It was quite a journey from November through April, but nothing could match the playoffs.
From this incredible ride, here are 17 thoughts, comments and observations, in honor of the number of championships the Celtics now have:
1. This isn't the end
This was not a one-and-done season. These Celtics are built for the long haul, with Garnett signed for four more years, Pierce three and Allen two. It will be interesting watching Ainge retool this team with that one veteran-without-a-ring per season like the Patriots have done. With Detroit probably taking a step back, the Celts are the team to beat in the East 2008-09.
2. Garden crowd
It really was like old times. The homecourt advantage was insurmountable. The Kobe Bryant chants — "You're not Mi-chael!" to "Where is Ko-by?" — were classics. Remember the knocks on the place, that it wasn't homey enough?
3. Rivalry returns
Lakers fans will take offense to the embarrassing slaughter in Game 6, and the fact that they are being dismissed as not in the Celts' league. I can't wait for their two regular season games next season. Then maybe 4-7 more in June!
3. West is over-rated
When was the last time anybody said that? The Western Conference was good, with nine teams having a decent shot at being the best of the West. But quantity doesn't always equal quality. If the Lakers are indeed the best team, and they schooled the defending champion San Antonio Spurs, 4-1, how good can the Spurs be?
4. Paul Pierce's words
One of the moving comments heard after the game was from Pierce, talking about finally feeling as if he is on equal footing to some Celtics greats. He said, "All the years talking to Bill (Russell) and John (Havlicek), (Bob) Cousy ... finally, I feel like we've come out of that shadow now and created our own. And now we can stand up and look them eye to eye and say, 'Hey, we accomplished it, too.' "