Celtics Trounce Lakers to Win 17th NBA Title For the 17th time, the Boston Celtics are basketball's champions. The Celtics were explosive on offense and relentless on defense in trouncing the Los Angeles Lakers 131-92 for their first NBA title in 22 years.
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Celtics Trounce Lakers to Win 17th NBA Title

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Celtics Trounce Lakers to Win 17th NBA Title

Celtics Trounce Lakers to Win 17th NBA Title

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

There wasn't much suspense in the final game of the NBA Championship series. The Boston Celtics beat the Lakers by 39 points - 131 to 92. And after more than two decades, the Celtics are once again the NBA Champions, as NPR's Chris Arnold reports.

(Soundbite of cheering)

Unidentified Announcer: (unintelligible)

CHRIS ARNOLD: The Celtics were unbeatable last night. Their defense smothered the Lakers and Kobe Bryant, and Boston's big stars and bench players alike pounded the ball through the hoop.

(Soundbite of cheering)

Unidentified Man: Who's got (unintelligible)?

(Soundbite of cheering)

Unidentified Announcer: (unintelligible)

(Soundbite of cheering)

ARNOLD: That was Celtics shooting guard Ray Allen hitting one of a seemingly endless string of three-point shots. Allen broke an NBA record for three-pointers. He made 22 of them during the finals. Fan Tom Skeebo(ph) was ecstatic after the clock ran out in the fourth quarter.

Mr. TOM SKEEBO: I'm thinking this is absolutely awesome. It's been 20 years, Larry Byrd, unbelievable. (unintelligible) and how fantastic the team played to make this a reality for the fans. Absolutely unbelievable.

ARNOLD: The beauty of the Celtics playing was that the whole team was involved. But if you had to take a hero, it would be Paul Pierce. And Pierce was covered in champagne and jumping up and down and dancing with his teammates in the locker room after the game.

(Soundbite of crowd chatter)

ARNOLD: Pierce has spent his entire career, 10 years in the NBA, with the Celtics. But until this year, he was an all-star player on one of the worst teams in the league. The Celtics lost 18 games in a row last year. At times, Pierce let his body language show his frustration, dragging himself half-heartedly around the court. But this championship year has been redemption for Pierce.

Unidentified Announcer: The MVP of the 2008 NBA finals is Paul Pierce.

ARNOLD: This year, after a flurry of trades brought all-stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to the Celtics, Pierce finally had a great team around him, and Pierce stepped up. He was a rock-solid team captain in the finals. He made clutch free throws with the game on the line. He scored 38 points in game five. He also passed the ball well to his teammates and hustled on defense. After the game, Pierce talked to the crowd.

Mr. PAUL PIERCE (Basketball Player, Boston Celtics): This is unreal. The city of Boston stuck with me throughout all the hard times. I know we didn't have a lot of great years, but you guys right here, you guys stuck with me. And now we're bringing home a champion 17. Yeah!

ARNOLD: Just as fired up was 32-year-old Kevin Garnett, who's been an 11-time all star, but never made it to the finals before this. He talked to ABC.

Mr. KEVIN GARNETT (Basketball Player, Boston Celtics): Man, I'm so hyped right now. Anything's possible. Anything's possible!

ARNOLD: The opposing six-foot-11 Garnett is probably the most intense player in the league. With sweat streaming down his bald head, he lets out battle cries. He bears his chest after big shots. But he's also one of the classiest, hardest working players around. He's the NBA's defensive player of the year. Something in the universe would be out of whack if Garnett never won a championship ring, and now he has one.

Mr. GARNETT: I just want to say, other than my kid being born, this has got to be the happiest day of my life right now. I'm going to be hoarse. I don't plan on sleeping for a week and months. Man, man, man.

ARNOLD: For Celtics coach Doc Rivers, the championship was an especially long time coming. Rivers played in the NBA 13 years and never got a ring. His dad died in November. Rivers was asked what his father would say if he was here.

Mr. DOC RIVERS (Head Coach, Boston Celtics): Well done, and it's about time. That's what he would say. It's about time.

ARNOLD: For his part, L.A. star Kobe Bryant said the Celtics defense was the best he's ever seen. And he said his team needs to work on that and not just focus on offense next year. Chris Arnold, NPR News, Boston.

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