Paul Pierce had not slept in 36 hours but the Boston Celtics captain was more than ready to greet the tens of thousands of fans who turned out today for the rolling rally celebrating the team's first NBA championship in 22 years.
"We're tired of watching these parades on TV. Now we get to enjoy our own," said Pierce, wearing a championship cap and holding the MVP trophy. "I haven't had any sleep yet, so now I'm still enjoying it."
Pierce led the Celtics to the team's 17th championship, culminating in Boston's victory Tuesday night over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6.
A sea of fans in green lined the streets of the city today, from the TD Banknorth Garden to Copley Plaza to pay tribute to the team as they rolled through town on 16 World War II-era amphibious vehicles.
Michael Shaughnessy took off work to bring his 4-year-old grandson Gavin Carter to the parade. He said he was proud of how the Celtics played in their championship run -- not just that they won.
"They're unselfish and willing to sacrifice and as a result, they won," Shaughnessy said. "This is a special team. It's a special group. They came together."
Gavin said he was most excited to see Kevin Garnett, his favorite player.
"I like that he gets all the shots and he dunks," Gavin said, tugging at his own miniature No. 5 jersey.
Garnett was having just as much fun as his little fan.
"I'm having a great time, as you can see," Garnett said, stopping to point to his broad, toothy grin.
The rally was similar to five others staged since 2002 -- two Boston Red Sox World Series victories and three Super Bowl championships for the New England Patriots.
But today, it was all green. All along the route, fans held signs declaring "Sweet 17" and "Have a Cigar," a reference to the late patriarch Red Auerbach, who had a hand in the franchise's first 16 titles.
The crowd was about 10 people deep along both sides of Tremont Street along Boston Common. Fans chanted "Let's Go Celtics" and "Beat L.A." as they waited for the team to pass.
Nick D'Ambrosia, a pennant vendor from Hamden, Conn., said when the team won Game 3 in Los Angeles, he bought a championship batch of $7 pennants to hopefully sell at a Boston victory parade.
"It's better when they haven't won in a long time. Everyone loves a new winner," D'Ambrosia said.
President Bush called team owners Wyc and Irv Grousbeck to offer congratulations. Wyc Grousbeck said Bush told him he really enjoyed the game and that the Celtics made Boston proud.
Before the parade, the Grousbecks showed off a 2008 championship banner in the hallway at the Garden similar to the 16 others already hanging from the rafters. Coach Doc Rivers commissioned the new banners for the owners and players.
Irv Grousbeck said it is "the first of several, we hope."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times