1) Since the Garnett trade, you've heard statements like:
"The Celtics traded away their future."
"The Celtics will be right back where they were in a few years."
"They threw away everything for stars on the downside."
Mmmm. Questionable words, don't you think?
Last week's article was partly about a door; this week's is mostly about windows. I'm here to talk about the ghosts of championship windows past, present and future:
2) The Ghost Of Windows Past:
What we are about to witness is the 4th window of potential Celtic championships.
Window #3 was the Bird era. Perceived window (the number of seasons people thought the Celtics could contend for the title): around 8 years. Actual window (the time between their first and last titles): 1981 through 1986; 6 years.
Window #2 was the Havlicek/Cowens era. Perceived window: around 5 years. Actual window: 1974 through 1976; 3 years.
Window #1— the Crystal Cathedral of NBA championship windows: 13 years. Actual window: 1957 through 1969; also 13. Russell and company won coming in and won going out; none of this "waiting to gel" stuff, and no long painful decline on the back end. Just wall to wall winning. Amazing.
Listen... angels are singing. Can you hear them?
3) The Ghost of Windows Future:
What am I the danged Oracle of freakin' Delphi? How should I know what will happen next? It doesn't matter right now. Que double-sera.
There's a lot more to say on that subject but for the moment let's concentrate on...
4) The Ghost of Windows Present:
The actual window of the first three green empires was 13, 3, and 6 years respectively. I'm talking about real championships with those numbers, not maybe-could've championships. So here we are after being locked in a dark dungeon for two decades with no windows and a busted door. Suddenly we're looking at a team with a chance to win everything again.
5) How Long Will This 4th Window Last?:
No one knows its duration. When this window closes it might turn out to be surprisingly big or might not ever have been there at all, just an illusion of that deranged prisoner in the dungeon. Right now though it looks very real and very wonderful.
To guess its extent let's realize that the 4th window is not being opened by a rookie like Russell's and Bird's were. Instead look at what Bill Walton calls "The MIddle Dynasty," the Tommy Heinsohn coached blazingly-fast champions of the 1970's. They did have great young players but John Havlicek -the cornerstone of that team's success- was of similar vintage to the current Big Three. The 70s team won two titles in three years. Only a Havlicek shoulder injury in the playoffs kept them from hanging a third banner. As windows go it was fairly short.
But TWO titles... What would TWO titles make you feel like right now?
It's very possible the 4th window could become comparable to the 2nd— easily enough time to win long-sought banner #17 and maybe more.
6) Back To The Future:
"The Celtics Traded Away Their Future." You've heard that statement. It came from the same people who repeatedly said the Celtics youth was overrated, not worth anything, and that the team HAD no future. ...Until they were traded; then suddenly the same players somehow become indispensible.
These gloomy analysts were wrong then and they're wrong now. As it turned out the Celtics young guys were worth a lot, and the future is yet to be written. Over time great teams make their own destiny.
7) Look West:
What are the championship prospects of the Dallas Mavericks and of the Phoenix Suns? (Does it even matter?) Those teams have won as many titles as the Celtics in the last two decades: zero. They're touted as great and successful franchises. Everyone said they had huge windows. Well, maybe they'll win something yet...
The reality of their situation is this: To this point their perceived windows have amounted to nothing.
The only thing that matters is actually winning, and this Celtics team has a chance to do just that right now, this very season. They have the every bit the same chance as the Suns or Mavs.
8) In closing the discussion I have one last thought that sums everything up: "It's not the size of your window. It's how you use it."
9) Tommy Heinsohn is loved. He's slowing down a little bit physically, and reports have implied that he's been dealing with medical problems within his family. While respecting his privacy, I want to wish Tommy and those close to him all the best through whatever it is that's going on. Tommy Heinsohn has meant so much to so many for so long. He's the one man who deserves to be in all three branches of the hall of fame as a player, a coach, AND a broadcaster. Best wishes Tommy, to you and to yours.
10) Swagger Update:
A few weeks back I wrote an article about swagger. Mike Gorman brought up the same subject again a few days ago. Here he is quoted in Mike Fine's article in the Patriot Ledger on September 22nd:
‘‘It’s much easier to broadcast a good team than a bad team,’’ Gorman said. ‘‘I’m to the point of my career now where I’m not an objective journalist. I’m the Celtics play-by-play guy. Now to be able to walk into a building and inwardly having a little bit of a swagger, and to go on the air with a little bit of a swagger - I can’t wait.’’
...That goes for all of us.