NBCSB has another winner in documentary on 2008 Celtics

The Celtics’ peak was unforgettable.

Paul Pierce Boston Celtics
Paul Pierce holding the 2008 NBA Finals MVP trophy and a victory cigar. –Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

NBC Sports Boston has a helpful remedy for Celtics fans still feeling the hangover from Sunday’s Game 7 loss in the Eastern Conference finals: a look back to a time not so long ago when the Celtics overcame all obstacles — including Le­Bron James and the Cavaliers — en route to the franchise’s 17th NBA championship.

The two-hour documentary “Anything is Possible: The Story of the 2008 Celtics,’’ with a premiere showing Tuesday at 8 p.m. on NBCSB, covers in depth all of the aspects that made the 2008 NBA champ­ions so compelling: the dynamic among superstars Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen; the ascent of young players Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins; the team’s camaraderie (known as Ubuntu); and the legendary competitiveness of its stars.


“When you’re in the NBA, you’re always around competitive guys,’’ said Brian Scalabrine, a reserve on the 2008 champions and now a Celtics analyst on NBCSB. “But that was a different level. It was almost hard to survive day in and day out.’’

The doc takes a deep dive into the acquisitions of Garnett (from Minnesota) and Allen (from Seattle) by president of basketball operations Danny Ainge in the offseason. They joined Pierce in Boston to form the first of the modern NBA super­teams, with established stars uniting in a quest to win a championship together.

“I know it’s happened in the past,’’ said Scalabrine, “but not like this, where everyone sort of failed the year before. It was amazing to see how quickly it came together.’’

The ’08 Celtics knocked off James and the Cavs in seven games in the Eastern Conference finals, with Pierce scoring 41 points to counter James’s 45 in the clincher. They then won a renewed rivalry with the Lakers in the Finals in six games.

The Celtics’ peak was unforgettable. But Scalabrine said he knew the team was truly special when it could play badly and still win with relative ease.

“I was on the Celtics before that [in 2006-07, when they won 24 games], and we’d go ­into Chicago, play so hard, and get our [butts] kicked,’’ he said. “The next year, we went in there I think in March and came away with something like a 17-point win and we played awful. It made me think, ‘How good is this team really, when you can play that bad and win the game like that?’ ’’


The documentary is narrated by Donnie Wahlberg, a familiar voice on this sort of thing but a likable one given his genuine fandom. It includes interviews with 21 people, including 11 of the 13 members of the postseason roster.

It’s a pleasure to hear from some of the secondary players on the roster, including P.J. Brown, the reserve forward who hit an enormous shot in the Game 7 defeat of the Cavaliers.

Marc Spears, who covered the Celtics for the Globe that season and is now with The Undefeated, is one of the two reporters included in the doc, along with Michael Holley, also a former Globe Celtics beat writer. Spears, who is as plugged into the NBA as just about anyone, had told producer Jim Aberdale that Brown was a private person who might be difficult to track down for an interview.

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“When we started to talk to Marc about this, he said, ‘Here’s who you’re going to have trouble with, Jim. P.J.’s a recluse,’ ’’ said Aberdale. “Long and short, Marc gave us a number of someone who knew him, and we kind of took it from there.’’

It took multiple calls to track down Brown. But they got him.

“He was great,’’ said Aberdale. “We went down to get him at his home [in Louisiana], sat with him for an hour at least, and he was great, a huge sports fan.’’

The enigmatic Garnett and Allen, who alienated his former teammates by joining the rival Heat as a free agent after the 2012 season, are the two who did not sit for individual interviews, though archival footage of past conversations was used.

The Allen situation still lingers with some of his former teammates, particularly Garnett and Rondo.

“We’re not doing a story on 2008 and shying away from the Ray situation,’’ said Aberdale. “We’re going to do it respectfully and not try to make it worse. We’re not going to dig a grave for anybody. We’re trying to tell the real story. Why did this happen? And what did you feel at the time? And why did it turn into something?


“It’s a family that got into a fight. And it seems like they’re on the road to patching things up. But it’s still out there.’’

The documentary isn’t solely about the 2008 Celtics, but how they came to be, and what happened after they won. It is in essence a sequel to NBCSB’s superb doc on the beloved 1986 Celtics, which debuted two years ago.

This film addresses in compelling detail all of the terrain in the 22 years from the 16th championship to the 17th, including the departures of the original Big Three, the Rick Pitino years, the likable Pierce/Antoine Walker teams of the early 2000s, the purchase of the franchise by current owners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca, and more.

“I was passionate about [taking the broader look],’’ said Aberdale. “We did the ’86 one, and in the end, we did in a quick manner what happened afterwards. I thought that it was important to pick it up from there with this.

“I thought it was important for people that aren’t old enough to remember it or for those of us who lived through the Pitino mess to understand or be reminded of how they got to 2007-08.’’

Then Aberdale said something that also could apply to the 2017-18 Celtics.

“That’s the thing about being a sports fan,’’ he said. “It can be as interesting watching a team deal with adversity on its way to becoming a champ­ion as it is watching them win.’’


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