Celtics team reminds of former eras of greatness

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 23, 2008

As a young boy, one of my favorite NBA teams was the Cincinnati Royals. Oscar Robertson, Jack Twyman, and Maurice Stokes were the big three.

But Cincinnati traded Robertson to Milwaukee and moved to Kansas City, and later moved to their current home in Sacramento. That left my other favorite team: the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics had so many great names. Players like Bill Russell, Sam Jones, K.C. Jones, John Havlicek, and Bob Cousy were known throughout the country.

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In later years it was Larry Bird, Robert Parrish, Dennis Johnson, Danny Ainge and Kevin McHale who carried on the tradition.

Len Bias was drafted to carry on the torch, but he died tragically the night he was drafted. The Celtics never recovered.

Until now.

After the $10 million-a-year plan of hiring Rick Pitino as coach and general manager failed, Ainge returned to the hallowed Boston Gardens and began to assemble a team. And not just any team, but a Celtics team.

A Celtics team is unlike other teams. It has famous names and star power, but only as a team offensively and defensively. You have to play team ball and, more importantly, you have to play defense.

While the offense of Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett joining Paul Pierce were written about, the real key was their defense.

Pierce was a warrior on defense during the playoffs, especially against the Lakers’ star Kobe Bryant. And Garnett is not only a former league MVP but also the defensive player of the year.

Again, the Celtics stressed team play. Another key to winning a 17th NBA title last week was the fact Boston’s bench outplayed the Lakers’ bench.

And that brings us to the final ingredient. Doc Rivers was the right coach for the Celtics. Rivers worked hard to get the team to buy into the idea defense was the key.

The players bought into it, but the starting players who were buying the philosophy didn’t have the necessary equity. Enter Ainge and his trades that brought Allen and Garnett.

With the emotional Garnett taking a leadership role and Pierce showing everyone that he was one of the league’s premier players, the complimentary players elevated their game and the plan was complete.

The only thing that could make this better is if the Celtics moved to Cincinnati.

-- Sinatra --

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.