Seriously, the greatest thing about this final round has been, at long last, the recognition of Paul Pierce as belonging to the front rank of all-time NBA players.
Paul Pierce is a great player.
A Hall-of-Fame player.
Like Brooks Robinson in the '70 World Series, Bobby Orr in the '72 Stanley Cup, Johnny Bench in the '76 World Series, and Tom Brady in the '04 Super Bowl, Paul Pierce's efforts in these finals have served to illuminate the greatness of a player whose true greatness might have otherwise fallen just slightly below the radar.
And--not that it matters, basketball-wise--not one single player, not even Larry Bird, ever went to school so much on Celtic lore, nor ever was so familiar on the Celtic-Laker rivalry, which was basically the narrative of the league during its breakout years (1959-1969), and then its explosion years (1979-1987). Pierce had about nine thousand opportunities to leave the Celtics for more money and a better chance to win, and continued to repeat his mantra: "No. I want to help build a new winning tradition in Boston. That's what I want to do."
And so, he has. With this one championship, he has.
When, after defeating Detroit, Pierce (born, yes, in Inglewood, in the shadow of the Fabulous Forum) exploded in a chant of "Beat LA! Beat LA!", his teammates responded slowly, as if learning a new song. He knew, they would quickly learn. Me, I thought I was hearing a verse from my youth, when I still looked at the girls in their summer dresses.
God bless Paul Pierce, God bless Red, and damnit, God bless America.