And even when the black and memory becomes real life, and the legends stand in front of you in flesh and blood -- despite the passage of time -- you are no less impressed with the men from your memories or their accomplishments.
But for the 1970 Boston Bruins, the anniversary of their Stanley Cup championship was not about a fleeting moment and a young defenseman who leapt into fans hears and changed hockey history. Instead, Thursday's celebration was a reunion that brought back fond memories of friends, fans and an on-ice family whose tenacity and togetherness endures even to this day and sets the standard for all of Boston's professional and collegiate championship teams.
"Getting together, seeing the guys again is really what it’s all about," said Boston Bruins Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Orr to the gathered media in the TD Garden on Thursday afternoon, prior to the Bruins spectacular on-ice celebration that preceded the Boston vs. Pittsburgh hockey game.
"I have to thank the Bruins for doing this," said the perpetually smiling superstar defenseman.
"They’ve really been first class and I certainly appreciate it, and I know all the players appreciate the efforts they’ve made to have everyone come in and take care of us."
The Bruins faithful have always appreciated those Big Bad Bruins and the soft-spoken Orr talked about the Bruins of his era and what made them so special to the fans of New England.
"We had a pretty good hockey team if you look at our line," said Orr, do doubt with a little understatement, of his B's legendary exploits. "We were very close, a very close group.
"I don’t believe we had any ego problems or anything like that."
"We knew it was more fun to win than to lose," he continued with a laugh. "And we won a lot of hockey games.
"We were just a very close group that if a player wasn’t doing his job, it didn’t take the coach or the management to talk to him, the players would talk to him and say, ‘Hey, you got a job to do. Do it.’
"But that’s the way we were. We didn’t need anyone else taking care of our problems, we took care of those problems ourselves. It worked well for us."
It certainly did, as Orr, Johnny Bucyk, Phil Esposito and the rest of that swashbuckling crew earned rings in 1970 and again in 1972. Ever since, Boston's hockey fans have been forever grateful.
"I think our team was a special team," explained Orr. "When you look back, when 20 goals was pretty big, we had nine or ten 20-goal scorers...Maybe we had more. Penalty kill? Are you kidding me? Derek [Sanderson] was one of the best penalty killers I’ve ever seen.
"However you wanted to play, physical, skills, our team could put two power plays out there that I think would do pretty well today also," said #4.
Orr, now a silver haired grandfather, said the game has changed.
"I mean, the media coverage -- back then we had the press, it was the local newspaper guys traveling with us, and then [Channel] 38 came on," he said. "That’s the biggest thing today, the coverage.
"I work in he industry a bit in the agent’s business and we try to explain to our kids, you know, you can’t hide! You can’t hide today. So behave yourself and do the right thing."
Nobody had to tell Orr to "do the right thing" and the work, on and off the ice of that era's Bruins has set an almost unreachable precedent. But like his fans and all of New England's hockey loving public, Orr looks forward to a day when the B's can celebrate another hockey championship and the B's add another banner to the rafters.
"It would be just as exciting and just as much fun," said Orr. "We like winning.
"Boston’s no different than any other city. I mean, my God, what a city. For the Bruins to win the Stanley Cup, it would be unbelievable. It really would be.
"There are a lot of hockey fans in New England, and I think they’d be pretty excited."