BOSTON (CBS) - It was the end of the first quarter in Game 7, the 2010 NBA Finals in Los Angeles.
There are a lot of things that are burned into my memory from the Final, I mean, of course there are. But I find myself answering with this one when I get asked about the experience.
I will save for another time, my well-documented feelings on my friend and colleague Doris Burke, to whom it's a ridiculous slight to refer to as the great female NBA analyst, the great female basketball analyst. Because she's simply one of the elite, period, and has been for years.
Anyway, for the games in LA in 2010, and still to this day to their undying credit, the visiting radio position is court side. So for the four Finals games in LA that year, Doris and I were sitting next to each other, with the history literally close enough to touch.
(We will also save for another time, the inconceivable reality that the definition of the word "literally" has now been changed in the dictionary to include the incorrect way people use it. You know, "Dude, he was literally on fire." So now we live in a word where words no longer mean what they're supposed to mean…literally.)
For the four games at Staples, Doris and I sat there, practically kicking each other under the table with this do-you-believe-where-we-are wonderment as a Celtics-Lakers NBA Finals, the show we grew up watching, was playing out in front of us. Part of Doris' job, of course, is the coach's interview at the end of the quarter. That night in Game 7, she went down to grab Doc after the first quarter. I flipped over a stat sheet and drew two circles. A big one, and a little tiny one right in the middle of it. I put it in front of her chair and she picked it up when she got back.
The big circle said "world," the little circle said "us."
That's what the Celtics and Lakers felt like in the 80's. That's what we got to feel again in 2008, and 2010 and in all the regular season meetings after and in-between.
Now you know the story, the Celtics and Lakers meet tonight at the Garden. No national TV. A combined record of 10-25.
Know what? It's still the Celtics and the Lakers.
And the unparalleled history of the rivalry also comes with a renewed sense of faith now after the last few years, that it will be all that again someday.
And if that isn't enough for you, well, we have a whole night of Swaggy P (The Artist No One Ever Refers To Anymore As Nick Young Because Why Would You When You Can Say "Swaggy P"?).
Plus, a decent chance to end this…
FUN WITH NUMBERS
You know about the East-West disparity, an all too frequent part of the November/December NBA narrative. Well, the Celtics have embodied it.
- The Celtics have lost 17 consecutive games against the West and 27 of their last 28
- Wednesday night's OT win over the Pistons was the Celtics' 9th game against the East, of the 16 they've played.
And to underscore that even further, maybe my favorite East/West stat of the first 20 percent of the season:
- In 7 games against the West, the Celtics have trailed by double-figures in all seven
- In 9 games against the East, they've trailed by double-figures in exactly none
The win over the Pistons, by the way, featured a clutch performance by Jeff Green that not only helped end the Celtics' losing streak, it very quietly made history:
I looked it up only in that it struck me guys that shoot a lot of threes, don't get to line like that. And as it turns out, Jeff is just the 44th player to do it in NBA history. It's happened 68 times, and what's odd is in the Pierce, Green and Wesley games, none of them topped 38 points. The average in those games is 46.
The note on the Pierce game, it was Game 4 of the forgotten five-game Celtics win streak in December of 2006. The streak that began with the Paul Pierce buzzer-beater at the Meadowlands, and ended when he couldn't get a shot off at the buzzer 11 days later against Golden State.
A stress reaction in his foot that would cost him the next two months, and force the Celtics deep into that 2007 Winter of basketball discontent, including an 18-game losing streak…
...during which the TD Garden faithful rained down chants of "MVP…MVP" -- not at Paul Pierce who returns on Sunday, but rather the guy who'll be there tonight.
(See how it all ties together)
Kobe Bryant, who if he means what he says, plays his penultimate game at the Garden tonight.
Two numbers of note, the first is obvious.
NBA ALL-TIME SCORING LEADERS
1. Kareem 38,387
2. Malone 36,928
3. Jordan 32,292
4. Kobe 32,194
When you only have to use one name, I mean, that's pretty telling (Grande and Max excluded from that). 99 points. 99 for Kobe and he passes Michael Jordan.
Of course, you have the dichotomy tonight of one of the top ten players in NBA history, playing on what might end up being the worst Lakers team in that history. They play their 20th game tonight on Causeway Street.
And this number, just as telling about the environment in which he now, at age 36, toils:
NBA 2014-15 WORST PLUS/MINUS
428. Mbah A Moute, Phi -189
429. Thompson, Phi -157
430. BRYANT, LAL -155
431. Johnson, LAL -149
432. Wroten, Phi -148
It's one of the most anticipated 42 hours on the Celtics schedule, as the NBA circle of life brings the Celtics' fiercest rivals, and favorite sons in a single weekend. One that began with Kobe and Rajon Rondo holding it down at the Paramount (awesome brunch), and ends with Paul Pierce retuning for Sunday brunch at the Garden.
It may not be the center of the world that Doris and I shared that June night in LA, but the view should still be pretty good.
Sean Grande has been calling Boston Celtics games since 2001. Hear his call of the games alongside Cedric Maxwell on 98.5 The Sports Hub starting 30 minutes prior to tipoff! Click here for a list of affiliates on the Celtics Radio Network.
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