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Irish Coffee: What exactly is ‘championship DNA’?

05.11.11 at 12:48 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Probably as a Pavlovian response forced upon them by coach Erik Spoelstra, the Heat keep saying the Celtics have some mythical championship DNA lingering from their 2008 title that will make them seemingly impossible to oust from the NBA playoffs in Game 5.

  • Dwyane Wade: “That’€™s a championship team, and they play with the championship DNA that they have.”
  • Mario Chalmers: “We know they’€™ve won a championship before, and they have a championship DNA. We’€™re just trying to get there, and we want to beat them.”
  • Udonis Haslem: “We have the opportunity to close it out. It’s not going to be easy. I understand that they’ve got the championship DNA, and they’re not going to just give it to us. It’s going to be a hard-fought game.”

What, exactly, is “championship DNA”? Did the two-time defending champion Lakers have it when they were swept out of this season’s Western Conference semifinals by the title-starved Mavericks? Did the four-time champ Spurs have it this year when they lost in the first round to an eighth-seeded Grizzlies team that had never won a playoff game before?

Only five players remain from the Celtics team that won a title three years ago — albeit their best five for much of the season, until Glen Davis went missing. Like people, NBA teams get old, and they eventually pass the torch to someone with younger, stronger and/or better DNA. Someone like LeBron James or Dwyane Wade.

The sad part is that you can still extract DNA from somebody after they’re dead. But a heart is different. As long as it’s beating, you’re still alive. And the Celtics, for now, are still alive.

“This is a veteran team with a championship heart,” said the Heat’s Chris Bosh, after he helped push the Celtics to the brink of elimination in Game 4. They’re going to come out swinging in the beginning until the end no matter what the outcome is. We just have to be prepared for that. We have to use the homecourt to our advantage and just play basketball.”

So, the real question before Game 5: Is that championship heart still beating?

“In our minds, there’s a lot of basketball to be played,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “It’s going to be extremely hard, and if we’re not up for that, then we’ll lose. But if we’re up for that, I think we can win three games. We have to play great basketball.”

If they don’t, the mourning of another great Celtics team can begin in Boston. Probably for good.

DANNY AINGE DOESN’T EVEN KNOW CELTICS FUTURE

Rumors — and that’s all they are at this point — of Rivers’ retirement following this season, so the Celtics coach can watch his son Austin Rivers play at Duke, are surfacing left and right. Will he return?

“My guess is that he’ll either coach here next season,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told ESPN.com, “or take some time off.”

If Rivers leaves Boston, Kevin Garnett could retire, too. And then it really is the end of an era for these Celtics. But those dominoes likely won’t fall until there is some clarity about the future of the NBA, and the fact that commissioner David Stern and players association executive director Billy Hunter have been negotiating face-to-face certainly is an encouraging sign in that regard.

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’€™s Irish Coffee or a future mailbag? Send an e-mail to brohrbach@weei.com or a Twitter message to@brohrbach.)

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James
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