Celtics play-by-play announcer Mike Gorman said he knew the team had returned to the public consciousness one day when he was stuck in Boston traffic near the State House on the way to an event.
"I was running a little bit late and there were about six cars in front of me who were all going to take a right [at the next intersection]," said Gorman. "I wanted to go straight. So I swung out into the passing line to go by the cars and about three cars into it, out stepped a state trooper from the sidewalk. He put his hand up to stop me. I was putting down my window thinking, 'What am I going to say?' and he got about 10 feet away and said, 'What do you need, Mike?' I wanted to pick up the phone and call [Celtics ownership] and say, 'We're back!' "
Gorman said the club's success is all the more impressive because it is hard to turn around a franchise swiftly in the NBA with the abundance of long-term contracts.
"To come as far as quickly as this team has come is remarkable," said Gorman. "I've always felt that in college basketball the teams take on the personality of the coach and in professional basketball they take on the personality of their best player. This team has taken on Kevin Garnett's personality. He's very much a nose-to-the-grindstone, I'm-going-to-outwork-you kind of guy. He always has been. He's an old soul and he's wise beyond his years. They're fun to be around, they're a good bunch of guys but they're all business."
Gorman said Danny Ainge is the chief reason for the turnaround because he followed a definite plan.
"I thought Danny was always very consistent all along, but people didn't want to hear it," said Gorman. "What he kept saying was, 'I'm going to gather here as many good young players as I can and one of two things is going to happen - either they're going to come together and jell, or I'll be able to use them as chips to get veteran players to become a better team that way.' "
There were times when coach Doc Rivers was taking serious heat for the team's misfortunes, and Gorman said it was unfair.
"He's finally getting a chance to show what he can do," he said.
The Celtics' run has made
"Winning sells and we look to take advantage of that," said Bill Bridgen, who earlier this week was named the new executive vice president and general manager of Comcast SportsNet New England. "To me, it's an opportunity and we'll be extremely opportunistic in the fact that the Celtics are [20-3] and on the way to great things. We want to be the home for the Celtics, so when a game is on TNT and when TNT signs off, we want the fans to flip over to Comcast SportsNet as the home of the Celtics for the postgame show and for the insight, the critiques, the commentary, good and bad. The ratings are phenomenal. You've got more people watching the product and therefore there's more we can take advantage of."
Heating upNESN will air a special edition of its Red Sox Hot Stove series Christmas Eve at 9 p.m. to pay tribute to military families from New England. Pitcher Curt Schilling, who will handle the voiceover duties at the start, will be featured in an interview with Tina Cervasio in which he tells of growing up in a military family and how it shaped him. The show also will chronicle some Red Sox fans in the military and their families . . . The Northeastern at Boston College men's basketball game can be seen on NESN at 4 p.m. tomorrow with Don Orsillo and Abu Bakr calling the action . . . NESN invited Sox fans to vote for the best three regular-season games from 2007, and will show them beginning Christmas night at 8. The first is the Mother's Day Miracle May 13, followed the next night by the seven-run comeback against Tampa Bay Sept. 11, and rounded out with the Sox clinching the American League East Sept. 28 . . . If you want a break from college bowl games, NBC will be airing something unique at 1 p.m. New Year's Day, when the first outdoor game in NHL history will be staged at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo with the Sabres facing the Pittsburgh Penguins. Bob Costas will host the coverage and will be joined by veteran play-by-play announcer Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk (analyst), Mike Milbury (studio analyst), and Darren Pang (inside the glass reporter). Costas said it took him all of five seconds to agree to be the one setting the scene. "I don't think you have to be somebody who follows the NHL day in and day out to enjoy it as an event, and that's the way I'll try to set it up. It will feel special because it is special." . . . ESPN anchor Stuart Scott will return tonight for the first time since Nov. 26 when he left the "Monday Night Football" game for an emergency appendectomy. The operation revealed a malignant tumor. It was removed and Scott had a second surgery to take out the surrounding tissue. He is scheduled to undergo preventive chemotherapy over the winter. Scott's first assignment will be the NBA doubleheader and he will host an NBA studio show on ABC Christmas Day. In a statement, Scott said the ordeal was a shock but he's thrilled to be back. "The doctors are confident they got all the bad stuff," he said. "I'm not the type of guy to let this eat up my life. I've got strong faith and family and friends who are tackling this with me."
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.