(Fast forward to 2:25 for the good stuff)
Kevin Garnett repeatedly bowed when the TD Garden’s PA announcer called Bill Russell’s name and beckoned the shot-block king forward to accept his honor as part of the 1961-62 championship team’s 50th anniversary celebration. I might have bowed too, but I was busy trying to hold my iPhone steady so I could record the moment. Believe me, it’s tough to remain relatively still when your knees feel like they’re going to buckle with awe and your feet, sharing the TD Garden court with Russell for the first time, are barely responding to your brain’s requests.
Along with Russell, the Boston Celtics honored Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn, Frank Ramsey, Tom Sanders, Sam Jones and Jim Loscutoff. The 1962 season ended with Boston’s first championship victory against the Los Angeles Lakers (they beat the Minneapolis Lakers once), with the defensive-minded Russell pouring in 30 points to lead a 110-107 overtime triumph. The Celtics beat the Lakers in the Finals again the next season and six more times in the following decade, and wouldn’t fall to their biggest rivals on the NBA’s biggest stage until 1984. (I respect the hell out of Magic Johnson, but ugh, that goddamn sky hook.)
“It’s always good to see the foundation come back, to see why you do this and to see how this thing was built. I’ve always said those guys were the building blocks which built this organization, if not this great franchise. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for guys who come before me, before us, because without those guys we’d have no road map of what we want to be. They set the standard we play for, and I’m glad to be a part of it,” Kevin Garnett said.
Added Paul Pierce, “Whenever you can have the legends come out here, the guys who really set the foundation for this Boston franchise, it’s awesome. Me and Ticket were talking about how that’s going to be us coming back down the road when we get older.”
Anybody plan to be at that reunion in the year 2058?