Celtics voice Sean Grande staying in the moment as Boston attempts to add to its considerable history

Before you ask him, Sean Grande doesn’t know what he’s going to say if the Celtics win the 2022 NBA Championship.

The Celtics’ radio voice doesn’t want to know. If it happens – which of course is very doubtful given that the NBA Finals is a tie for the Celtics and the Golden State Warriors in a game – he wants it to be natural.

Grande relies on both his ability to call the action in front of him and his perspective on how it fits this season, as well as Celtics history to say the right thing organically. He has been the voice of Boston’s iconic franchise for 21 seasons, including the last eight on the Sports Hub. The last game could be like the Eastern Conference Finals, when victory or loss depends on a last-second shot, or it could be like 2008, when the Celtics blew the Lakers out 131-92 to take the Den in Game 6 to gain victory.

“Pre-rehearsed stuff is a bad idea anyway,” said Grande, who has been the voice of the Celtics since 2001. “Of course you are aware of that. You need to be aware of the big picture and the season’s plot, but don’t get carried away by the Al Michaels moment. You need to understand how it plays into the story, but nothing will matter more than the game you call out in front of you.”

Even in 2008, when he had the opportunity to write his version of Do You Believe in Miracles, his longtime partner Cedric Maxwell ran him over when the cue ball hit the broadcast table and Maxwell yelled, “I’ve got the ball.”

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What Grande is thinking about, which he often thinks about, is to make sure the show feeds both longtime diehards who remember Bill Russell, John Havlicek, and Dave Cowens, as well as those who are on the teams of Larry Bird or Paul Pierce are growing up, makes a connection.

It’s been 14 seasons since the Celtics last hung a banner, a long time for both the franchise and the city. The Bruins won a Stanley Cup, and the Patriots and Red Sox have since added multiple titles to their collections.

“If you think about 2008 when the Celtics won the championship, it was 22 years. Fourteen isn’t 22, but it’s not three either. Fourteen years is a long time and it’s gotten to a point where Boston fans are incredibly spoiled,” Grande said. “We all have our own perspective and our own point of entry. If you’re in your 20s, you’ll remember some of (2008), but it’s not very specific.

“Part of my job is documenting history, and an understanding of time is important,” Grande added. “Remember how old Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were when the Celtics won the championship. Jayson Tatum is younger than Tom Brady in the Super Bowl against the Rams. It shows how young these guys are.”

Tatum was 10 at the time, while Brown was just 11. About the same age as Jack Grande is now. Sean’s 10-year-old son flew to San Francisco to be with his dad while he called Game 2. He’s waited his whole life for a championship.

“The last time the Celtics were in the finals, my son wasn’t born yet. Now he lives and dies with it. It gives you a different perspective,” said Sean Grande. “You have to be careful that it doesn’t trickle in. My son was in Game 5 against Milwaukee. It’s coming off and I know I’m going to have a really miserable 10 year old. They don’t want that bleeding through but then again that’s not the worst thing because he feels what a lot of Celtics fans are. … Seeing it through my son’s eyes helps because it’s a new experience for a lot of people.”

The fact that someone would live and die with this June edition of the Celtics would have seemed crazy at the end of January when the team was 25-25. Grande had a great pitch for one of the biggest seasonal turnarounds in the sport.

“I appreciate what they’ve achieved because I know how well they’ve historically been in the second half of the year. They’ve been playing at championship level for four months now. That shouldn’t be as surprising as it is,” Grande said. “This is one of the best four road seasons in league history. It was a really good road season anyway. It’s ridiculous to continue it into the postseason. A lot makes this team unique. That’s at the top of the list.”

The postseason is also unique in that it feels largely pre-COVID, with packed arena crowds.

“I think the buildings were noisier than before. I think ticket demand is higher than before,” Grande said. “I think a lot of this is post-pandemic. I think that fuels the excitement of people feeling normal and wanting to have those experiences again after they were taken from all of us for two years.”

It’s also more normal for Grande. In the last two years there have been games where he has been on site when Cedric Maxwell was in the studio or when he was playing for Mike Gorman for NBC Sports Boston. Now he and Maxwell are in the arena together, naming another happy chapter in Celtics history. You will react unrehearsed in the moment, which only one thing pre-planned.

“We’re going to make sure Max isn’t anywhere near the ball,” Grande said.

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