Boston Paul Pierce had not slept in 36 hours, but the Boston Celtics captain was more than ready to greet the tens of thousands of fans who turned out Thursday for the rolling rally celebrating the team's first NBA championship in 22 years.
"We're tired of watching these parades on TV. Now we get to enjoy our own," said Pierce, wearing a championship cap and holding the MVP trophy. "I haven't had any sleep yet, so now I'm still enjoying it."
Pierce led the Celtics to the team's 17th championship, culminating in Boston's victory Tuesday night over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6.
A sea of fans in green lined the streets of the city Thursday, from the TD Banknorth Garden to Copley Plaza to pay tribute to the team as they rolled through town on 16 World War II-era amphibious vehicles.
"I'm having a great time, as you can see," Kevin Garnett said, stopping to point to his broad, toothy grin.
The rally was similar to five others staged since 2002 - two Boston Red Sox World Series victories and three Super Bowl championships for the New England Patriots.
But Thursday, it was all green. All along the route, fans held signs declaring "Sweet 17" and "Have a Cigar," a reference to the late patriarch Red Auerbach, who had a hand in the franchise's first 16 titles.
The crowd was about 10 people deep along both sides of Tremont Street along Boston Common. Fans chanted "Let's Go Celtics" and "Beat L.A." as they waited for the team to pass.
Nick D'Ambrosia, a pennant vendor from Hamden, Conn., said when the team won Game 3 in Los Angeles, he bought a championship batch of $7 pennants to hopefully sell at a Boston victory parade.
"It's better when they haven't won in a long time. Everyone loves a new winner," D'Ambrosia said.
President Bush called team owners Wyc and Irv Grousbeck to offer congratulations. Wyc Grousbeck said Bush told him he really enjoyed the game and that the Celtics made Boston proud.
Before the parade, the Grousbecks showed off a 2008 championship banner in the hallway at the Garden similar to the 16 others already hanging from the rafters. Coach Doc Rivers commissioned the new banners for the owners and players.
Irv Grousbeck said it is "the first of several, we hope."
Finals ratings rise
New York - The NBA finals games were the six highest-rated and most-watched programs so far in June, the first time that has happened in seven years.
Boston's victory over the Los Angeles Lakers averaged a 9.3 rating for the series, up 50 percent over the 6.2 for San Antonio's sweep of Cleveland last year. The Celtics' Game 6 clincher on Tuesday earned a 10.7 rating on ABC.