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“Anything is Possible.” The three words uttered/screamed by Kevin Garnett as he stood at center court after the Celtics won their 17th NBA title. Boston Celtics fans had been waiting 22 years for another Larry O’Brien trophy to make it’s way to Causeway Street and finally the new “big 3” made it happen. We all know how it went down: the trade for Ray Allen, the trade for Garnett, a 29-3 start and a six-game NBA Finals win over the Lakers. But, the story doesn’t end there.
To learn the full slate of events which took the Celtics from the draft lottery to NBA Champions, one has to read Peter May’s “Top of the World.” The book starts the reader off in Secaucus, New Jersey and the night of the 2007 draft lottery and doesn’t stop until this year’s training camp, with side trips everywhere in between. Mixed among the transactions and wins we know about are the stories and profiles that we don’t know about. From principle owner’s Wyc Grousbeck lucky suit to the alarming closeness of a Hall of Famer joining as an assistant coach to Paul Pierce’s traumatic night the Celtics won the title, May offers anecdotes which give the reader a whole new perspective on the 2007-08 Celtics.
May begins the book from where it all began on May 22, 2007, the night of the infamous draft lottery which set in motion the run to the championship. With first hand accounts of personal stories including Grousbeck, head coach Doc Rivers and nearly every player on the squad, May is able to go behind the scenes in a profession which is becoming more and more secret. Each significant event in the ’07-’08 season contains a in-depth analysis of the move itself and the repercussions. Following the acquisition of each important piece of the puzzle, May delves into the back story of each coach/player and explains their past and how it directly affected their joining the team.
First hand interviews are the key component in “Top of the World.” The reader can tell that May asked the questions reporters are not able to ask and it reveals different sides to the players we think we know. There are extensive background profiles on the Big 3 and Doc Rivers but what’s more fascinating are the shorter yet still important tales, such as how close Reggie Miller came to signing and how close James Posey was to becoming a New Jersey Net. The book allows the reader to see the thinking behind each movement from management – with quotes from Rivers and Danny Ainge – and the subsequent effect it had on the team.
“Top of the World” is a very quick read (at only 235 pages it can’t scare away even the laziest reader) because it’s based on actual events and the reader has an awareness of the big facts of the story. The first half to two-thirds of the book is fascinating and insightful while the last quarter or so is more nuts and bolts about the playoff run and doesn’t include any Earth shattering facts from behind the scenes, though the chapter about the NBA Finals/celebration is probably the best of the book.
Top of the World is a must-read for any Celtics fan (or NBA fan) to fully grasp the incredible 12 months in 2007 and 2008 which took a struggling franchise back to the summit of the basketball world. A perfect Christmas gift.