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Dan Shaughnessy

Boston enjoys spoils

Sam Cassell and the rest of the Celtics are at the crest of the latest championship wave to wash over Boston.
Sam Cassell and the rest of the Celtics are at the crest of the latest championship wave to wash over Boston. (Getty Images Photo)
Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / June 19, 2008

Full moon last night. Championship parade today. Seems we get one of each every month.

Take a good look around, sports fans. There will never ever be another time like this. You won't see it again in your lifetime or in the lifetimes of your children.

There's a championship duck boat parade/rally for the Celtics today. Ridiculous as it sounds, these trophy hoistings are getting to be like trips to 7-Eleven for a Big Gulp. You can do it just about any time you feel like it.

We're starting to sound like Forrest Gump when he says, " . . . a few months later, they invited me and the ping-pong team to visit the White House. So I went. Again. And I met the president of the United States. Again."

Certainly our young people are going to get sick of us telling them how spoiled they are. We sound like parents who recite the bygone days of walking to school 2 miles uphill through 2 feet of snow . . . both ways.

But how can the kids possibly know what it's like to wait and suffer? How can they know the local football team was once the biggest joke in professional sports? How can they appreciate a 1981 Patriots game against the equally woeful Colts - a game that drew 17,073 to Memorial Stadium in Baltimore - a game we labeled the Stupor Bowl?

How can they know there was a time when the Red Sox were not in first place every day with five guys leading the All-Star balloting? The Sox went 21 years without playing in a postseason game from 1946-67. They lost 13 consecutive postseason games from 1986-95. They went 86 years without winning a World Series.

Now we have a furniture company promising to give you your money back, but only if the Sox sweep the World Series. For those of us who never knew what it was like to see the Sox play .500 ball, the idea of betting on a World Series sweep seems just a tad entitled and arrogant. But that's the way things are.

What other town could have a world champion basketball team that ranks no higher than third in popularity among the local franchises? Sorry, Celtics fans - the Red Sox and Patriots remain a solid 1-2 in our region and it's going to stay that way for a long while. The Celtics ruled New England in the 1980s, but today's Green have too far to go to catch the Sox and Patriots.

There's a great spirit of cooperation among the three winners. The Sox last week voluntarily changed the starting times of Fenway games to accommodate fans who wanted to watch the NBA Finals. Bob Kraft, John Henry, Larry Lucchino, Tom Werner, and Bill Belichick were easy to spot at courtside during the Celtics' magical run through the playoffs. The Celtics regularly flashed Belichick's image on the big board, and each time he received a greeting that would make the pope blush.

While our streets are paved with gold and champagne flows like tap water, it's impossible not to think about the events of this past February in Glendale, Ariz., when the Patriots came within 35 seconds of giving New England pro sports a triple play for all time. Boston has a Big Three of franchises, and the one that didn't win is the one that went an unprecedented 18-0 - and came within a freak play of going down in history as the greatest team ever. This must have crossed Belichick's mind when he sat in the front row under the basket near the Celtics' bench Tuesday night.

Maybe Bill should try the mantra of "ubuntu" (loosely translated as "I am what I am because of who we all are") as a theme for 2008-09. It worked for the Celtics. And the C's credit pie is shared by the owners, general manager Danny Ainge, coach Doc Rivers, his staff, and the selfless 12 who put team first and played furious defense for 108 games from November through June.

So take pause and take pictures and enjoy what is happening today. Think for a moment how we compare with a city like . . . Philadelphia. It's been a quarter-century since any team from the City of Brotherly Love won a title. They've had plenty of near misses (just ask Arlen Specter or Mitch Williams), but the last title for Rocky-town came when Moses Malone predicted "Fo', fo', fo' " before the Sixers won the 1983 NBA playoffs. Now that is a drought.

Not here. Boston is the city of champions.

The World Series starts Oct. 22. Super Bowl XLIII will be played Feb. 1, 2009, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. The rally for that one figures to be Tuesday, Feb. 3.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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