The 2008 Boston Celtics will forever have a special place in the hearts of fans throughout this region, and winning the NBA Finals that season might not have been possible without one key veteran in particular.
James Posey played a pivotal role at both ends of the floor on that championship-winning Celtics team. His perimeter defense ranked among the best in the league. Posey did a tremendous job guarding Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, which was instrumental in the C's winning the 2008 NBA Finals in six games. Bryant was held by Posey and others to 40.6 percent shooting in the series, including a 26.8 percent mark from 3-point range.
It's hard to overstate Posey's value to the 2008 Celtics, and Paul Pierce went as far to say on a recent episode of the The Players’ Tribune’s “Knuckleheads” podcast with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles that Posey was the "biggest unsung hero" of that C's squad.
“That was the year Posey was a beast,” Pierce said. “He was hitting big shots. And he would go and lock up and take pressure off of me. Posey was like one of the big glue guys you want to have. Like, guys like that are guys that help you win championships, for real.”
Posey's best performance of the playoffs came in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. The Celtics overcame a 24-point deficit to beat the Lakers at Staples Center and take a 3-1 series lead. Posey, in addition to his excellent defense, scored 18 points on 4-for-8 shooting from 3-point range. A couple of those shots came in the second half, including a clutch 3-pointer that gave the C's a 92-87 lead with 1:13 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Posey didn't stick around in Boston for long. He earned a well-deserved contract with the New Orleans Pelicans the following summer as a free agent, and there's no doubt the C's missed Posey's presence in the 2010 NBA Finals rematch with the Lakers.
The 2008 Celtics will go down as one of the best in franchise history, and while Posey wasn't one of the team's "Big 3", his definitely ranks among that squad's most valuable players.
Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Jazz, which begins Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 10:30 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.