BOSTON — One by one, they were removed from this bonkers blowout, this emasculation of Kobe Bryant and shredding of the Phil Jackson mystique. One by one, the Big Three gravitated toward each other and locked arms on the bench, hugging and taking in the roars of title-drunk New England. But really, an entire sports nation should stand and applaud Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and the Boston Celtics organization.
They have written a script on how to revamp a slumping franchise in mere months. They have shown other NBA teams — hello, Jerry Reinsdorf and John Paxson — that a couple of dynamic deals for star players can lead to a quickie championship. They’ve successfully emphasized the wonders of defense, old-school hustle and sweat, to the point of embarrassing Bryant in his supposed Jordanesque coronation. And they’ve blown apart the modern ego-and-greed assumption that three great basketball players, with a collective 25 All-Star Game appearances, couldn’t possibly compromise themselves and meld as one for immediate, purposeful glory.