BOSTON The Boston Celtics did more than win their first NBA championship in 22 years Tuesday night.
They made sure Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson would not pass Celtics patriarch Red Auerbach's nine titles as a coach not this year anyway.
"Somewhere," NBA commissioner David Stern said during the postgame ceremonies following the Celtics' 131-92 victory, "Red is lighting up a cigar."
Auerbach died in October 2006, the year the Celtics began their second-worst season ever, going 24-58 in Doc Rivers' second year as coach. In his first three seasons in the job Auerbach held, Rivers was 102-144 with one playoff series a seven-game loss.
But this season, with the addition of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to go with a third all-star, Paul Pierce, the Celtics had an NBA best 66-16 record, beat Atlanta and Cleveland in seven-game series and Detroit in six games to set up the finals matchup with Los Angeles.
There was little doubt Tuesday night that Jackson would not pass Auerbach.
"This is unreal. Where we came from a year ago, where I was at, to be here today celebrating with my teammates," Pierce, the finals MVP, said. "I'm just glad Doc ... the city of Boston stuck with me during the hard times. But you guys (fans) here stuck with me and now we're bringing another championship team."
Rivers was more than up to matching wits with Jackson, who was considered the better coach coming into the finals.
Auerbach, the coach, has still won more than half of the Celtics 17 championships. But Rivers is putting his own stamp on the team, from the first day the team gathered before the season.
"Defense. I said defense," Rivers said. "We play defense we're going to win the world championship. That's what they did. They were phenomenal all year."
Since 1950, only two teams have won the title a year after missing the playoffs. The 1975 Golden State Warriors and the 1977 Portland Trail Blazers.
Auerbach once minimized Jackson's titles by saying he "picks his spots," implying that his championships resulted from coaching stars such as Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal.
This time, though, the Celtics had the better players.