Boston salutes Celtics’ record 18th NBA championship with parade

BOSTON — The Boston Celtics entered this season vowing to turn recent playoff misery into joy.

Eight months later, they celebrated the franchise’s 18th championship in what has become Boston’s signature celebration, with huge crowds attending the Duck Boat Parade on Friday marking the 13th championship won this century by the city’s franchise in one of the four biggest American sports leagues.

The Celtics, Patriots, Red Sox and Bruins have all commemorated championships by riding on duck boats — these are amphibious vehicles typically ridden by tourists.

In Boston, slow-rolling boats through city streets has become synonymous with the spirit of sports supremacy. Friday’s parade was the latest part of a salute to the Celtics after they defeated the Dallas Mavericks in five games in the NBA Finals on Monday night.

Beginning at TD Garden, the procession lasted approximately 90 minutes, first turning onto Causeway Street in front of the arena, past City Hall, through the Boston Common, along Boylston Street, and ending at the Hynes Convention Center.

Meanwhile, there were many opportunities for the city to salute a franchise that is tied with the rival Los Angeles Lakers for the most titles in league history. Fans celebrated the moment by hanging on light posts, displaying homemade signs or standing at subway entrances.

“It’s unbelievable. It still doesn’t feel real. But I’m just trying to stay in the moment,” All-Star Jayson Tatum said during a pre-parade rally at the Garden.

Celtics owner Vic Grousbeck gave fans a gift about 90 minutes before the trade began.

He was accompanied by his wife, Emilia Fazzalari, and daughter as they attempted to take the field with the Larry O’Brien Trophy and the newly minted 2024 championship banner.

They were unable to proceed further because of traffic and barricades, so they walked a half-mile along Causeway Street and passed through a crowd of fans carrying the trophy and banner.

The rally inside the Garden included players and their family members, members of the Celtics organization, arena staff, season ticket holders and guests including Massachusetts Governor Maura Haley and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu.

After celebrating in the locker room Monday night by spraying champagne and posing for pictures with the trophy, the team headed to Miami for a private party.

When the Celtics returned to action Wednesday, coach Joe Mazzulla brought the party back to the masses, giving fans a chance to see the trophy up close — and in some cases, even touch it — as they carried it through Boston’s famous North End.

“I drove all the way from Ohio (on Wednesday) because we were coming for the parade,” Celtics fan Jason Hawkins told WCVB-TV, Boston’s ABC affiliate. “I touched the trophy, man. I made a video of it.”

The gold basketball was on display for all to see Friday as the players, along with fellow Celtics players and their family members, waved and interacted with fans.

The Celtics broke every barrier this season by saying, “Together.”

Jaylen Brown said Friday that the theme of this year’s team is unity.

“I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win,” Brown said.

The day was a day to celebrate the team-first mantra that Mazzulla has espoused this season, as well as the culmination of a mission that Brown and Tatum began after finishing third — Brown in 2016 and Tatum a year later.

The two made it to four conference finals and one NBA Finals — losing to the Golden State Warriors in 2022 — before they finally reached the pinnacle of the league. Brown earned Finals MVP honors, which he said also belonged to his “partner in crime.”

While the city had to wait nearly two decades for this celebration, the Celtics are in a solid position to try to become the NBA’s first back-to-back champions since the Warriors in 2018.

All five starters — Tatum, Brown, Jrue Holiday, Derrick White and Kristaps Porzingis — are under contract for next season. After securing long-term extensions with Brown, Holiday and Porzingis, the Celtics are expected to do the same with Tatum and White this summer.

Reserve Luke Kornet didn’t let fans forget the Celtics’ title history, and kept fans ahead by counting down from one to 18 at the end of the parade route.

His message to the city is clear: Keep the duck boats fueled.

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