. Great accomplishment, and I'm looking forward to seeing that play out," Belichick said from OTAs at Gillette Stadium.
As a sign of Belichick's longevity, the first person he mentioned when speaking of the relationships built among Boston sports teams was Rick Pitino, who last coached the Celtics in January 2001.
"It's been great. Yeah, it's been great, going all the way back to when Rick was here when I got here, Rick Pitino," Belichick said. "The Bruins, the Red Sox, the Celtics -- it's been a great relationship with our players and their players and the teams and coaches. From my standpoint, enjoyed, really, all of them. Yeah, it's been great."
Belichick said he's gained some valuable advice from his fellow Boston sports coaches, as there have been some elements of the respective jobs that overlap.
"Yeah, we talk. There's some things in common in Boston," Belichick said. "Pro sports are pro sports. Then when some of those guys move on -- you know, like Doc [Rivers] or Tito [Francona] or Tony [La Russa], who was here obviously briefly, Dave Dombrowski, Theo [Epstein], guys like that -- it's good to stay in touch with them even though they're in different organizations. Still gotta pull for the home team, but there are certain relationships there that extend past the initial introduction."
As for these Celtics in particular, Belichick offered up his own scouting report.
"Well, I mean, obviously they've played great in the last, I don't know, two-thirds of the season, and in the playoffs," Belichick said. "Really consistent. They've got a lot of good players and play really good defense. They're tough, they hustle, they play smart basketball. Pleasure to watch. Fun to watch."
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