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The pride is back

The pride is back

A fired up Kevin Garnett gestures to the crowd at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston just before tipoff of Game 1 of the Boston Celtics’ NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals Series aganst the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, May 6, 2008. KG and the rest of the Celtics are just four wins away from the franchise’s 17th NBA championship. Standing in the way are league MVP Kobe Bryant and the Western Conference Champion Los Angeles Lakers. (AP photo/Winslow Townson) 

    After an abysmal 24-58 record last season, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers (top) came to training camp this year with three big reasons to think his squad’s fortunes would change: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. The three All-Stars sparked a remarkable turnaround that saw the C’s surge to an NBA-best 66 wins and a berth in the NBA Finals, which gave captain Pierce (34) and newcomers like reserve guards Eddie House and Sam Cassell (from left, around Pierce) plenty to smile about. (top: AP photo/Paul Sancya; middle: AP photo/Duane Burleson)

Jimmy Myers has been around Boston sports for decades. In that time, he has learned a few things about making predictions.

“I don’t make them,” the longtime radio personality said.

Myers is a smart man.

No telling who will become the next NBA champion. Not even the most die-hard Boston Celtics fan is saying their team will dominate Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in their best-of-seven series, set to tip off tonight at 9 p.m.

“I don’t know which of these teams will be able to finish what they started,” Myers said. “Let’s just say that this year’s Celtics are the team of destiny, as many have suggested, and that this team is somehow blessed with the spirit of the late Red Auerbach, and that he is shining down from heaven. There’s [still] no guarantee that they can beat the Lakers who are coached by Phil Jackson, a man who has won nine NBA championships.”

True indeed.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers hasn’t won a championship yet. Neither have any of the Celtics’ starters.

And that is particularly frustrating for long-suffering Celtics fans, who grew accustomed to seeing NBA championships almost every year. From 1957 to 1986, the Celtics won 16 titles. But the last title was 21 years ago, and the intervening years saw not only losing squads, but also tragedy.

Highly regarded University of Maryland forward Len Bias was selected by the Celtics with the second overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft, but died of a drug overdose less than 48 hours later.

Another potential star, Northeastern University product Reggie Lewis, worked his way to become the Celtics team captain. But he died after suffering a heart attack on the court during an off-season practice at Brandeis University in July 1993.

And then Red Auerbach, the legendary architect of the Celtics’ greatest successes, died on Oct. 28, 2006.

The lengthy title layoff and lack of championship experience on this team doesn’t deter longtime resident Allen Platt from predicting a Celtics victory in seven games.

Platt, 57, has covered high school and professional sports in Boston for the last 25 years, and is particularly fond of his time covering the Celtics from the mid-1970s to 2000.

He likes this current Celtics team — even has season tickets — and is quick to point out that he doesn’t make the rookie mistake of comparing the trio of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to the 1980s “Big Three” of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, or other collections of Celtics greats from earlier eras.


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