EL SEGUNDO, Calif. Doc Rivers wanted his new Big Three to start thinking about a championship. Kevin Garnett would have preferred more sleep.
But Garnett answered the early morning wake-up call and joined Paul Pierce and Ray Allen for a meeting with his new coach one day last fall.
Garnett was told to be at Rivers' place he didn't even know where it was at 8 a.m. The group then set out for a trip on Boston's Duck Tour, a land and sea journey around some of the city's historical sites.
"I don't think the three of us were real happy about that, but we finally got there," Garnett said Saturday. "We were all settled and said, 'What are we doing here?' And then all of a sudden this boat basically on wheels pulls up, and he was like, 'This is what we're going to do this morning.' Me, myself was looking at him like, 'Are you serious?' This could have waited till the sun came out, you know.
"Anyway, we got on and he told us, 'This is the goal. This is the goal right here. Whenever you're successful in this city and you've won, this is what you take. This is the Duck Tour right here."'
A popular tourist attraction, the Duck Tour passes along places such as Bunker Hill, Boston Common and Quincy Market, before going into the Charles River. To a Boston athlete, it's better known as the parade route to celebrate a championship.
Though he's played for the Celtics since 1998, Pierce had never taken the tour. Like Garnett, he wasn't sure why he needed to be up so early, but Rivers' motivational ploy worked.
"Doc said, 'You know, this is what they're going to do if we win a championship,"' Pierce said. "So it kind of like set the foundation, like, hey, this has got to be our motivation."This is the pictures you see in our hallway and our practice facility of the guys celebrating, and it was just like, man, to be able to do this the second time will be great because the first time was obviously with Doc, being that I've never been before, and I said, 'Next time I get on this Duck Tour, it's going to be when we win the championship.' And I promised that."
COMEBACK OR CHOKE: Comeback or choke?
Game 4 of the NBA finals featured one of the greatest rallies in NBA playoff history. So did the Boston Celtics win the game, or did the Los Angeles Lakers lose it?
"I think it was our mistake losing that Game 4," Lakers forward Vladimir Radmanovic said. "They didn't do anything special in that game. They just kept defending and we couldn't find anything on offense."
The Lakers led 35-14 after one quarter, opened as much as a 24-point bulge, and were still ahead by 20 midway through the third quarter before the Celtics stormed back for a 97-91 victory that gave them a 3-1 lead in the series.
It was the biggest comeback in the NBA finals since the Elias Sports Bureau became the league's official statistician in 1971, surpassing a 20-point rally by Houston against Orlando in 1995.
The Celtics didn't particularly care whether they got enough credit for what they did to make it happen."People can say how they want to say it," guard Ray Allen said. "We won. I think everybody has their own different spins."
HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED: Things could be worse for the Los Angeles Lakers, who are facing elimination in the NBA finals: At least they haven't been hit with a killing curse, pursued by dementors or forced to live with Muggles.
That's how Kobe Bryant is looking at things after reading a Harry Potter book to his daughters Thursday night following the Lakers' 97-91 in Game 4 in which Los Angeles blew a 24-point lead."They just wanted me to read to them. And I swear it was awesome," Bryant said with a laugh on Saturday. "He had more problems dealing with Voldemort than what we have dealing with the media and the Celtics. So that was pretty awesome."
ON THE COURT, NOT IN IT: Paul Pierce was asked Saturday if there were any similarities between himself and another All-Star forward, Denver's Carmelo Anthony.
"I've never gotten a DUI," Pierce said to huge laughter at the Lakers' practice facility.
Anthony was arrested on a DUI charge on April 14 in Denver.
Pierce chuckled a bit after this response, then praised Anthony for his play on the court.
"I'm not taking a shot at Carmelo. I actually love Carmelo," Pierce said. "But I guess you could say there's a lot of similarities, man. He's a 6-8 forward who can go inside and out, do a lot of great things on the court, still learning the game."But he's still a young player. He still has a lot more room for improvement, and you know, the way he's looking and the way he started his career, he can probably be a lot better than me when he's all said and done."
LIKE MAGIC: For a Los Angeles Lakers guard, not much can top being mentioned in the same breath as Magic Johnson.
Derek Fisher experienced that Saturday after practice, when the Pro Basketball Writers Association presented him with the Magic Johnson award, given to a player in reward of his performance on the court combined with his cooperation with the media.
"I mean, anything where I'm compared to him is the best award in the world, and that's probably the only place I could ever be compared to him," Fisher said.
Fisher, the president of the NBA players union, has been praised for helping raise awareness for the type of eye cancer that affected his daughter, Tatum. Fisher rejoined the Lakers this season so he could be in a large city that would afford Tatum better treatment.
"It's definitely humbling to think that I've been able to carve out, so to speak, the type of career that I have on the court," Fisher said.
"But to be able to carry the messages that my parents instilled in me a very long time ago, my mom and dad, about respecting other people, no matter who they are, where they're from, and carrying a certain amount of humility that is required at all times, to be recognized for basically being a human being and not being a supernatural athlete I think is a cool thing, and I'm very appreciative of receiving the award."
NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION