Two days after soaking in the love of the fans in his basketball home, Sam Cassell bathed in the admiration of the fans in his real hometown. And after spending most of Saturday evening as the center of attention at a celebrity charity game at the Towson Center, Cassell proclaimed that neither Boston, Baltimore nor the NBA had seen the last of him in uniform.
"I'm playing next year, playing my 16th year," Cassell said without hesitation, minutes after the conclusion of the game put on by his friend and fellow Dunbar alumnus Kurk Lee, benefiting Lee's foundation.
"After winning a championship, it's just so hard to walk away from that," Cassell said, describing the title he contributed to with the Celtics last week, their 17th in franchise history and Cassell's third. "Certain guys did it, but as I tell the guys, every great movie has a sequel. And since we consider ourselves a great team, we've got to go and repeat."
This is kind of sad really. If you are anything like me, you were hoping that Sam would be happy with his third ring, a nice way to go out on a high note. But you didn't really want him back on the Celtics.
By all accounts he's not a bad guy. It was just that every shot he put up was like nails on a chalkboard for Celtics fans. It was typically too early in the shot clock and out of the offensive rhythm. Sometimes they went in, giving you that awkward "no, no, no... well, ok" moment. Then after his next 5 misses, Doc would pull him out and you thought, "good, Doc's finally done with him." Except he'd be right back on the floor a game or two later.
So in the end, he helped us win a couple games in the regular season, didn't do anything to permanently hurt us in the post season, and we were all sort of hoping to see him go with a smile on his face. Maybe even come back as an assistant coach.
Now he wants to come back to the Celtics. It remains to be seen how much the Celtics want him back. I suppose it is possible that with a full preseason and training camp under his belt, he could understand the offense a little better. On the other hand, he's pretty much the definition of an old dog that isn't about to learn many new tricks.
Thanks for the memories Sam. It was a fun ride, but I'm hoping that you don't get your wish to come back as a player. I just think we should see other people. It's not you, it's me. (I can't stand seeing you shoot 6 times in 10 minutes while Ray gets cold standing in the corner wide open) It's better this way. Thanks for being part of a special season. Keep smiling.