Friday, February 23, 2007

The One Boston Celtic I Could Never Hate

I'm planning to post some Oscar predictions by the end of the day, but for now, I wanted to link to a post I wrote for my sports blog about Dennis Johnson, a former NBA player who passed away yesterday at the age of 52.

I hated the Boston Celtics as a kid. Their rivalry with the Detroit Pistons in the late 80's and early 90's formed my identity as a sports fan. But no matter how much I despised Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Danny Ainge, I couldn't quite work up the same level of disdain for D.J. Actually, I kind of admired the guy.

He finished one of the most infamous plays in NBA playoff history to beat the Pistons in Game 5 of the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals, and that was typical of his career. He wasn't flashy or boastful. He was just a really good player who did what was necessary to help Boston win a game.

In so many ways, he reminds me of one of my favorite players, Joe Dumars. He could hit the big shot. He could defend the other team's best player. And he did it with a quiet grace. All while making damn sure he beat you.

Hearing the news of D.J.'s death yesterday was shocking to me. And truly saddening. 52 years old is far too young an age to die.