The 2008 NBA Finals had the most significant positive impact on individual legacies since Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson won their first title in 1991. That championship was instrumental in propelling
For Paul Pierce, a star largely neglected, even by his own league for the past several years, grew from potential tradebait (who easily could have played the role of KG on a new team), to a certified superstar. Instead of shopping for a new home in a
Kevin Garnett arrived in
Ray Allen has had the purest shot in the NBA for years, but with his Finals performance he’s elevated himself from being a barber shop mention to potentially a HOFer. Reggie Miller is likely a HOFer primarily on the strength of his 3-point shot, and his clutch performances, and his performance in the Finals pales in comparison to Allen’s, in both regards. Allen’s case would be greatly enhanced with another great Celtics run, but his name belongs on the ballot, even after only one championship.
Doc Rivers personified maligned, considered clueless and overmatched by the Celtic faithful. After winning, he’s not only out-coached the Zen Master, but rallied the troops and delivered them to the promised land. Rivers long held the ire of the fans, but was a revered leader to the people who mattered most, his players. Now he’s coached a team to a championship, and accomplished something that great coaches, such as Don Nelson, Jerry Sloan and Rick Adelman never have. One championship does not guarantee him a lifetime contract, but does command the respect of those who doubted him.
In addition to the positive impact on legacies, two were wounded. Kobe Bryant, who only weeks earlier was being compared to
With the vindication of a coach, the validation of one consensus Hall of Famer, the propelling of two stars into another echelon, as well the tarnishing of two legacies, this Finals stands as the most important in nearly twenty years. The Celtics may go on to win another, but it will pale in significance to their victory in the 2008 NBA Finals.