Celtics Win NBA Championship

June 19, 2008 Updated: October 1, 2015
Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics goes up for a shot between Pau Gasol #16 and Sasha Vujacic #18 of the Los Angeles Lakers.  (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics goes up for a shot between Pau Gasol #16 and Sasha Vujacic #18 of the Los Angeles Lakers. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The "Curse of the Bambino" in Boston was blamed for one of the longest championship droughts in all of pro sports—with all due respect to the Chicago Cubs.

You all know the story.

Two years after winning a World Series title in 1918, Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold superstar Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees in order to help pay the mortgage on Fenway Park. The BoSox didn't get to hoist another title until 2004.

A similar situation befell Beantown's hoops team.

The Boston Celtics are the NBA's most decorated team with 26 division titles, 20 appearances in the finals—including this year's series vs. the L.A. Lakers—and 16 championships, including eight in a row between 1959 and 1966.

The roof of the TD Banknorth Garden is littered with retired numbers of players and coaches such as Red Auerbach, Robert Parish, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Bill Russell.

Throughout the 1980s, the Celtics captured eight division titles, five conference titles, and three championships.

In 1986, fresh off another championship, when Bird, Parish, and McHale were starting to age, the Celtics decided to bolster the roster in the draft.

Through a trade with the Seattle SuperSonics, the Celtics obtained the second overall pick in the 1986 draft, and selected University of Maryland forward Len Bias.

Bias had impressive credentials, taking home the Atlantic Coast Conference athlete of the year and player of the year awards in 1986. He was a unanimous All-American first team selection.

He was expected to give the Celtics some much needed youth and energy. He would have had great teachers like Bird and company to help him learn the ropes.

Sadly, Bias would never get an opportunity to prove himself to his prospective teammates because two days after being selected, he died of a cocaine overdose.

As The Washington Post's Keith Harriston and Sally Jenkins reported at the time, "Evidence of cocaine was found in a urine sample taken at the hospital as an emergency medical team labored from 6:50 to 8:50 a.m. to revive [Bias]."

Bias became a poster boy for anti-drug campaigns and the Boston Celtics started on a downward slope to NBA mediocrity.

In a series that featured the immortalized Magic Johnson hook shot—considered by NBA.com to be one of the greatest moments in NBA finals history—the Celtics lost the NBA finals in 1987 to the Lakers in six games. The curse of Len Bias had set in.

In the 1990 playoffs, the Celtics would build a 2–0 lead over the New York Knicks only to choke and lose the best of five series 3–2.

The Celtics decline continued when, due to a variety of health problems, including a bad back, Larry Bird retired in 1992.

In 1993, forward Reggie Lewis, who many were expecting to carry the torch in place of Bird, died of a heart attack during off-season training.

During the 2007 season, the team finished dead last in the league with a 24–58 record, and to add insult to injury, were only able to pick fifth in the NBA draft.

Fortunately, GM Danny Ainge pulled off blockbuster deals for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen and the Celtics had an amazing one-year turnaround becoming the best team in the league in 2008.

Although Boston lost Game 5 of the NBA finals to the L.A. Lakers, they came back home to Boston for Game 6 and won, ending a 22-year championship drought. The Celtics beat the L.A. Lakers in six games, winning Game 6 by a score of 131–92.

The Celtics were able to carry their regular season success into the post-season and capture their first title since the days of Bird and McHale.

One long-standing Boston curse was broken in 2004, and now, the Celtics have made it two.