By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Dark times have fallen upon the Boston sports landscape. The darkest of times, some might say.
Shield your children’s eyes, board up your windows and make sure your pets are safe and secure. Because this is ugly: Boston will not be winning all four professional sports championships within a calendar year.
The region might never recover.
This is the new reality, after the once-promising Boston Celtics turned into the city’s greatest sports disappointment, in a season that crumbled, cracked and collapsed all year long, a season that finally — mercifully, some might say — perished on Wednesday night in Milwaukee.
As time went on, it became clear that this year’s Celtics team was not going to be what we all thought it would be. After the Celtics reached Game 7 of the conference finals last year without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, after LeBron James threw up deuces to the Eastern Conference, after some tremendous playoff experience gained by the highly talented young core, and after the return of Irving and Hayward, everything was laid out for the Celtics to stroll to the NBA Finals. Against the mighty Warriors, they’d have a puncher’s chance.
Alas, a dreadfully disappointing regular season — one full of drama, infighting, and eyebrow-raising quotes on a regular basis — the championship expectations were lowered. By everyone.
But then … a four-game sweep of the Pacers … and an absolute beatdown of the top-seeded Bucks in Game 1 of the conference semifinals. We all shared a brain in thinking … maybe this team really *does* have enough talent to “flip the switch” and roll right into the Finals. IT’S ACTUALLY HAPPENING.
And with that strong postseason start, you started to hear about the Boston Slam. The Grand Salami of sports, all concentrated in the Hub of the Universe, all sitting in The City on the Hill, all hanging out in … the City of Notions? (That’s a real nickname for Boston? You learn something new every day, folks.)
Boston, a city that has hosted six Super Bowl parades, four World Series parades and one parade apiece for the Stanley Cup and Larry O’Brien Trophy, all since February 2002? A city with a complete and utter embarrassment of riches with regard to sports success.
This was the city that the sports gods wanted to reward with the holiest tetrad. A World Series. A Super Bowl. A Stanley Cup. An NBA title. In rapid succession, over a span of eight months.
Thanos was lining up his infinity stones for Boston as the rest of North America looked on in horror. There was nothing anybody could do to stop it.
It was going to be a historical moment, a capstone for a two-decade run of dominance for the city of Boston and the people of New England.
But then, rather quickly, it was no longer happening. After a 22-point win on the road over the Bucks, the Celtics lost Game 2 by 21 points. Then they lost Game 3 by seven. Then Game 4 by a dozen.
Kyrie Irving was falling apart. The rest of the team followed his lead. (Maybe he really is a leader.)
In Game 5, with a chance to at least show some fight, the Celtics did not. They were outscored in every single quarter en route to a 25-point blowout loss to put the season out of its misery.
And so, the dream (or nightmare, depending upon your geographical positioning in this world) is dead. The city of Boston won’t enjoy four pro sports championships in an eight-month window.
The poor, suffering fans of Boston sports may have to settle for only winning three.
And, in what is truly a grisly, horrific scenario … they may have to settle for just two.
Oh, the humanity.
Less than 24 hours after the Celtics’ season ended with a dense thud, the Bruins will open their conference finals on home ice. We’ll have to just wait and see if the local fans can find the strength, resiliency and courage to actually show up to the Garden.
It won’t be easy, but at this devastating moment in American history, Boston sports fans just might be able to pull through.
(Sympathy cards from sports fans who live in New York, Detroit, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Toronto, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Phoenix, Buffalo, and St. Louis can send them over to Boston’s City Hall. Some despondent worker will persevere in order to sort them all out and ensure they get delivered.)