NBA Eastern Conference Finals: Celtics have 'heart of a champion' says Michael Chiklis

michael-chiklis-red-carpet-nc-325.jpg Michael Chiklis knows it's a good week to be a Bostonian.

Technically, the Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner for "The Shield" hails from Lowell, Mass., and was raised in nearby Andover, but he's taking great pride in how his native region currently is representing on a broader scale.

Returning to series work this fall opposite Dennis Quaid in the CBS drama "Vegas," Chiklis will host the network's telecast of the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular for the second consecutive year Wednesday, July 4 -- and Pops conductor Keith Lockhart just led the orchestra at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee concert in London.

And then, there's a certain basketball team ...

Admitted sports addict Chiklis is as excited as any Boston Celtics fan about the team's current standing in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, in which it has a 3-2 lead over the Miami Heat. Game 6 will be televised Thursday (June 7) by ESPN, and Chiklis tells Zap2it he believes "the momentum has decidedly shifted" in the Celtics' favor.

"There have been a lot of naysayers, because of the age and the injuries and different things. Last night was an amazing example of their character, their poise. They have the heart of a champion, this team. And they really are about being a team, not individual players, and that's a time-honored tradition in Boston. We believe in the notion of winning together, and this team sort of typifies that."

To Chiklis' surprise and pleasure, he's finding devotees of other teams becoming big Celtics supporters now: "I have [Los Angeles] Lakers fans begrudgingly saying, 'I really want to see the Celtics do it.' Did you hear what I just said? Lakers fans! They hate us! But you can't help but like this team. They've been cast in the role of underdog in this situation."

And Chiklis doesn't foresee that ending, even if the Celtics win the series Thursday or -- if Game 7 becomes necessary -- Saturday, "Then," he reasons, "they're going to be up against either the powerhouse of the (San Antonio) Spurs or, as I believe, OKC (the Oklahoma City Thunder). That's a young, phenomenal team firing on all pistons, with a number of guys who have the experience to keep the younger guys settled and in the right head."

When Chiklis gave early interviews about hosting the Boston Pops event last year, the Boston Bruins were on the verge of winning their first Stanley Cup in 39 years ... which they ultimately did. Told he seems to be a good-luck charm for whatever Boston team is nearing a championship at the time, he laughs long and deep. "I'll take it, I'll take it!," he says. "Print that all you want."
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