To steal an Orwellian phrase, all pro sports franchises are equal.
Just some are more equal than others.
There are the Yankees, of course, and the Montreal Canadiens, teams that specialize in drawing upon their unique and magical histories, sometimes even when it appears those histories have faded away and become irrelevant. These are teams that don't just sell their past, but listen to it.
You'd also have to put the Boston Celtics in that category once more, particularly after their memorable performance in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night in Los Angeles. The Celtics, who have already engineered arguably the greatest single season turnaround in NBA history, spotted the Lakers a 24-point, first-half lead before charging back in the second half to win the game and move to within one victory of securing the team's 17th NBA title and first since 1986.
For most of the past decade, of course, the Celts have seemed as distant from their wonderful history of Russell and Auerbach as the Maple Leafs are from theirs. Remember, last year this Boston club won a pathetic 24 games, finishing 23 games behind the first place Toronto Raptors in the NBA's Atlantic Division.
But then came Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, and then a spectacular 66-win season organized by GM Danny Ainge, the old Blue Jay third baseman, in which Garnett, Allen and Paul Pierce proved three superstars could work together in the modern era of pro sport without egos and contracts getting in the way.
On Thursday, it was as though the spiritual circle was officially closed for the Celtics. They weren't the Celtics of Larry Bird and Robert Parish, but more like those terrific teams of the 1970s.
Garnett was Dave Cowens. Allen was Jo-Jo White. Eddie House came off the bench to evoke for one night the memory of perhaps the greatest sixth man ever, John Havlicek.
Doc Rivers seemed a little like fiery Tommy Heinsohn. James Posey was opportunistic Don Nelson, making things happen while the Lakers were paying attention to the Boston stars, and Leon Powe and Kendrick Perkins combined to produce some Paul Silas moments.
And Pierce? He was a defensive stopper against Kobe Bryant just like long-armed Don Chaney was so often for Heinsohn's clubs, but with much more offensive firepower than Chaney ever had.
The Celtics won Game 4 with guts, defence, strong fundamental basketball and team play, qualities once associated with every Boston team, but ones that had seemed lost for so long.
The Celtics still have work to do, still have one more game to win. But they are indeed the Celtics again, one of those special teams of history and destiny, one of those teams for whom the ghosts of past greatness seem to be real and meaningful, insistently beckoning the modern heroes to return to the basics that produced past glories.