Steve Bulpett has some interesting quotes from Doc Rivers about last year's team:
"I thought last year there were so many other things going on - you know, contracts, fanfare, all that. I tell you, I think especially with the young guys, admiration is a difficult beast to deal with. How you handle that on a day-to-day basis is very challenging. I think that was a distraction that as a group we didn’t handle nearly as well as I’d like and as well as we could have.
"I thought we had a lot of different agendas. Guys were looking out for their own situations more than the team situation. That came through all year. It was never anything really big, but it was there all year. You could see it in little things, and I think when you take it as a whole it really had an effect on our season."
"Once you have success, it’s a boost to you and your confidence," he said. "That should be good, but sometimes guys take it in a different direction. They start thinking a little too much about their own situation, and it can be hard not to when everywhere you go people are telling you how great you are. It can be hard to keep things in perspective, and I think that was a problem for us last year.
"But I think that was a great teaching tool for us as we go into this year. It was a great lesson. Obviously I wouldn’t have wanted to learn that lesson as a group, but I think we did. I think because of that pressure, at times we were less tolerant of each other. That’s player to player more than player to coach."
Interesting stuff. There was a noticeable lack of "ubuntu" talk in the media last year, but there weren't many reports of team conflicts or distractions, either. When thinking of players playing for themselves, rather than the team, the first guy from last year's team to come to mind would be Stephon Marbury. However, Doc has had nothing but good things to say about him in the past, and Doc's criticism seemed to be mostly on the younger guys. Who are the culprits, then? The most likely candidates have to be Big Baby, Powe, and Rondo, just because they were all learning their way in the NBA last year, and enjoying some success. Let's hope, whatever the issue was, that it doesn't become a further distraction this year.