NEWTON, Mass. (AP) — Even though the odds are against them, former Red Sox slugger and Hall of Famer David Ortiz isn't giving up on the Boston Celtics.
"Big Papi" knows no NBA team has recovered from an 0-3 deficit like the Celtics face in the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat. It's happened 149 times in league history and the team in front has won the series.
Ortiz and the Red Sox faced seemingly insurmountable odds in 2004 when they trailed the rival New York Yankees 0-3 in the American League championship series. Not only did they come back, Boston won the World Series. It is the only team to do it in MLB history.
Why not the Celtics?
"Yeah, and there'd be no better time than this one for that happen," Ortiz said in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday morning at his charity golf tournament. "If you do it in basketball, it's got to be the same city. You know what I'm saying."
The 47-year-old Ortiz, who was enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame last summer, knows how the Celtics must look at it.
"Being 3-0, you've got two choices: You either quit or you go back out, and in professional sports, once you get to that point, there's no way to quit," said Ortiz, the 2004 ALCS MVP. "Once you get there — even if you're 3-0 — you're not thinking about quitting, you're thinking about ‘OK, I hit bottom. I've got to go step-by-step now. I cannot try to win three games at once.'"
Like the 2004 Red Sox, who were blown out 19-8 in Game 3, the Celtics are coming off a blowout loss in Miami on Sunday night.
Ortiz recalled what the clubhouse was like after that game.
"Pretty quiet," he said in the interview, sitting at an outside table near the course. "We pretty much were just thinking about: ‘Man, they scored a lot of runs the third game. We had played those guys more than 20 times and we know what to do to beat them.' We just weren't doing it. Jump back on the wagon.''
Ortiz's former '04 teammate Tim Wakefield, also at the tournament, feels like the Celtics need someone to lighten the mood.
"They've got to have somebody like we had with Kevin Millar, to step up and say: ‘Don't let us win tonight,''' he said. "That actually changed our whole demeanor. When we walked into the clubhouse for Game 4, we thought we were done."
Ortiz said belief is vital.
"I think that there's no room for negativity once you get there," he said. "Every single thought has to be in a positive way, every single one, so you can bounce out of it.
"So, we go from the never to never and get to it," he said, breaking into a laugh.
Ortiz's tournament — called the Boston Heart Classic — raises money for children in need of life-saving medical treatment in both his native country, the Dominican Republic, and in New England.