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As predicted, the hungrier, grittier team won. The Boston Celtics mercilessly crushed the L.A. Lakers, 131-92 at Boston, to clinch the team’s historic 17th NBA championship, the most for any NBA franchise. Two of Boston’s Big Three, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, together with guard Rajon Rondo, came through with big numbers to lead the Celtics charge, and win Game 6 and what was supposed to be a 7-game series, 4 games to 2. Paul Pierce, the series MVP and Celtics’ go-to guy of the past three games played in L.A., was limited to only 17 points amid the tight defense thrown against him by the Lakers. But Rondo more than made up for the slack, scoring 21 . Thus ended a 22-year title drought for the Cinderella Celtics, the second-worst team in the NBA just last season.
It was a classic match-up, pitting the workmanlike, blue-collar Celtics against the flash and dash of the Hollywood Lakers, led by superstar Kobe Bryant.
After returning from Los Angeles with a 3-2 series lead, the Celtics took advantage of their first opportunity to close out a title at home.
A thunderous ovation from the crowd came as the Celtics’ three stars were taken out with four minutes left, and the game out of reach. None had won an NBA championship before this one. Garnett waited 13 years for the moment, Allen 12 years and Pierce 10. They could not hug each other, and their coach, enough on the sidelines.
Team Owner Wyc Grousbeck, put an unlit cigar in his mouth – a tribute to the late, great NBA legend Red Auerbach, the team patriarch who played a key role in the franchise’s first 16 titles.
Boston’s 39-point win surpassed the NBA record for the biggest margin of victory in a championship clincher; the Celtics beat the Lakers 129-96 in Game 5 of the 1965 NBA finals.
The championship was sweet redemption for Celtics coach Glenn “Doc” Rivers, who was rumored to be on the way out following a dismal season last year, but who clung to the lessons taught by his father to hang tough. The elder Rivers died after a brief illness in November 2007, in the infancy of Boston’s 66-win season. Game 6 was held on what was supposed to Grady Rivers’ 77th birthday.
The Celtics were persistent, and unified, throughout the gruelling season, staying true to the African theme – “ubuntu” – they established last fall. The word, introduced to the team by Rivers, literally means “I am, because we are” and was invoked when the Celtics opened training camp. The philosophical concept behind ubuntu is similar to our “bayanihan” or “pagkakaisa”. The Celtics chanted “ubuntu” when breaking from a huddle all throughout their present championship season.
Unselfish play and defense won it for the C’s.
Kobe comes up short in the finals. But like I said before, he’s no Michael Jordan.