Monday, July 28, 2008

Celtics Championship DVD Review

Okay, I know how these things work. The NBA (and the other leagues) churns out a fluff piece about a month after the Finals are over for fans of the team that won. It's essentially just a recap of the season's highlights and then a little more in depth look at the playoffs. But since it was the Boston Celtics, with arguably the most storied history in all of basketball, and since three players had never really come together like this on one team, I was hoping for bit more than the run of the mill DVD. Three players who were multiple time All-Stars, were all the same age (roughly) in their early 30s, but had no championship rings to show for their efforts. Plus, you know...Leon Powe is on the team! Well, to the NBA's credit, they did appear to take some steps in the right direction, especially with a few of the bonus features, but it still felt a little flat to me overall. Maybe it's because all of this was still so fresh in my mind. Who knows, maybe watching it a few years from now will make me appreciate it a little more.

The main feature was roughly an hour long. It started with a montage of Boston players from years gone by in a segment called, "What it means to be a Boston Celtic." That was definitely a good way to kick things off to pay tribute to all the great players that roamed the floor at the Boston Garden. There was so much success for one franchise up until the late 1980s. Then the feature takes a complete 180 and shows the infamous Rick Pitino speech. ( That short outburst epitomized why he failed in the NBA. What a pompous ass. The feature switches gears again by going from a hated part of Boston's past, to their most loved. Red Auerbach died before the start of the 2006-2007 season. I was actually at opening night that year. He was involved in all previous 16 championships and to have him not there was really odd. (To put this into perspective, the team I root for just played their 20th season. The Celtics have 17 championships. That's crazy.) Red's passing was surely an omen because the DVD then touches on those next, awful 82 games. An 18 game losing streak capped off one of the worst seasons in Celtic history.

But then Danny Ainge brought Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett into the fold to join a justifiably frustrated Paul Pierce. The "New Big Three" they were called. The feature then goes on to detail the team's preseason trip to Italy. We see just how big this trip was for everyone on the team to bond. The trip was also where Doc, searching for some kind of motto or phrase to bring to the team together, came across the word, "Ubuntu".

"You live Ubuntu." Doc says.

The word (very loosely translating into togetherness/selflessness) was said by the whole team before running through the tunnel before every game. It was also demonstrated on the court when Ray Allen got the extra pass twice and nailed buzzer beaters versus Toronto and Charlotte. The team is shown celebrating (the Raptors game was only the second or third of the season) and you could see the beginnings of a team that would go on to win 66 games. The focus then shifts to Perk and Rondo as the two men who completed the starting five and ended up growing by leaps and bounds this season. Posey and Leon were then featured briefly as role players who do a little bit of everything - both with great D, Powe dominating on the glass and Posey's outside shot.

We are then treated to the All Star break. The Big 3, Doc and Rondo all took part in the weekend. Not too much coverage here which was a little disappointing. They did show Garnett rooting for Rondo in the rookie/sophomore game though. It was at this point that I noticed Tommy Heinson and Mike Gorman were no where to be found on the dvd thus far. Pretty odd considering they were the tv announce crew in addition to the fact that Tommy was very successful in his playing/coaching days with the Celtics. In fact, I only recall seeing Tommy once and it was on one of the Bonus Features. For all the live action footage (mostly in the playoffs, more on that in a sec) they cut between Grandy and Maxwell (the radio broadcasters) and the Breen/Van Gundy/Jackson crew. Maybe has something to do with with tv channel the Celtics are broadcasted on. Also, does anyone actually listen to sports radio broadcasts besides when they're in their car? Baseball might be the exception because a lot of people grew up listening to radio broadcasts and prefer it to television. (Especially when a certain former Reds second baseman is on...)

Anyway the feature coasts a bit touching on the additions of Cassell and PJ Brown and focus on how the Celtics just had the biggest single season turnaround in NBA history. They did show a "candid" conversation with Doc and Garnett during a practice. They were disagreeing on how early Doc took him out of a particular game. It was light, but in the end, Doc said, "I know I'm right, that's why I did it." and they both chuckled but the point definitely got across. Now when I started this blog before the Finals, I was very critical of Doc's coaching ability. While it is clear he isn't much of an X's and O's guy, he is a player's coach. He's still young enough that he can relate to his guys but old enough that they listen and respect him. He also doesn't appear to talk down to them at all.

Playoffs: This was the best section of the feature part of the DVD. There were some great quotes both during timeouts and recorded later. After Game 2 of the Atlanta series, Leon said, "We looked unstoppable" but had that look on his face of a guy whose team almost got upset by an eight seed. Going into Game 6 versus Detroit, PJ Brown said, "Pierce and Garnett said we are not goin' back home" which would have been their third straight seven game series. They covered the teams inability to win at home but stayed away from how mightily Ray Allen struggled.

Then came the finals versus the Lakers. The "Beat LA" campaign is shown in full swing. A few of the guys talk about how it felt being the underdog. I remember on's Finals page, only 1 of the 8 "experts" picked the Celtics to win. (I believe it was Tim Legler.) I was at the Garden for Game 1 and it was interesting to see how the broadcast managed to capture the insanity in the building. I never thought in a million years that Paul Pierce would come back out on the floor after he hurt his knee. It's been debated about how severe the injury was if an injury even existed. Whatever. If a guy isn't hurt, he's not going to go back to the locker room just to come back and give his team a boost when he could have been playing that whole time. The Leon Powe Game was next and Doc almost redeems himself by saying during a timeout, "Tell everyone to look for Leon, he has Luke Walton guarding him." They show a few of his dunks but that was pretty much it for Leon for the rest of the dvd. I thought it would have been nice to put the feature ABC did on him during halftime that game on as a bonus feature, but it was not included. So it goes.

Raise your hand if you can't guard Leon...

After the Celtics almost won Game Three, we get a look at their practice the next day. Some of the guys were definitely looking a little spent but were still going full speed. It paid off because they somehow managed to engineer the biggest comeback in NBA Finals history. During all of the Finals coverage, the feature gives a fair shake to the Lakers even though they pretty much sucked. Kobe was definitely made to look like a superstar as all of his great plays were highlighted and none of his faults were touched on.

Another thing I noticed is that Garnett and Eddie House talk in the huddle...a lot. And they have very constructive things to add too, it's not just lame stuff like, "Hey, let's play our game." Celtics fans watching this should be breathing a sigh of relief that House resigned with the team. The Game six blowout was fun to rewatch as this time, my head was...a little clearer let's say. And while they show the celebration on the court and in the lockerroom afterwards, there was no addition coverage of the team's parade through Boston a few days later. I know the parade didn't make any stops and no speeches were given like many other teams like to do but I don't think it would have killed the NBA to send a couple of cameras.

Lastly, during the credits they showed a funny post game press conference from a game during the season with KG and Pierce. Garnett talks about how they took a class on how the handle press conferences and how to avoid saying, "you know" and "like" all the time. The two then start busting on each other on who says "you know" more. Garnett answers a question and Pierce keeps butting in with "you know". Then Pierce answers a question and KG counts on his fingers how many times Pierce says it. It reminded me of when comedies play the gag reel at the end of the movie. It was a nice touch.

Overall the feature served its purpose in retelling the season and using the dramatic music in the right places. I could have used a little more player interviews weaved in throughout, but the editing was smooth and the highlights that were chosen fit the overall narrative. I'll touch briefly on the special features in an upcoming post as I didn't count on writing so much about the feature. I would say that the dvd was good enough that every Celtic fan should pick it up, but I really don't think anyone needs my endorsement. It was their first championship in 22 years.

No comments: