After his Philadelphia 76ers fell 85-75 to the Boston Celtics in Game 7, Doug Collins gave a press conference that swelled with graciousness and class.
He clearly has the utmost respect for the Celtics, and he let the world know even while hurting from his team’s tough defeat.
“I don’t look at them as the Big Three,” he said. “I look at them as the Championship Four. If you leave Rondo out you’re making a huge mistake because that guy has become the motor that drives this team.
“Ray Allen, the all-time greatest three-point shooter in the NBA. Absolutely one of the classiest human beings you could ever want to be around, works as hard as any athlete I’ve ever seen. With my broadcasting, I’d always go and I would watch guys’ routines, and how every day he put the time in on his job.
“Kevin Garnett — I met Kevin Garnett when I was coaching the Detroit Pistons. He came out for the draft and I met him in a hotel room, and walked away saying, ‘This kid is special.’ I know all the years that he put in Minnesota. For him to come over here and get a chance to be champion is fabulous.
“I look at a guy like Paul Pierce and he’ll go down as arguably the greatest scorer in Celtics history. If he’s not there yet, he’s probably going to do that.
“What I think about is how organizations change and how quickly they change. They lost 18 in a row the one year. 18. And they were disappointed because they didn’t get the first or second lotto ball. They make a deal to get Ray Allen — they wanted to get Kevin Garnett first, but he didn’t want to come here initially because he didn’t think they had enough. So they make a deal to get Ray, then they get Kevin.
“But more importantly, the sacrifices of those three guys, each giving up a little bit of themselves so they could be a championship team. My hat is off to them. I remember talking to Doc Rivers about it when it happened, and he said it was the right time for them to be able to do something like that because they had all been in the league long enough to sacrifice individual stuff for team stuff.
“And so my hat is off to them. They’re wonderful people, they’re champions as athletes, and they represent the NBA the way it should be represented.”