Celtics light cigars, carry trophies as fans line rally route to celebrate 17th NBA title

Associated Press | 6/25/2008, 5:41 a.m.

Players rode in the amphibious tourist vehicles like those used by soldiers in World War II. They also transported the New England Patriots after their Super Bowl championships in February of 2002, 2004 and 2005 and the Boston Red Sox after their World Series victories in October 2004 and 2007.

Now it was time for Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and their teammates to travel a nearly two-mile route from TD Banknorth Garden, the arena where the title was won in the team’s 108th game of a grueling season — 82 of them wins — to Copley Square near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

“We’ve seen plenty of people go through their championship parades,” Allen said, “and never did I think I would be a part of one. It’s great to definitely do it here in Boston.”

Police reported 21 arrests, mostly for disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace. But fans had one last chance to enjoy the team’s first title in 22 years and the area’s sixth in 6-1/2 years.

“Who would have ever thought? Boston. Title town,” said Ryan Stillman, 21, who was born five months after Boston won its last championship on June 8, 1986.

Boston went 66-16 one season after going 24-58, the second worst record in the league.

The mastermind was general manager Danny Ainge, who traded for Garnett and Allen. The field general was coach Doc Rivers. Both let the players absorb the glory.

“As an executive,” Ainge said before the rally, “these guys are like my kids.”

All along the route, fans held signs declaring “Sweet 17,” the number of Celtics championships, and “Have a Cigar.”

The rolling rally didn’t make any stops, but fans saw Pierce, Garnett, James Posey, Leon Powe and Sam Cassell chomping on stogies. And they saw 289-pound rookie Glen “Big Baby” Davis travel along the route topless, showing that not all his baby fat was gone.

Co-owner Wyc Grousbeck got a congratulatory call from President George W. Bush on Wednesday. Last Thursday, he thanked fans.

“I would say you guys made it happen,” he said. “There was no way the Lakers could win when they stepped on the floor in Game 6 with the electricity in the building. I know who won the game, and it was actually the fans.”

(Associated Press)