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Isaiah Thomas and the lovable Celtics

Isaiah Thomas and the lovable Celtics

I’m sure, if you’re a fan of a rival team, you can find reasons to hate the Celtics. So be it. Maybe a Bulls fan, or a Cavaliers fan. I get it. But if you’re honest, you have to respect this team. I think I (gasp) love them more than the 2007-2008 Celtics. They may be the most lovable Celtics team of my lifetime – and I was around for the ’86 team.

They aren’t the most talented team. They’re constantly being attacked in the media. But they’ve got character. They’ve got heart. They’re everything we want to be.

These lovable Celtics are not blessed with the most natural talent. They’re not the biggest or the fastest players. They’ve got a lot of good shooters, but they’re not the best at that either.


The Lovable Celtics

You watch them come together around Isaiah Thomas. You watch them hurt with him and get behind him after the tragic loss of his sister.

The TD Garden in Game One against the Bulls was much more like a wake than a basketball game. You could tell that 18,624 people in the stands wanted to do nothing more than give Thomas a hug. And through it all, the kid played his heart out.

Around him, the team played hard, and you watched on the floor as they went through the stages of grief. After losing game one, the loss in game two was predictable. There’s a point in the mourning process when you just feel empty. It’s one of the tougher things in life, and the Celtics had to play a basketball game.

As much as Rondo’s absence hurt the Bulls for the rest of the series, it was more that the Celtics had really regained their focus and composure that led to them reeling off four straight wins to close out Chicago and move on to the second round.

Hit in the Mouth


In game one today, against the Wizards, you watch them fall down 16 – and you don’t panic. Because you know there’s no quit in these guys. None. Like Rocky Balboa, they keep getting off the mat. Isaiah Thomas literally gets knocked in the mouth, and loses a tooth in the process. And then proceeded to lead his team back from a 16 point deficit and an eventual 123-111 win over Washington.

And then there’s Avery Bradley – the Celtics version of Patrice Bergeron. He’s a great defender, and an all around-solid player. He’s not flashy – he just does everything well. In the course of 10 seconds late in the fourth quarter, Bradley hit a shot-clock beating three, then stole the ball on the other end, and dished to Jae Crowder for a layup to put the Celtics up 14. If game one wasn’t over before, it was then.

He and Thomas are the epitome of this team.

This team hustles for every loose ball. No, they don’t rebound well – but that’s really their only flaw. They commit to screens. They make the extra pass. And sometimes they pass again. I could watch them pass all day.

They get good shots. They play hard on defense. If you’ve got a kid playing basketball, have him watch these Celtics. Brad Stevens’ team plays the game the right way.

And they never give up.

Red would be proud of these kids.


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Mike Cooney
Mike is a lifelong Boston sports fan. He's got a degree in journalism from Northeastern University, and has been writing about sports in various methods since the mid-1990's. He's gotten to meet Bobby Orr, Luis Tiant, Rich Gedman, Nomar Garciaparra, and once shut out Carlos Pena's two twin brothers in a game of foosball at McCoy Stadium.