Sunday, November 11, 2007

BEST PART OF WAKING UP... seeing your Celtics are off to a 5-0 start.
The Celtics are back, my friends. And I'll agree that it's pretty hard not to be with the talent of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and, my man, Paul Pierce. Last night, we improved to 5-0 by beating the Nets. Yeah, I know, it's the Atlantic Division, but the way this team is playing, you can't help but get those Christmas-morning bumblebees. It's been a long road back for the C's. I mean, the franchise was lucky to survive those horrid Dino Radja-Dee Brown days. Moreover, I'm lucky Red made it through those days. Those were the seasons following Reggie Lewis' death which I would contend was where it all fell apart. Reggie was the future. Dude sprinted the court, stop and shoot with more accuracy than anyone in the league. He had the poise and confidence of players with twice the league experience. Then, in the summer of 1993, he fell dead on the court with an irregular heartbeat. The season before, Reggie, the team's new scoring leader, led the young Celtics to a 48-34 record as McHale and Parish rode into the sunset. The season following his passing, the Celtics went 32-50. The next season, even with the help of an aged Dominique Wilkins, the Celtics only won three more games and finished 35-47. Then, the tailspin. The next year, we fell to 33-49. In 1996-97, even with the addition of rookie Antoine Walker, we posted our worst record in the history of the franchise. We pinched off 15 turds and called them "wins," but we were fortunate the league even let us play. Horrible. The next season was better, but still far from a winning season. Even though, young players like (now World Champions) Bruce Bowen and Chauncey Billups would help improve the team, front office would eventually trade them off. They'd never look back.

We did, however, hold on to a kid named "Pervis" for five seasons too long. God bless him.

When Paul joined the team, the impact wasn't immediate, but after four years of building, Celtics fans would finally see a team at full throttle. Paul and Antoine helped the Celtics post a 49-33 record in 2001-02 with the stout play of great role players like Eric Williams, Tony Battie (from Texas Tech), Tony Delk, Walter McCarty. A few playoff appearances, but no championships and the hiring of Danny "Franchise Killah" Ainge would lead to the mysterious release of Antoine Walker to the Dallas Mavericks. It was the kinda "dark days" that brought back the stinging memory of the future of the franchise dying in the off-season. Danny Ainge ("et tu, Brute?"), former beloved Celtic was now wrecking the team from the front office. Meanwhile, Celtic greats Kevin McHale and Larry Legend were successful GM's in Minnesota and Indiana respectively?! Why in the hell do we get Ainge?!

Last season in the wake of Red's death, Paul Pierce, as captain, couldn't drive his team to more than 24 victories--a mark that was only out-embarrassed by the 15-win season of 1996-97. The franchise was about to shrivel up and die. Paul would've jumped ship if given the chance. But then, Danny Ainge grew a pair of marbles and actually went out and got his players.

After being a sure-shot for the number one draft pick, the ping-pong lottery was mean as hell to us when we had more balls than anyone (ping-pong) but got out balled by four other teams. We got the fifth pick. So freaking awesome. Greg Oden would've been nice. Durant, although young and frail, would've also been a great addition. Our future was going to come in the form of kid named Jeff Green. We'd forfeit the draft rights to Green as well as two players to Seattle for Ray Allen. And, in what would otherwise be considered an assanine move, we'd trade off of our young core of Al Jefferson and Ryan Gomes along with, uh, an entire second team to Kevin McHale's Timberwolves for disgruntled all-star Kevin Garnett.

Meanwhile in the league, Durant's not fooling anyone and Oden's will sit out his first year to surgery on this balky knee. Thanks, Jeff Green.

Sure, the stacking of the Celtics recalls the Yankees of the last four years, but make no mistake, unlike the Yankees, a championship is not necessarily a sure thing. You got some stout teams in the West--the Suns, the Spurs, the Mavericks, the Jazz, the Nuggets, the Rockets. Nope, it ain't guaranteed, but I gotta like my chances. Go Celtics.

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