BOSTON (AP) -For Brian Shaw, these were the true sights and sounds of Boston.
Celtics flags everywhere. Fans shouting at the Lakers' bus, most of them decked out in green. Even the driver taking the team to the arena was wearing a Celtics hat.
That was missing in recent years, and so were wins on the basketball court. But with the Celtics back in the NBA finals, the city has regained a part of its identity.
Beantown has gone green again.
``I'm sure that everybody feels like the team is back where it belongs and things are the way that they are supposed to be,'' Shaw said.
Shaw began his career with the Celtics, ended it with the Lakers, and is now an assistant on Phil Jackson's staff. Los Angeles was trying to even the series Sunday night in Game 2 before if shifted to the West Coast.
Shaw was drafted in 1988, the year after the Celtics lost to the Lakers in their last finals appearance. He was traded to Miami in 1992, and later realized that some of the fans left town, too.
``I know that there were games we played here in recent years that wasn't sold out, which was different,'' Shaw said. ``The years that I was here it was always sold out.
``I know a couple of years ago the fans here were chanting 'MVP!' when Kobe put on a show here, that would have never ever happened before. So I think that the culture kind of changed. I'm sure that it's coming back now to the way it was.''
Long before the Red Sox and Patriots became the dominant teams in their sports, it was up to the Celtics to bring titles home to Boston. They often delivered, winning 16 of them, tops in the NBA.
But the last came back in 1986, and in recent years the Celtics were even mocked, when they weren't being ignored. Once the best in the NBA, they had to settle for being third best in their own city.
t pictures of Larry Bird while eating a sandwich named for him.
Bird retired after the 1992 season, and the Celtics didn't win another playoff series until 10 years later. They missed the postseason the last two years and became a laughingstock last season, when they won 24 games and sometimes seemed more interested in losing for a better shot at landing the No. 1 pick in the draft.
``I guess the low point was a year ago when they lost 18 straight or something like that,'' Celtics Hall of Famer John Havlicek said. ``But you know there are cyclical things in sports and they reached rock bottom. Now they're riding the wave of that championship feeling. So I think you have to go through the good and the bad, and fortunately right now they're fighting for a championship.''
That hardly seemed possible last spring, when the Celtics celebrated the 50th anniversary of their first championship. Things were so bad that Boston's first attempt to trade for Kevin Garnett collapsed because the All-Star didn't think he had a chance to win there.
Garnett changed his mind after the Celtics acquired Ray Allen, and decided to come to Boston. The fans followed, as every home game was sold out after the team averaged 16,900 fans at its 18,624-seat arena last season.
``It's such a different atmosphere now over the last two, three years as opposed to this year,'' said Dana Barros, a former Celtics player who now works for the organization. ``I think in any situation when you're losing, even free agents don't want to come. And once we turned everything around, you got everyone in the world calling trying to move here as well as coaches and everything else.''
Colton said he's seen some of the hardcore fans from the 1980s come back around - perhaps some of the same ones Shaw noticed had been missing.
``I think the true Celtic fans kind of went away and hid the last few years when the team was down,'' Shaw said. ``But I'm sure everybody is back out now and they pulled out their Celtics flags and caps and T-shirts and is wearing them around town proudly now.''

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