Opinion: Spiritual Celtics

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum kisses the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy after Game 5 of the NBA Finals basketball series against the Dallas Mavericks in Boston. At right is Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca.

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum kisses the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy after Game 5 of the NBA Finals basketball series against the Dallas Mavericks in Boston. At right is Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca. Charles Krupa / AP

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum celebrates after Game 5 of the NBA Finals on June 17.

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum celebrates after Game 5 of the NBA Finals on June 17. Charles Krupa / AP

By MIKE MOFFETT

Published: 06-22-2024 7:30 AM

State Representative Mike Moffett (R-Loudon) chairs the House Committee on State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs. He has been a Celtic fan since 1968.

A favorite travel terminal is at Boston’s Logan Airport which features numerous championship banners honoring Boston’s pro teams: Bruins, Celtics, Patriots and Red Sox. Will a ceremony occur there when the Celtics’ 18th banner joins all the rest?

The afterglow from the Celtics’ recent NBA title triumph still lights our sports world. And it will for a while. One loves how a title team unites a community — regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or political persuasion.

So, what can one add to all that’s been written about June 17’s record 18th Celtic championship?

How about a sport thought about the extraordinary spiritual/religious reflections expressed by so many of the C’s following their wonderful win?

Boston head coach Joe Mazzulla shared that his family’s post-championship travels will take them to the Holy Land, as opposed to Disney World. Mazzulla is a devout Catholic who claims his identity flows from his “purpose” and “faith.” He has a green and gold wooden rosary made from the Boston Garden’s original parquet floor.

Other Celtics like Jayson Tatum were prayerful following the victory. “First of all, God is the greatest,” said Tatum, according to NBC Sports. “Not because we won, but to put me into a position to maximize my God-given ability to surround me with these guys, my family. It’s an incredible feeling.”

Thirty-eight-year-old C’s forward Al Horford is a devout member of the Church of God Ministry of Jesus Christ International. He wasn’t shy about showing his grateful side on national television minutes after the Celtics’ penultimate 106-88 win over the Mavericks, proclaiming “La Gloria a Dios” (The Glory of God) to countless millions. Faith and perseverance eventually rewarded the Dominican star with a title, ending the league’s longest active streak of career playoff games without a championship (186). Horford had certainly been otherwise blessed in many ways. (His wife, Amelia Vega, was Miss Universe 2003.)

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Celtic star Jrue Holiday has a Bible passage tattooed on his left forearm from Philippians 4:6-7 about finding peace through faith in God.

Other Celtics like backup center Luke Kornet also draw strength, hope and inspiration from their beliefs. A devout Catholic, Kornet is a “Knight of Columbus” who attends Mass whenever he can. He’s proud of the perspective and balance his faith has provided him during his life journey.

And so it goes with all of the above as well as with playoff MVP Jaylen Brown and other Celtics, and many of their fans.

There’s no shortage of unhappy folks who denounce and demean people of faith. Our world has changed into a coarser place since I was a youngster when most folks went to church, and we actually prayed in public schools. And to be sure, religious communities have their share of hypocrites and charlatans, which angry progressives love to point out. And Celtic spiritual energy didn’t keep them from losing a Game 7 at home to Miami last year.

Still, the Celtic post-game religious “afterglow” was compelling and inspiring, at least to those willing to enjoy, if not embrace, it all. Will this new “Celtic Way” influence others positively in the future?

One suggested that the Detroit Pistons, who just finished 50 games behind the Celtics, hire a chaplain as an assistant coach.

Maybe Al Horford?

“La Gloria a Dios.”