by Devon Alexandre

First off, I would like to welcome all of you NBA nuts to my first blog SLAMonline post. The name’s Devon, and I’m stoked for the chance to write for one of the best basketball resources in the world.

For those of you who have been reading my content on MSF, you know what I’m all about — I give it to you raw, with the truth, and nothing but. Sure, I might add a few jokes here and there, and I might let emotion out at times, but what else would you want from a writer? And for those of you who haven’t heard of me, I can’t wait to share my insight on theKevin Garnett & Paul Pierce game, the culture, and everything else basketball.

Age ain’t nothing but a number?

Knee injuries, back spasms, ankle injuries, media attention, fast-paced gameplay, and one of the more emotional fan bases in all of sports.

Does this sound tough to you? Does playing an 82-game season, at the age of 30, going against the world’s greatest athletes sound tough to you? Years of sweat, blood, tears, broken bones, broken spirits and broken dreams have flooded the core of this Celtics team for years. I’m not talking about one, or two years ago. I’m talking way, way back. Back when Kobe was had the fro. Back when KG won MVP for the Twin City. Even as far back as Ray Ray’s days in the rainy city of Seattle.

Sure, the kid Rondo is only beginning his resume for the Hall of Fame, and Glen Davis still has a few years and pounds to go, but you get the picture.

This Celtics team has been through it all. Pain, suffering, loss, victory and everything else the rigors of the NBA season has to offer. Maybe not together as a squad, but individually.

Garnett, Allen, Pierce and Shaq are veterans by definition, and maybe they have lost a step or two or can’t throw it down like they used to, but they’re still a dangerous core.

As other teams are complaining of chemistry problems, injury woes and coaching issues, this Boston Celtics team is having another spectacular season, led by a squad which held it down at the 2004 All-Star game. Is it me, or does it seem like the green and white have become ageless?

Physically, that’s impossible. But if the old tale of the Juan Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth is true, then the Celtics have found it.

Any regular summer would’ve made the Celtics’ acquisition of Shaquille O’Neal big deal. Former Lakers legend, heading to Boston? Sounds like a headline to me, no? Unfortunately for the Celtics, and the rest of the NBA world, a few talents in South Beach stole the show, and with good reason. Anytime the NBA’s best player changes teams, it’s going to beat out everything else.

So, Miami got its trio, Kobe Bryant became agitated with the former 5th seed in the East, and the rest of the League just watched. Kind of bummy summer for everyone else, right?

Wrong.

As all of the media hoopla began circling down south, the Celtics were quietly getting better. The additions of Shaq and Jermaine made one of the League’s best interior defenses even better. Rajon Rondo took the summer to play ball with some of USA’s best, Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins began regaining form, and Doc Rivers was all but leaving. It was safe to say this Celtics squad was coming in with a full head of steam. Boy, did they!

Game 1 of the NBA season was at hand, and it was the Miami “Superheat,” taking on the new-look Celtics. Media was everywhere, the air smelled of Conference Finals, and you had three of the League’s best, in Bosh, Wade and James. What wasn’t to like?

Apparently, the Celtics didn’t like any of it. From the get-go, Boston was bringing out all the stops. Rondo with behind-the-back passes, the crossovers, and court vision. Ray Allen was showing us why he might go down as the League’s best-ever shooter, Pierce was doing a bit of everything, and the whole Celtics team was sticking it to the Heat, with brick wall D. Though the final score was 88-80, Boston, it seemed like the Celtics ran the Heat out of the arena.

So much for the “Miami Thrice’s” big opening night.

But, this wasn’t a coincidence or mishap. The Celtics have been slugging it out, up until this day. Going on win streaks of three, five and seven games, having the League’s second best defensive rating of 99.7, and the ninth-best offensive rating with 109.3, people are being reminded of who is the Beast of the East.

But how is all of this happening?

Since the summer of ’08, the core of Allen, Pierce and Garnett have been together. Three great seasons, which ended in an NBA Championship, an ECF exit and an Eastern Conference Championship.

Not only does this show that hard work pays off, but it proves that no matter how good an individual is, and no matter how flashy the star of the team can be, team basketball will always prevail. This is exactly what the Celtics continue to show us.

Danny Ainge knew that Allen, Pierce and Garnett had their best years behind them. But he pulled a couple of blockbusters because he knew that, together, the three would make a monster. They have, and they continue to be one.

While the “Big Three” were getting it together, Ainge was bringing in pieces like Sam Cassell, Nate Robinson, Marquis Daniels, and a few others. Then, once Rondo got the hang of things, you knew that the Celtics would be in it for a few more good years. As they began molding together, we began to take notice of how good this team was becoming.

The same thing continues to this day.

Now with the newer additions of Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal, the Celtics have the best rotation of big men in the entire A! Perkins, KG, Shaq and Jermaine? I don’t care how old or frail they might be, I’ll take that front court any day of the week.

Then by adding Delonte West, the Celtics upgraded from the loss of Tony Allen, and obtained a guard with a good jumper, and great defensive mindset.

What has that equaled? An Eastern Conference best 16-4 record, a current win streak of seven games, one of the premiere defensive teams in the League, and a great shot at chasing another NBA championship. Sure, you can say they are old, and that they tend to be hit by the injury bug, but there’s one thing you must realize after three years of continued excellence:

Age ain’t nothing but a number!