By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

A great run by a great team

Congratulations to the 2009-’10 Boston Celtics, who came out of nowhere once the playoffs started and nearly made it to their 18th NBA championship. It looked to me that age simply caught up with them last night. I’m hardly the first to notice that Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and even Paul Pierce are not the players they were in 2008.

And yes, the Lakers played a great game.

For those of us who grew up with Dave Cowens, John Havlicek and JoJo White (no, I’m not quite old enough to have seen Bill Russell play), and who later had the privilege of watching the original Big Three of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, the past three years have been a nice reminder of how things used to be.

My favorite Celtic is Doc Rivers. I hope he stays.

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  1. I certainly had days, before Garnett and Allen, when I wanted to see Doc gone, but today certainly isn’t one of those days. I think he did a marvelous job this year, and I hope he comes back for another run. He’s a fun interview, as well as a good coach.

  2. Michael Corcoran

    Doc Rivers was tremendous. If the C’s won, I would have suggested the NBA change the rules and allow a coach to win MVP.

    His coaching in game 4, when he ran with the bench to victory was bold and exhilarating. Think of the cast: Big Baby Davis, an undersized, overweight PF with as much heart as any player in the league; a tiny, overexcited point guard who was the 11th man in the rotation until late in the Orlando series; Rasheed Wallace, written off (with good reason) as a disinterested has-been for most of the season; and Tony Allen, a perpetually and maddeningly inconsistent backup who played lights-out defense on the most frightening offensive talents in the league against Miami, Cleveland and LA.

    I doubt I am alone in having yelled at the TV at least twice during the 4th quarter for Doc to bring in KG, Pierce and Rondo, but Doc understood that this squad would will he C’s to victory and keep the Celtics title hopes alive.

    If this is the end of the window for the Big Three era Celtics, I will look back at it with great fondness, even though I know, that had a few things been different (a healthy KG in 09, a healthy perk in game 7 in the 2010 finals), they may have been a dynasty. This 2010 team turned us all into believers again, and showed the remarkable will of three hall of fame greats exiting their primes, as they reached back and made this a wonderful playoff run.

    Technically speaking, I would not be surprised if the Big Three return. One, the cap structure of the league means that the C’s have few option in the free agent market, besides the mid-level exception (which tends to be around $6 million or so, though I do not know the exact number). Secondly, thanks to Bird Rights, the Celtics can offer Allen more than the mid-level exception, which will likely be the market for him in the off-season (it is hard to imagine someone like the Knicks or Wizards offering him 8 or more million, given the other free agents available). And Pierce is not likely to get anywhere close to the salary — about $21.5 million — he is owed next year if he executes the early termination clause in his contract.

    So we could see the Big Four return, along with the addition of a mid-level exception free agent. But then, what about Doc?

    But I think most are pretty secure in the idea that even if the core stays in tact, it is too much to ask for them to make another serious and exhausting run, with declining health and skills. Further, only Perk, Davis, Rondo and Rasheed are signed with the team through next year for sure, and Wallace, Doc was saying, seems to be flirting with retirement (perhaps a blessing, contractually, for the C’s owners). And even if they do return, Ainge could always blow it up, and that is if he stays much longer.

    But if this is it — and we all seem to think so — I am certainly satisfied with Danny Ainge’s decision to trade the fruits of some very good drafts and make basketball relevant in Boston again.

    Bring on the Rondo era.

  3. Hi Dan:
    Great Blog!
    I wished the Celts could have pulled it off. My World Champions Illustration is now just a Eastern Conference Champions Illustration….Three weeks work down the drain,lol.
    P.S. I love Tim’s Photography too. – Dave

  4. dave denison

    You were right on target in your rebuke to Sarah P. However, we must now call you out: This assertion that you are not quite old enough to have seen Bill Russell play? Come on. The old battles between Wilt and Russell are lodged in my childhood memory — and I don’t believe I am more ancient than you. Think hard… Russell acting as player-coach in his last years? Taking on Wilt one more time after the stilt had gone to L.A.? any bells? You are nearing “elder statesman” status. Don’t hide from it.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Dave: I was a Red Sox fan in the late ’60s, but did not start following the Celtics until the great Hank Finkel took over for Russell. Not-so-good timing, eh?

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