In what is becoming an annual tradition, we are pleased to bring you the following interview with Wyc Grousbeck, Managing Partner & Governor of the Boston Celtics. Enjoy!
1. You are on top of the world and you've won the hearts of Celtics fans everywhere. As an organization how do you capture this moment and capitalize on it from a marketing and fan experience standpoint?
In terms of how I run the team, my people and I are simply trying to do more of what got us here. We thank the fans sincerely every day, we thank the sponsors, we support Danny and Doc as they pull together and develop the team, we dig deep when necessary, we make all decisions with the idea of Celtic Pride as the main goal. Those principles set the tone for the organization and the marketing and the fan experience.
2. Compare and contrast (the best you can) the feelings you had the moment you learned that we didn't win the lottery and the moment you knew game 6 of the Finals was in hand.
Not winning the lottery – sheer misery. Which was made worse by knowing that in 50 or 55 minutes everybody who bleeds green would be feeling just as bad as I was feeling at that moment (I found out early because I was in the lottery ball room). I felt terrible for myself and even worse for the people like Tommy and Helen Heinsohn and everyone else who still had hope. Then – winning the Finals – indescribable. I haven’t stopped smiling since that minute. And again it isn’t just happiness for myself, it is for all of us. The parade was what really capped it all off – what a turnout, what a feeling.
3. Danny, Doc, and Paul took a lot of heat over the years. What did you see in these men that made you stick by them? Have you spent the offseason writing "I told you so" emails to everyone you could think of? (nobody would blame you)
For one thing all three of them are committed to the idea that the team is what’s important, and they are champions now because they demonstrated that . Their work ethic and their accomplishments really speak for themselves at this point. They have each stepped up and played a big part in this championship season. All three value being a Celtic very highly and take special pride in adding a banner to our collection. As far as "I told you so", (1) nobody is perfect at making decisions, including me and my partners, (2) debate, uncertainty and doubt are part of the fun of sports – it would be no fun at all if it were all obvious and preordained; and (3) our rings will do the talking for us.
4. You have said all along that you were willing to pay luxury tax money for championships and you proved it last year. This summer the team decided not to give James Posey a 4th year. Was that more of a financial decision or a basketball decision?
I don’t really want to get in the habit of dissecting individual player moves. James was a big part of our success and he deserves the ring he is going to get from us, to add to his Miami ring. We hope he is happy in New Orleans and we know the Hornets got a fantastic player.
5. There are some developing trends in ticket sales and pricing that I wanted your take on. What do you think of the Variable Price Tickets? (Pros/Cons) How about Personal Seat Licenses? Are there any recent or near future changes in the Celtics ticket sales strategy we should be aware of?
They way I look at it most all season tickets have a variable price aspect to them built in anyway. Some games will be viewed as more valuable than others, and so even if you pay one flat price you might be sort of assigning more value to some games (a Friday night vs. your favorite rival team, or a playoff game you had the right to buy a ticket to) over another game (a game versus a weaker team). Whether or not a team assigns different prices, we know most fans assign different values to games, and when they buy a big bundle of tickets then you can say the variable prices are built in to the single flat price we charge. PSLs don’t come into our view right now because we have a long term arrangement at the Garden.
6. The sale and move of the Sonics had to be approved by the other owners. I believe I read that you voted in favor of the sale. Can you explain what factors you considered?
I can briefly say I listened to my fellow owners and the league staff when they concluded that Key Arena was unfortunately substandard for the NBA .
7. David Stern wants to expand globally but there are major obstacles to putting teams overseas (long road trips, expansion dilutes the talent pool, etc.). What are your thoughts on the globalization of the NBA?
I support the Commissioner’s efforts which have been ongoing for decades overseas. He has slides from official trips to China back in the 1980s. It now is paying off. The game of basketball is global, one of the two truly global major sports, and we are in charge of its leading teams, so I think we should keep looking for worldwide growth one way or another.
8. Do you have any untold, behind-the-scenes stories to share with us? Perhaps something about the KG trade or the Italy trip or even the playoffs?
The first time I saw KG carefully examine each of our 16 championship banners, I knew we were going to likely hang a 17th one. Then he turned to me and promised me we would get number 17. That was unforgettable. Then, I saw KG, Paul and Ray running wind sprints at 8:30 am in early September last year...they were already bonded together and focused. It is a great feeling knowing you are the favorites to win a world championship. Another moment that stands out is realizing with 2:20 to go in the Detroit game that we were going to win that game and make the Finals. Somewhere under the stands in Detroit there was a room and a silver trophy for me and the team. Amazing. Finally – we were all loaded in the Duck Boats, beginning the parade. I thought it would be a nice cheerful crowd. But we pulled out onto Causeway St and this roar started. The parade crowd was 10 times bigger than any of us expected. I will never forget it.
9. Speaking as a fan, what dates do you have circled on your calendar? What else can we be looking forward to?
Let’s have a great Opening Night on Oct 28th and extend this season just like last year. Thanks everyone.