“Anything is possible!” Those were the emotional and inspirational words of Celtics power forward, Kevin Garnett, post-game in the 2008 finals. The Celtics faced off against the Los Angeles Lakers during the finals, where the Celtics won the series 4-2. This would be a huge and monumental championship for not only the team but also the city of Boston.
Hanging in TD Garden were 16 championship banners, and the last one would come in the Larry Bird era. That’s a 22-year drought from one of the best basketball teams in history. So, what was different about 2008?
There are three people that come to mind first. They are known as “The Big Three” — Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. The resilient and undeniably hard-working trio made a huge statement against many doubters about their ability to be a championship caliber team. It started with a trade situation during the 2007 NBA draft, where the Celtics picked up Ray Allen from the Seattle Supersonics. He brought a new dynamic to the offense with his stellar shooting. Later on, the Big Three would be complete. Boston made many sacrifices in order to get Kevin Garnett in the offseason, and it included trading five of their own players. That summer would be the summer of great decisions. These powerful three would bring smiles back to the city of Boston that same season.
With all of the doubts surrounding how the start of the season would be for the Celtics, the team certainly made a huge statement from the jump. People weren’t sure if they had the capability and chemistry to be a championship team contender. The team finished the season with a 66-16 record, and suddenly, many people believed they stood a chance. Kevin Garnett, also known as the Big Ticket, led the defense for the Celtics.
Boston made the playoffs that season and faced off against the Atlanta Hawks in the first round, but it was the matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Celtics that drew fans to the television. Specifically, LeBron James and Paul Pierce. The matchup between “The King” and “The Truth” during game seven of the Eastern Conference semifinals was an absolute thriller. Paul Pierce scored 41 points and led the Celtics back to the conference finals.
Following the down-to-the-wire series against Cleveland, Boston beat the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference finals to make their way to another championship appearance. They would face their rival in the Lakers and the late great, Kobe Bryant. The whole series was close, and Boston even made an amazing 24-point comeback to win game four of the series. In game six, it almost seemed like a perfect game. Ray Allen made seven three-pointers and Kevin Garnett had an all-around beast of a game. The Celtics were back, champs again.
Nonetheless, this team was special. There’s no denying that. The Big Three, the excellent coaching behind Doc Rivers and the supporting cast of players like Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins all brought another championship banner to TD Garden. The grit, defensive presence and trust they had with each other are what made them an all-around threat. The people of Boston finally felt joy again as they rejoiced in the streets after the big win. 2008 was a year of notable champions and a feeling that had been missed since 1986.