Once The Celtics Were Great

By Tom Donelson
Updated: June 24, 2007

IOWA CITY, Ia. — I am a Boston Celtic fan and have followed them since the days of Bill Russell.

The Celtics are considered cursed since the days of Len Bias’ death after being drafted in 1986.

It didnt help that they failed to garner Tim Duncan in 1997 or most recently failed to get enough ping pongs to draft either Kevin Durant or Greg Odom.

There are those who feel that the fate of the Celtics would have been different if they had drafted Tim Duncan. Rick Pitino left Kentucky to take the Celtics’ job knowing that he had two shots at getting Tim Duncan since the Celts had two lottery picks.

Guess what, they failed.

So was Duncan the reason that the Spurs won four title in nine years and the Celtics have drifted from mediocrity to being complete awful?

Duncan is the reason that Spurs won four titles but there is no guranatee that the Celtics would have won four titles or even one with Duncan

The reality is that since Red Auerbach left others to run the day to day operation of the Celtics, the Celtics have sucked. Twice in the past decade, the Celtics made the playoffs only to be torn down and start over.

Bad trades and drafts have crippled the franchise. Rick Pitino may have been a good coach but he suffered the handicap of having to coach the players that GM Rick Pitino put on the floor.

Jim O’Brien was the most successful of Celtic coaches over the past decade having led the Celtics to the playoffs on a couple of occasion before the team was torn down.

His strategy consisted on throwing up three pointers and pray that his team could outscore the other team. Doc Rivers coached the Celtics to the playoffs in his first season ,but then GM Danny Ainge decided to do what other Celtic leaders have done: trade away veterans and start over.

This past season, the Celtics engaged in a new strategy; lose as many games as possible to garner as many ping pongs as they could.

That didn’t work either. This strategy showed how the Mighty Celtics fell as they resorted to tanking the season just to get the chance to grab either Odom or Durant.

The reason that the Spurs have won their championships was that they drafted well and picked up the right role players to surround Tim Duncan.

And it didn’t hurt that when Duncan came to the Spurs, David Robinson was willing to sacrifice his own scoring to work with Tim Duncan.

That set the pattern for future Spurs team. And they drafted well. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili showed that despite drafting high, San Antonio found stars to help compliment Duncan.

The Celtics, who drafted lower years and years, have drafted only one star over the past decade and Paul Pierce came to the Celtics by accident as he fell to10th in 1998. Al Jefferson may prove to be a star in his own right, but Ainge is attempting to include him in the propsed four-team trade involving Kevin Garnett.

This is the team that picked Chauncey Billups (third overall in the 1997 NBA Draft) only to trade him half way through his rookie year. Billups have been one of the best point guards in the league for the past several years.

The Celtics prove that if you have a bad front office, you will end up in the basement and owning lottery picks year after year.

Now Boston’s has the fifth overall pick in one of the deeper drafts in memory. They have enough young talent to build upon.

Sometimes, patience is the wise path.

San Antonio has won consistently because they have one of the best front offices in the business and they have a Hall of Fame coach. This is a team that resembled the old Celtics team based on teamwork and pride.

The Spurs have what the Celtics had in their heyday, great players led by good coaches and a front office that often made right personal decisions more often than not.