The Celtics…In Overtime

25 Jul

“Red [Auerbach] wasn’t going to let that go in, you know that.  Not in Boston Garden.”

    – Doc Rivers on Dwyane Wade’s potential game winning shot in OT in Game 4 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals


I can’t really blame Doc for thinking it was Red Auerbach, the late legendary coach of the Celtics during their glory days in the 1950s and 60s, who caused Wade’s three point attempt for the win to rattle out as time expired in overtime of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals on June 3rd.  After all, Doc had never met Jeff and was not aware of what had transpired that afternoon.  He, therefore, could not have known that it was Jeff’s influence, not Red’s, that protected the Celtics’ overtime win that night.

I wish I understood Jeff’s communication patterns better, because I had gotten very anxious about the fact that, other than a brief appearance in one of my dreams in September of last year, where he gave me the erroneous prediction that the Yankees would win it all, I had not received any direct contact from him for nine months.  Until Sunday June 3rd.

At 2:48 that afternoon, my friend and colleague Betsy Rath (who Jeff had interviewed with in 2007) sent me the email below asking me who I thought would win that night’s Celtics-Heat playoff game.  Betsy’s husband works for the Celtics.

I intentionally didn’t respond to her question immediately, since it seemed like a golden opportunity to reach out to Jeff and try to connect again.  Ever since he left, Jeff has chosen important sports moments as the catalysts that prompted him to make a connection with me.  And so I asked him out loud how he thought I should answer Betsy’s email. Then I waited.  And waited.

To my astonishment, at exactly 4:30pm, still hours before that night’s 8:30pm game, Jeff responded.  I was stunned to hear his voice in my ears again: “Tell her the Celtics will win in overtime.”  I was so taken aback that I immediately replied right back to him as if he was standing next to me: “Can’t I just tell her the Celtics will win?  Does it have to be that specific?”

Jeff shot back immediately, and this time he sounded annoyed.  “Tell her it will be in overtime,” he said.  “Ok, relax. I will,” I said.  That was all I needed to hear.  And so at 4:33pm, I emailed Betsy with the following message:


And then, I went about the rest of my day, certain that there was basically zero chance of the Celtics winning this game in overtime.  It was bold enough to think that this aging group could win another game against Lebron and Co. in any fashion.  I let Drew, Brett and Carey know what had happened.

As Drew and I later watched the Celtics completely pummel the Heat in the first half that night, stretching their lead to 18 points with three minutes left in the half, I laughed to myself over Jeff’s misguided prediction.  I said to Drew, “Man, Jeff had the right team, but what was that overtime thing all about?  He was so insistent about that.”  Drew shrugged.  I went upstairs at halftime to brief Carey on the blowout. 

But then in the third quarter, the Celtics went stone cold, Lebron started to take charge, and by the end of that period, the Celtics lead had shrunk to five.  At that moment, right before the start of the fourth quarter, it all became clear to me. “Tell her it will be in overtime,” he had insisted.  This was no fantasy.  I had heard his voice just as clearly as I had on August 13th, 2011 when he told me before it happened that Eric Chavez would walk, and Jorge Posada would follow with a grand slam homerun.  That’s exactly what happened then, and now, nearly 10 months later, this game was undoubtedly going to go into overtime.

I watched the fourth quarter in what I’d describe as an otherworldly state.  I was fully aware that the Heat comeback was continuing, but my mind was elsewhere, desperately trying to process the deeper meaning of all this.  When the final buzzer sounded with the game tied at 89, all I could think to do is run to Drew and embrace him, but he was already on his way toward me.  We hugged.  I looked at my phone, and it was 11:24pm.  At that split second, my blackberry buzzed.  It was Betsy, and her email was priceless:

Oh my, indeed.

Of course, the Celtics still needed to win in order for Jeff’s prediction to have been correct, but that was just a formality.  We knew the Heat had no chance. The exclamation mark on that point came when Lebron James remarkably fouled out for the first time since April of 2008, with 1:51 remaining in overtime.  That is something Jeff, when he was alive, would have contended David Stern would never let happen in the playoffs.  But now it did.  And with seconds remaining and the Heat down by two, Wade’s three point attempt did not go down, and the result was sealed:

The Celtics…In Overtime.

So many people I know who have lost loved ones have told me about their having had varying forms of communication with them after their physical deaths.  For those people and perhaps even others, this blog post will resonate and have real meaning.  For some, it might not.  Either way, I am simply reporting the facts about what happened on June 3rd to the loyal readers of this blog, and each individual can internalize those facts in his or her own way.  For me, the meaning is clear and profound, and it is exactly the same as what I expressed in my August 17th, 2011 post about the Chavez/Posada incident (  And so I will share that meaning by closing with the exact words that I closed with then.

The kid is all right.

My precious son is ok.


-Rich Klein


One Response to “The Celtics…In Overtime”

  1. Nicole Sloane July 28, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

    Thank you for sharing that wonderful information.

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