Sam and Ray
I am way late with this congratulatory posting on the Boston Celtics winning the NBA championship the other night, but I guess I wanted to take some time to reflect.
Even though I grew up hating the Celtics and loving Magic's Lakers (I really claim no absolute loyalties to any but Wisconsin sports teams) I found myself very pleased with the Celtic's victory for a number of reasons.
First and most obvious (and popular) I hate Kobe. Ever since that cocky little kid came into the league pretending to be like Mike (everything from his speech mannerisms to his body movements on the court) he's just irritated me. Plus I'm naturally drawn to underdogs. I loved seeing the look on his face when he realized that all the work he put in this season would be for naught.
Second, it made my heart swell to see KG finally get a ring. Sounds kinda gay but whatever, that's real. He has always been the epitome and the standard of professionalism for NBA players. Never ever have you heard a peep about off-court issues involving him. He has always given 110% even though up to this point in his career he has always been on mediocre teams that had glaring weaknesses. Never a hint of complaint, never laid down ultimatums to management or pulled any other "spoiled star player" type stunts. As a public figure he has always been an excellent role model. Simple justice demanded that KG get a ring at some point, so seeing him hug Bill Russell in jubilation, well, you didn't have to be a die hard Boston fan to feel the lump in your throat.
But the guys I was most happy for on that team were Sam Cassell and Ray Allen.
The Bucks drafted Ray and from day one he proved that move to be a smart one. When Sam joined Ray and "Big Dog" Glenn Robinson they led us to the brink of a Finals appearance in 2001 before we fell a jump shot short to the Sixers. The team was effectively disbanded and rebuilt a few years later but people in Milwaukee never forgot what a stand up guy Ray was. He did a lot of charity work in the community while he was here and wasn't ashamed to let people know that he thought Milwaukee was a great city. He's been under appreciated his whole career despite having put up HOF worthy numbers and having one of the prettiest shots in league history. Now maybe he will get the props he deserves.
Sam I Am? I've just always liked his game, since he and Charlie Ward guided that unheralded mid '90's Florida State team to a surprising little tourney run. Then he came into the league firing and collected himself a ring with the Clutch City Rockets (along with Rob Horry) while making some key contributions. His is a different brand of cockiness. A kind of unshaken confidence that is catching instead of just being a big turnoff.
So congrats guys. I wish you could have taken the Bucks on that ride, but I guess it just wasn't our time. Couldn't have happened to a better group of players.