No. 20: Boston Celtics

Ultimate Standings 2012

Updated: September 7, 2012, 11:26 AM ET
By Ross Marrinson | ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 40
Title track: 14
Ownership: 12
Coaching: 3
Players: 10
Fan relations: 16
Affordability: 63
Stadium experience: 44
Bang for the buck: 38

It was supposed to be over. The Celtics -- with a hobbled Ray Allen and a grumpy Kevin Garnett -- were too old, too tired, too injured and too slow to make any waves in the Eastern Conference. That's what we were told. But after beginning the season 15-15 and hearing the grumbles from fans and the media, the C's ended the regular season winning 24 of their remaining 36 games and taking the Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals. The Celtics improved in every one of our categories, and even though the average ticket is pricey at $68.55 (third-most expensive in the NBA) and parking isn't cheap at $25 (third-most expensive), fans still flock to the Gahden because, simply, the team wins. Five consecutive playoff appearances, two Finals appearances and one championship since 2008 more than make a case for the Celtics' being ranked among NBA teams third in title track, third in ownership, second in coaching, fourth in players and sixth in fan relations. Over? With a new Big Three (Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo) and younger, more versatile reinforcements in Avery Bradley, Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and Jared Sullinger, the Celtics seem to be getting better with age.