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Saturday, 20 September 2008

How to Climb a Mountain – Boston Celtics Edition

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Perhaps you know the great author Paulo Coelho from Brazil. He wrote the international bestseller, The Alchemist. Recently I was reading a collection of short stories by Coelho, Like The Flowing River. One of the many stories in this book that touched me was How to Climb a Mountain.

The same principles in that story can apply to the Boston Celtics of 2007-08, I realised. So, without further deliberation, here is the ...a stern warning interpretation of How to Climb a Mountain – Boston Celtics Edition.

Choose the mountain you want to climb

After several dry years, the Celtics craved NBA title success again. The fans of Boston have seen many titles over the years and accept no less than the best as a measure of a team. So management of the team in green set the mountain they had to climb as the NBA title. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were complicit in this aim.

Find out how to reach the mountain

Years of suffering and hard work by the Celtics' new Big Three had taught them exactly what was needed to reach that mountain – the NBA title. They knew that to win they had to give up any personal accolades, in favour of a greater team goal.

Learn from someone who has been there before

In order to climb a mountain, you need to get advice from someone who has mastered that achievement in the past. The Celtics realised this and brought in the help of previous title winners in James Posey and Sam Cassell, to add that winning touch to their array of talent in the leadership group. Not stopping at that, Kevin Garnett also took on the personal tutelage of perhaps the greatest mountain climber of all time, Bill Russell.

Dangers, seen from close to, are controllable

When you are climbing the mountain of your dreams, look out for imperceptible cracks and things that may trip you up. If you keep out an eye for potential problems as they approach you, you will reach your goal without issue. The Celtics achieved this through the guidance of Doc Rivers and through the veteran presence of the Big Three, who had experienced plenty of media scrutiny in their time. They did not allow the media or fan expectations to hinder their reaching the top of the mountain.

The landscape changes, so make the most of it

On the way up the mountain, you must never forget your objective – to reach the top. However, you should also enjoy the view on the way up, as you may otherwise miss things that you have never seen before. The Celtics had an unbelievable regular season, punctuated by a successful run through the playoffs. It was a special group that was put together and you could tell that they were enjoying themselves on the way up the mountain.

Respect your body

If you want to get to the top of that mountain, you must treat your body like the temple that it must be in order to make that climb. Nobody in the NBA exhibits that dedication to one's body better than KG. His single-minded resolve to win surely rubbed off on that Celtics team.

Respect your soul

Whilst perhaps no coach has ever exceeded Finals opponent Phil Jackson's ability to enter the soul of his players, Doc Rivers certainly did an admirable job of moulding this group of newly connected stars into a cohesive group that went all the way.

Be prepared to go the extra mile

At the beginning of the off-season, this Celtics team was group of young, exuberant also-rans. Danny Ainge was not prepared to settle for mediocrity and acquired not just one, but two superstars to add to the group – in short, he went that extra mile to climb that mountain.

Be joyful when you reach the top

There was no shortage of celebrations in Boston upon the Celtics' title win, which coincided nicely with a year of victories in the greater Boston area. All you had to do was look at the joy and relief on KG's face when it was all over to know, this team were indeed joyful about their achievement after waiting so long to get to the top of that mountain.

Make a promise

The Celtics have not (to my knowledge) made one of those tired public guarantees of a repeat title, but you can bet that they are all dedicating themselves internally to doing it all again. After all, the most important promises are the ones you make to yourself.

Tell your story

This is where all of you have come into play as team members of the Celtics. All of the great bloggers from CelticsBlog to Red's Army to Loy's Place to Green Bandwagon have done a fantastic job of proclaiming the success of the C's in this wonderful run they have had. Even in the lean years, the Celtics have always enjoyed one of the strongest armies of bloggers. Success breeds success.

Credit inspiration for this post: Like the Flowing River, Paulo Coelho, Harper (2005) pp 12-15.

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Anonymous said...


I'm a big fan of Paulo Coelho! You will love this! He's the first best-selling
author to be distributing for free his works on his blog:

Have a nice day!


Dodge Taylor said...

Hi mate,

Just a quick note to say I really enjoyed the Paulo Coelho inspired post. I`m a big fan of The Alchemist and I`m surprised to see a basketball blog tie in to the work of Coelho. Altho, saying that I did read ages ago that Ray Allen`s favourite book is also The Alchemist.

Thanks also for the reference to my blog in the past and the link in your site. Greatly appreciated.

Keep up the good work with the Blog and go the Bullets (maybe next season)!

Dodge Taylor

mookie said...

Thank you both for taking the time to write a comment and reading my blog. I've been away for a few days, so I've been a little late in replying!

Paulo Coelho's blog is truely inspiring -- thank you for directing me there Aart.

Dodge, I'm hoping the Bullets will be back next year... and I hope the Kings will be too!

Dodge Taylor said...

I'm confused ... your handle is Mookie, which I assume is a reference to one of my fav players Mookie Blaylock, yet your profile pic is Terry Porter??

I know people who know people and I'm starting to think it might take more than a year to get the Bullets back in the league ... but fingers crossed sometime soon.


mookie said...

Dodge, funnily enough, my parents nicknamed me mookie when I was young -- butI ended up liking Blaylock as a player after that. And then to tie it in even more after that, my favourite band, Pearl Jam almost named one of their albums after him!

You're right though, that is Terry Porter in the pic -- well spotted :) The Blazers are my favourite team.

That's a shame that the Bullets may take longer than that to get back into it... IF this new league structure comes about next year, I hope they are part of it.


Dodge Taylor said...


Pearl Jam actually wanted to name their BAND, Mookie Blaylock!!

I remember we nicknamed Terry Porter "peanut" from how he looked on NBA Jam. One of my friends was a Blazers fan which was Drexler and Porter at that time. My Hawks with Dominique and Augmon used to take care of them tho.

Fingers crossed for the Bullets


mookie said...

Hahaha Dodge, you're right!! I can't believe I got that wrong about Pearl Jam actually... spot on, they were going to call themselves after Blaylock. I even have a PJ t-shirt with "10" and "MOOKIE" written on the back.

Ahh, the good old days of NBA Jam. The Hawks certainly were tough to stop with the Plastic Man and the Human Highlight Film dunking all over everyone!

-- Mookie