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Farewell, Eddie

 

Over the Celtics’ first 23 games of the 2008 NBA playoffs, Eddie House made nine shots. That’s just a bit better than one made field goal every three games. He had played more than 10 minutes in just three of those games—all in blowouts—and got hit with the dreaded DND-CD six times.

In June 2008, Eddie House was as close to being out of the rotation as a fringe player can get without being benched completely. There was no reason to expect him to be a factor at all in the NBA Finals, or for the Celtics to re-sign House after their one-year flier on him ran out.

I love Game 4 of a competitive playoff series. Games 5, 6 and 7 are important in more obvious ways, but the importance of Game 4 sort of sneaks up on you. You feel like the series has just started, and yet here comes this game that will decide whether your team is in a 2-2 dogfight or on one end of a 3-1 potential laugher. Game 4, in a lot of ways, determines how a series feels—what the experience of it feels like for a fan.

And Game 4 of the NBA Finals, as you all surely remember, began as terribly as possible for the Celtics—and for Eddie House.

The Lakers were up 58-40 at halftime after Jordan Farmar hit a running three-pointer at the first half buzzer, and I was dreading how nervous I would feel during Game 6 if the C’s went home to Boston down 3-2 with no margin for error. House played 5:33 in the first half and scored two points on 1-of-4 shooting from the floor.

People think the C’s famous comeback in Game 4 started right away in the 3rd quarter, and that perception makes sense, considering it was such a huge comeback it feels like it must have taken the full 24 minutes of the second half to pull off. But the C’s were down 68-48 when Doc Rivers substituted Eddie House for Rajon Rondo with 7:05 left in the 3rd quarter. There were no signs of a brewing rally.

The C’s outscored the Lakers 23-5 to end the 3rd quarter, which means they played outstanding ball on both sides of the floor. The C’s shot 8-of-10 over the last 7:05 of the 3rd, and it helped the cause that three of those eight field goals were three-pointers. Eddie House made both three-pointers he attempted in that quarter; the first cut the deficit to 70-55 after the Lakers had weathered a brief C’s run and extended the lead back to 18 and 20. The second brought the Cs within 73-67 at the 1:23 mark.

I am a pessimist by nature. I expect the worst and hope for the best. I had spent the last hour or so mentally preparing myself for a Game 5 with the series knotted at 2-2. When Eddie hit that three-pointer, it was the first time I allowed myself to think, “Holy crap. The C’s might win this game.”

Before hitting those two three-pointers in the 3rd, Eddie House had shot 9-of-36 in the post-season.

House only made one shot in the 4th quarter, but it is one of the dozen or so non-buzzer beaters I will remember vividly for the rest of my life. I have a habit of watching big games either alone or, if we’re in the same town, with my Dad. I get nervous, I curse and I have very little tolerance for enemy fan taunting during big games, so I tend to avoid bars or parties if I really care about the outcome of a game. It’s antisocial, I know. Whatever.

So I was alone in my apartment, standing about five feet from my television for the entire 4th quarter of that game. And I was getting really, really worried. The Celtics got the ball over and over either down one or with the score tied, and they just could not make a shot. We’ve seen this game a hundred times. A team falls behind big, rallies with an incredible hot streak but can’t edge into the lead. They end up losing despite pouring out a huge, energy-sapping effort.

But this was the Finals, and the Celtics absolutely could not waste this chance to steal a game in Los Angeles. This was the championship right here, in these 12 minutes. That’s what it felt like at the time. And Boston could not get over the hump.

With 4:20 left and the C’s down 83-82, James Posey rebounded a Lamar Odom miss and Paul Pierce pushed the ball up the court. He drove right, drew the defense and kicked to Eddie House on the right wing. Eddie House launching an 18-footer on the move is not really your ideal shot with 4:07 to go in a pivotal Finals game. Not now, Eddie! These were precious possessions, not to be used up by role players with one foot out of the league.

Of course, Eddie shot the ball, because that’s what Eddie does. He has never cared that he isn’t a star player, a tall player, a guy who can create his own shot or the team’s first option. He believes he is the best shooter in the world, and he is going to shoot the ball if he’s in the game.

It went in, and I went freaking crazy. The Celtics were ahead! Actually ahead!

It’s a moment I will never forget. And it’s the kind of moment that made Eddie great. For better or worse—and if we’re being honest, it was “worse” as often as it was “better”—Eddie was never afraid to shoot. But there is value in that lack of fear. Hell, Rajon Rondo is still afraid to shoot in the 4th quarter sometimes. Chris Webber wouldn’t even look at the rim during the 4th quarter of an elimination playoff game. And yet this little journeyman is coming off screens and jacking rainbow 21-footers over the outstretched hand of the 6’5” guy guarding him?

He took some bad shots. Lots of them, and more this year than last year.

But those big games remind you that sometimes it’s nice to have a guy with the guts to say, “Hell, no one can score? Then I will. Or at least I’ll try.”

Eddie was 9-of-30 over the first six games of the Bulls series last season. He was 5-of-5 in Game 7.

That sums up Eddie’s tenure in Boston pretty well. He can only do one thing well, and by the nature of that thing, there will be lots of games when he doesn’t do it “well.” But you tend to forget about those “bad” games the moment he starts doing that thing well again—especially if it happens to be during Game 4 of the Finals or Game 7 of a playoff series.

Eddie House is nothing more than a marginal NBA player. But it’s fun to wonder: Would the C’s have won the 2008 title or the greatest first-round series ever without him?

  • Josh A

    Eddie brought some intensity with Posey in the Ring year that was great. But as everyone’s intensity went down this year, his stilll kept. Thank you Eddie, but Doc and Danny wanted to warn this team they had to start playing. Nate will add energy different from Eddie. EDDIE THX

  • Conall Mac Michael

    Go neirí leat Eddie.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    adios eddy. thanks for the memories.

    and glad to hear i’m not the only antisocial….big games require focus.

  • Jason

    Best of luck Eddie. Thank you for everything.

  • Jay P

    Yes, they would have won anyway. But they may have needed that spark from someone else. Who it could have been were Eddie not there, who knows, maybe Posey steps up bigger, maybe Cassell would have done it. We don’t know and we’re just speculating. But I think the team was talented and driven enough in that year to have gotten it done without Eddie’s spark in some of those games.

    And honestly, the bulls series is a perfect example, regardless of his great performance in Game 7, his shooting murdered us most of the rest of the series. And personally, I’ll take a guy like Robinson who can get to the rim, draw fouls, and create for himself, over a one-dimensional player who can only come around screens and knock down shots.

    Let us not forget what happened when Orlando put Lee on him, and chased him all over the court. They took away his only weapon, and turned him into a waste of minutes on the floor. If a quick, athletic guard is playing him, and he can’t get around screens, he’s useless, he certainly wont be getting into the lane, and he basically causes us to play 4 on 5 on the other end.

    I love Eddie house, as a quick-spark low minute situational player off the bench, and the guy is an all-around professional, stand up guy, great teammate, pleasure to have on a team. Something Robinson certainly can’t say, but the bottom line is, Robinson gives us more options. Whether or not it works, only time will tell, but at least there’s possibilities and potential with Robinson, with Eddie, there’s none.

  • Eric

    Nice tribute. I’m going to miss Eddie, who was my wife’s favorite Celtic.

  • Sam

    You went crazy and so did I. Good times my friend that I’ll always remember. Screaming at the TV. Jumping up and down, cursing, cheering, celebrating. I did all that and more during the game. I wasn’t alone though and being the only true basketball fan in my house I was told to calm down and shut up quite a few times. I didn’t though, how could I? Those we’re good times. I’ll miss Eddie for that and a lot of other reasons. I wish him the best of luck.

    Loved that Bulls game too, then again I loved that whole series.

    That said I’m looking forward to the options Nate can bring us. He’s super competitive so in that way alone I’m hoping he’ll gel well with all of the other competitive people we have on this team. .

  • tm

    It’s too bad NYK wont just release him and we will sign him back. If Cleveland can do it, so should we.

    Also would it have been against the rules if we traded Eddie to NYK and then trade him back for a player that matched his salary? That way we can skip around the BYC rule.

  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    @TM: I believe this is against the rules. (60-day prohibition, I think, but I’d have to check to get the specifics)

  • Josh A

    @Zach, can u look at my email soon

  • DRJ1

    Game 4 still lives on my DVR, and from time to time, I still watch it again, always starting from that point where they were 20 points down in the middle of the 3rd. That single game is still the one greatest sporting event I’ve ever experienced. Unlike you, Zach, I watched with my kid, who’s a Cs fanatic. After almost abandoning all hope… we ended up ROLLING on the floor in sheer amazement/disbelief/wonder/ecstasy. As I said, the greatest sports experience ever.

    Stay well, Eddie. Hope to seeya in green again someday. (Anything’s possible)

  • Scott

    I loved Eddie, and i think he brought a lot to the team. I think the locker room is a little emotional right now because everybody loved him. He’s a great guy, and a class act. He will be missed.

    We couldnt have won the chip without him, and that comeback game was the clincher. Good luck, and hopefully we’ll see you in a boston uniform next season? Just me, hoping for the best.

  • sj

    i think we will see number four in uniform tonight ! i hope so because we don’t have any guards to back up Ray Allen because Tony Allen is injured again ( no shock )

  • rob

    @zach

    i totally know what you mean about watching big games alone. When i watch the celtics i have to do it alone, theres just something that makes me so short tempered while watching them. I don’t care if its at 9 o clock on a friday or saturday when i could be with friends. the game just means something to me

  • fillabuster

    Eddie was great for two years, but let’s be serious this was a good trade.

    Eddi was a one-dimensional 31-year-old shooting guard who could never get the ball over the court cleanly. He couldn’t penetrate, played awful defense (except for in spurts) and despite some heroic performances was pretty average. I’m not saying I didn’t like him, sometimes I loved him, especially in the Finals.

    But, we’re getting a 25-year-old kid who will play at break neck speed and has the ability to be instant offense. For a team that goes on eight minute offensive droughts, that’s very much a good thing.

  • Still enjoying #17

    Thanks for the memories, Eddie. Although you were one dimensional, you were definitely one of a kind. Class act. Fearless shooter. Even Phil jackson said he was always worried about having to guard against Eddie House. He can definitely put the dagger in opponents.
    I’m gonna miss yelling” EDDIE’S IN DA HOUSE!!!” against all the haters I have to watch the game with (Faker fans) when you drain a 3. You provided alot of good times for me. I wish you well and hope to see you back in Green in the near future.

    Note to Ainge: Resign Powe and House….I don’t know how, but make it happen.

  • I love Green

    That game 4 was definitley the best comeback i’ve ever seen. Oh wait, I forgot about game 3 of the ECF in 2002. Down 21 entering the 4th and came back to win. Thats probably the craziest i’ve ever gone watching the Celts, with game 4 coming in a close second.

    Eddie you will be missed and i’ll never forget that image of you being fouled, and running that the court with the ball celebrating. I don’t think i slept that night.

  • Lon

    I agree with you 100%. Eddie’s presence in game 4 of the Finals will not be forgotten by loyal Celtics fans. He was huge in that game. He played a role similar to Scott Wedman and, unbelievably, Greg Kite in past finals…but the C’s lost in those battles.

  • mugi

    best of luck eddie.

  • Jim Weeks

    I agree with pretty much everything that’s been written already, including House’s limitations. But there were three other things I really enjoyed about the House experience:

    1. The scouting report the Lakers had about him in Jack McCallum’s book on the Suns: Won’t shoot if he doesn’t have the ball.

    2. The fact that he carries around a DVD of his highest scoring game from college.

    3. Last year’s stretch in the regular season where he got outrageously hot from deep. I couldn’t find the exact stats but I remember it included a game in Miami and at least one corny “House on fire” reference from Gorman.

  • chris s

    thnx eddie! my memory of ’08 playoffs is eddie going horizontal vs. cleve in gm. 7 – my (fuzzy) impression/recollection is that his spark defensively turned that game around – thnx zach for all your work on celtshub…really enjoy reading here!

  • http://Angryirish.com Chris O

    I feel like I have to leave a tribute to Eddie as well. He was just such a GREAT Celtic and meant so much more than what he did stats wise. The sum of the parts was greater than the whole as they say. I feel like Eddie hit 10 3′s in that Game 4 of the Finals. It just seemed every big shot and every big shot he took went in and sparked the comeback. That and the 2002 ECF Game (as I Love Green stated) were the two best C’s comebacks I have ever seen. They were one in the same moment to me.

  • http://www.daltoncra.org Ryan M

    Eddie House will forever be a celtic. Whenever the celtics needed someone to hit a big shot he did. God bless u Eddie.

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