The Daily Scribe

Thought Provoking Issues!

Ubuntu . . . I Am, Because We Are

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The literal translation of an idea rooted in African spirituality that means we are all connected, we cannot be ourselves without community, faith and health are always lived out among others, and an individual’s well being is interdependent on the well being of others.

This deep rooted philosophy is what Doc Rivers, the coach of the 2008 N.B.A. World Champions Boston Celtics instilled in the second installment of the Big Three, a label they resist being called in deference to the original threesome of Bird, McHale, and Parish.

Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett now share what has eluded them for most of their careers . . . a NBA title.

The Boston Celtics obliterated the Los Angeles Lakers by 39 points ending a 22 year drought and claiming this storied franchise 17th title.

Arguably the best player, Kobe Bryant, at least on this night was no match for the combination of the Big Three. One man . . . simply was not going to beat . . . the best team.

“They were definitely the best defense I’ve seen the entire playoffs,” Bryant said. “I’ve seen some pretty stiff ones and this was right up there with them. The goal was to win a championship, it wasn’t to win MVP or anything like that, it was to win a championship.”

While it may be true that most championship teams are built around great players, they also must have a supporting cast that can contribute as well. A decisive edge in this series was the contribution of the Celtics’ bench versus the Lakers.

Perhaps Phil Jackson summed it up best, having been denied an opportunity to pass Red Auerbach, the man who had a hand in Boston’s first 16 titles, nine as a coach and seven in the front office . . . “We have to get some players if we’re going to come back and repeat, to have that kind of aggressiveness that we need.”

Doc Rivers, who many thought would be outcoached by Jackson . . . borrowed the word “Ubuntu” to preach a team concept that predicated on unselfish play and stifling defense.His players not only bought into it, but bonded with him because of it.

“This is the reason we came here,” Garnett said. “This is the reason we got together, and Danny made it go down. This is it right now.”

Buying into Doc Rivers’ philosophy is what enabled the Big Three . . . to harness their individual skills and accomplishments to be role models and mentors for the rest of team.

“We sacrificed so much of what we did throughout our careers to get to this point because we’ve done everything we’ve been able to do individually, won all type of awards, but never made it to the mountaintop,” Pierce said. “It’s like a breath of fresh air.”

The road to the title was not an easy one for the Celtics, having been pushed to a 7th game by Atlanta and Cleveland, before dispatching the Detroit Pistons in six. With many of their players saddled with a variety of injuries, other members of the team stepped up and contributed.

“We had bumps along the road. There was frustration,” Allen said. “But we always came back to each other as a team, and to finally win this and prove we’re the best in the NBA this year, everything we went through was definitely worth it. We know exactly what it takes to be the best.”

Doc Rivers pulled Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett with four minutes remaining in the game. Pierce immediately went over to Doc and gave him an emotional embrace . . . Allen and Garnett soon followed.

“They came in as a group, and I thought we should take them out as a group,” Rivers said. “They all said, ‘Thank you,’ and I said, ‘Thank you’ back.

But Pierce had yet another reason to thank his coach. As the longest tenured player on this Celtics team, he thanked Rivers for sticking with him.

After the debacle of last year in which Doc had almost been run out of town, for compiling a record of 24 wins and 58 losses, Rivers thanked Pierce for sticking with him as well.

In the waning moments of the game, Doc Rivers reflected on his dad. By the time he had received the Larry O’Brien Trophy, it was June 18—his late father’s birthday.

“My first thought was what would my dad say,” Rivers said, “and honestly I started laughing because I thought he would probably say, if you knew my dad, ‘It’s about time. What have you been waiting for?’”

As Boston’s faithful and diehard fans celebrate the end of a 22 year drought . . .

Somewhere in the hallow halls of the Boston Garden . . . Red Auerbach is lighting up a cigar and wondering that as well.

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author


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