Professor Jeff Halliday has called a 'Special Session' meeting of all hoops fans (especially those in Celtic Nation) to address the Boston Celtics and their recent on-court struggles. Wearing a green suit, with a white dress shirt and shamrock-adorned tie including a number '5' tie-pin, Halliday spoke fervently to the attending delegates.
The following is a transcript of his remarks:
"Thanks to one and all for meeting on such short notice. We are here to discuss the Celtics' recent 'losing streak' and the subsequent fallout across the league and media circles. The back-to-back losses to the Wizards this past weekend has caused many NBA experts, fans and concerned citizens to quickly and violently leap off of the proverbial Celtic bandwagon that began with the signing of Kevin Garnett on July 31st, 2007. I am here today to quell this uprising and assuage the fears of fans and pundits alike.
While it's true that Boston has lost three of its last four games, there is no need for panic! Two losses to a quality Wizards team, currently 20-16 and in second place in the East's Southeast Division, are not cause for concern. Last week's loss to the lowly Bobcats stung at first, but it's clear that a young Charlotte squad has played very well of late.
At 30-6 on the season, it is now virtually impossible for the Celtics to top or match the incredible 72-10 run of the 1995-1996 Bulls. But who cares? How can anyone construe 30-6 as struggling? Take a look at those six losses. To the Magic on November 18th by two, the Cavs by five in OT nine days later, the Pistons ten games later by a basket, Charlotte by a dozen on the ninth of this month and the back-to-back losses to the Wiz by a combined 12 points. Add it all up...6 losses by a combined 33 points. That's an average of just 5.5 points difference per loss. We're talking about a two-basket differential...nothing.
I would like my esteemed colleagues across the nation to recall this team's accomplishments, or total lack thereof, only a season ago. The Celtics finished dead last in the Atlantic Division at 24-58, winning just 12 of their 41 home games. As of this moment, this Celtics team is 16-3 at TD Banknorth Garden and has won 83% of their games. An incredible achievement...yet suddenly after dropping two straight games, the pro hoops world is asking, "What's wrong?" NOTHING IS WRONG. Last year the C's lost consecutive games ten different times including streaks of six, eighteen (Yikes!) and eight in a row. This season could go down as the greatest single-season turnaround in NBA history. From 24 wins to potentially 60 plus...unheard of in Beantown since 1979 when rookie Larry Bird led the Celtics to 61 wins a season after the franchise recorded only 29 victories in '78. The NBA 'turnaround' record is 36 games by the Spurs in 1997-1998. If Boston wins 61 games this season, they will break that record. They are on pace to do so. Hear me now and believe me later, that record will be theirs by the time they next face the Wizards in Game 78 on April 9th.
For those of you interested in history, this is the greatest Celtics team of the past two decades. Garnett is averaging 23 points/game, Paul Pierce is at 18/game and Ray Allen is at 16/contest. The Celtics lead the league in opponents points allowed, surrendering only 87 a game whilst scoring 98! Garnett is arguably the best team leader in basketball. Both Allen and Pierce share his desire for glory. This is a team without peers.
Yes, they will lose games. They could even lose twenty plus games (God forbid) if injuries and poor performances pop up from time to time. But to deny their dominance or seek to steal legitimacy from their legacy is just plain insane. This is a Celtics team with three superstars and a modest supporting cast. It's difficult to compare them to a deep team like the '95-'96 Bulls. That season Chicago had the greatest player of all-time in Jordan (averaging 30.4 pts/game), the best sidekick of his era in Scottie Pippen, a 51% 3-point shooter in Steve Kerr, the league's leading offensive rebounder in Rodman and a solid role player in Toni Kukoc. They were also coached by the second greatest (no one tops Red) in-game/mind-melding coach in NBA history in Phil Jackson.
The '07-'08 Celtics have three differing levels of talent. The second coming of the Big 3 in KG, Pierce and Allen...the "I hope they positively contribute" group of Rondo, Perkins, Davis, House and Posey...and the "If these guys are out there, I'm biting my nails and cursing under my breath" group of Tony Allen, Pollard, Scalabrine, Powe and Pruitt. This Boston team is coached by Doc Rivers whom, despite this 30-6 start, has a career coaching record of 303-318 and was 57-107 in his last two seasons in Boston. Though he is a great locker room guy and a source of motivation, this team isn't winning because of Rivers' skill or knowledge. They are winning on guts and talent alone. Phil Jackson he is not. Everyday Rivers should kiss the shoe-tops of Allen and Garnett...without them he would have coached himself out of a job by now.
In closing friends, let us all relax. This Celtics team, barring injury or tragedy, will win the 2008 NBA Championship. It's already decided. Can any team beat them in a seven-game series? The answer is no.
And just so you're aware, this team will be challenging the record books for a while if history tells us anything. After the Bulls' infamous 1995-1996 run, they proceeded to go 69-13 the following year and 62-20 in 1997-1998. An awesome stretch of three straight NBA titles.
By the way, Garnett is signed until 2012, Allen through 2009-2010 and Pierce until the summer of 2011. Get used to it.
Thank you for your time today. I will no longer comment on this issue until after I have purchased my Celtics '2008 NBA Champions' hat sometime in June. Thank you...and God Bless the United States of America."
Post Address Notes:
Halliday left the podium to mostly cheers and some jeers (mostly from bewildered Knicks fans who thought Isiah Thomas was being fired; and from jealous Lakers fans screaming for a 'KG for Kobe' trade). Others in the audience began to sing...
'Because I love that dirty water
Oh, oh, Boston, you're my home'