Worst-to-first Celtics gunning for repeat
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In bold, green letters, two words jumped off the dry-erase board propped up along the baseline at Salve Regina University's gymnasium, where the Boston Celtics began training to defend their NBA championship: "Anythings Possible!!!!"
The apostrophe may have been missing, but the extra exclamation points harkened back to Kevin Garnett's weeping howl toward the roof of the TD Banknorth Garden, after the Celtics proved that anything or at least a worst-to-first run to an NBA championship is possible with a lopsided victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
It really was possible for three ringless superstars to be thrown together one summer, sacrifice individual statistics for the greater good and win a championship in less than 10 months. It was possible for the Celtics to re-assume their position "on top of the world" following a 22-year, misery-filled hiatus. And as Garnett explained while later describing his emotions on the podium, it was possible for a kid to finally knock out the bully who had been picking on him.
The Celtics don't have to look any farther for motivation than their own practice gym in Waltham or in the Garden, where there are constant reminders of the championships won by the league's most storied franchise. When Celtics Coach Doc Rivers wanted to motivate his three all-stars Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Alen before last season, he took them on the duck boat journey that Boston's sports team take during championship parades. This season, Rivers gave Garnett, Pierce and Allen a simple message.
"We are with the Boston Celtics," Rivers said he told them. "If you want to be part of the conversation, you've got to win more than one. Some other franchises, you could probably live off this one for 20 years, but this is Boston and it is different."