WHAT IT FEELS LIKE...

To return to the NBA Finals after 13 years

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Monday, June 9, 2008

Boston Celtics reserve point guard Sam Cassell scored eight points in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, his first Finals game in 13 years. Cassell, a former standout at Dunbar High in Baltimore, won back-to-back championships in his first two seasons in 1994 and 1995 with Houston, but didn't return in stops with six other teams. So, after Cassell forced a buyout of his Clippers contract in February, he joined the Celtics for a chance to win another ring.

It's amazing. I started the season with the Clippers, and I knew we weren't going to the Finals. Elton Brand went down. Chris Kaman went down. . . . In the Western Conference, when your two horses go down, you are done.

When I left L.A., this was the main reason for me to come here, to try to compete for a championship. It's definitely special to me to compete on this level. I came into this league competing on this level. And it would be nice to go out of this league competing on this level. When I came out of college and won the first championship, it was cool. I celebrated, but I didn't celebrate it like some of the veteran guys. They were delighted. I was happy. There's a major difference in being happy and being delighted. My second year, we won another one, and I was a little happier. But 13 years later, and finally reaching this again. I remember seeing Shaq cry after his first championship. And I said, 'Why is he crying?' Then I realized why. The hard effort, the emotion that goes in to winning the championship. I don't think that I'll cry, but I'll definitely be . . . delighted.

Personally, I beat the odds. You look back 15 years, you wouldn't think that I'd be playing this long, as long as I've been playing. I don't know how many points my career average is, but I think I've done pretty good. One more year and I'm done. Then I can start my new career: coaching.

-- Interview by Michael Lee


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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