With the NBA lockout still in play I've taken some time out on my day off to reflect on the Celtics Big 3 era of this generation. Believe it or not, but there's been a Big 3 on teams for decades, but you wouldn't know based how today's media climate defines a Big 3. You think it's only the Celtics or Heat. For years we've seen star players team up in 3's to get the chance at a title run. Some Big 3's haven been successful most haven't. During the 60's, 70's 80's and 90's we've seen or learned about teams like the Celtics, Lakers, Knicks, Pistons, Bulls, Sixers and Rockets all having Big 3's and being successful at winning championships. But the grass wasn't always green for these teams they had to face adversity before becoming successful. Star players like Russell, West, Bird, Erving, Jordan, Reed, Pipen, Thomas, Olajuwon and Magic had to deal with losing seasons and struggles in order to become successful later on.
In reality when superstars decided to team up it doesn't guarantee a win that goes for any sport or league and not just the NBA or basketball. In the late 90's the Seattle Sonics had Kemp, Payton, S.Perkins and Schrempf, but loss to Jordan and Pipen's Bulls in the 1996 finals. In the late 90's the Utah Jazz had Malone, Stockton and Hornacek, but they too lost to the Bulls in 97 and 98. Also in the late 90's Charles Barkley then in his early 30's teamed up with fellow hall of fame veterans Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon, and with those 3 dominate players one would assume an automatic title run, wrong! They were not successful at all during their time together. Another example; the Miami Heat.
Some teams were able to win titles with just 2 superstars. In 1999 it was David Robinson and Tim Duncan. In the early 2000's it was Shaq and Kobe. You know that old quote Three's a crowd? Speaking about the Lakers as a basketball and NBA fan I kind of got tired of seeing the Lakers win title after title; it was becoming annoying to watch the Western Conference win all the time. And during the early 2000's the eastern conference was weak at that time it was pretty much the Nets, Sixers and Pacers representing the east as far as the NBA finals.
Nothing against those teams, but who really wants to watch those small market teams ? Not me, but yea I watched them anyway I mean I love basketball can't help it. During the mid 2000's, the San Antonio Spurs had a resurgences lead by Tim Ducan, Tony Parker and Manui Ginobli which lead to 4 titles proving that small market teams can be successful. It was good times, for me watching the Lakers lose to the Spurs. But after a while I then again got tired of seeing a Western team win.
Fast-forward to 2004 the resurged Pistons with their Big 4 version lead by Chaunce Billups, Rip Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace and Tyshawn Prince. How great was it to see the Pistons vs Lakers in the NBA finals again, great to me! It was a good finals series and the Pistons won in classic fashion beating the Lakers and bringing a title back to the east. Yesss!
The Pistons were looked as contenders from 2004-2008, but were defeated by the Cavs and Heat between those years(2006-2007). In 2006, the Pistons lost to the Miami Heat's Wade and Shaq. That was the year Miami won the 2006 NBA Finals. In 2007, the Pistons lost to Lerbon's Cavs. The Cavs made it to the 2007 NBA Finals, but lost to the Spurs. Lebron choked then. Zinger!
Now which to takes me to the Celtics. Before Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen showed up the Celtics struggled badly for years, a decade. At times there were some high hopes for Celtics nation especially during Paul Pierce's and Antoine Walker's prime. In 2002, 2003 Pierce and Walker almost carried the C's into the finals, but came up short due to the Nets led by Jason Kidd. How can anyone forget that epic 2002 NBA Playoffs series vs the Nets. After 2002-03 that bright light dimmed to darkness with losing seasons from 2004-2007 with echo's of Rick Pitno's:
" Larry Bird is not walking through that door, fans. Kevin McHale is not walking through that door, and Robert Parish is not walking through that door. And if you expect them to walk through that door, they're going to be gray and old. What we are is young, exciting, hard-working, and we're going to improve. People don't realize that, and as soon as they realize those three guys are not coming through that door, the better this town will be for all of us because there are young guys in that (locker) room playing their asses off. I wish we had $90 million under the salary cap. I wish we could buy the world. We can't; the only thing we can do is work hard, and all the negativity that's in this town sucks. I've been around when Jim Rice was booed. I've been around when Yastrzemski was booed. And it stinks. It makes the greatest town, greatest city in the world, lousy. The only thing that will turn this around is being upbeat and positive like we are in that locker room... and if you think I'm going to succumb to negativity, you're wrong. You've got the wrong guy leading this team.
Not exactly true Rick! Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen decided to walk through that green door with the hopes of seeking a title. They too walked through and teamed up with an veteran superstar by the name of Paul Pierce.
Instant NBA title?
My own brother was shocked that Danny pulled of a trade like that getting two veteran superstars in Garnett and Allen to come to Boston. Boston! But that tells us a lot about Garnett and Allen. That two ball dominate superstars from small markets willing to go to a Celtics organization that has rich history, but haven't had success or a winning season in a decade or more. Once KG and Ray Allen came to Boston the chips fell into play and pretty much took it's course.
In 2008, the Celtics completed the largest single-season turnaround in NBA history. No team has yet to do that. But something attracted me this team in 2008, most of it had to do with Garnett, Allen and Pierce obviously. These guys had heart and were willing to sacrifice their stats for the better of their team. The 2008 Celtics had an old school NBA mentality hard play, hard fouls and hard work. As a basketball fan how can you not appreciate those elements in a team.
After the 2008 season the Big 3 got older which lead to some unfortunate injuries. In 2009, Celtics had a good regular season, but unfortunately lost Kevin Garnett for the entire post-season due to a knee injury and that deflated the air out of Celtics nation. But C's had one of the greatest Playoff series in NBA history the match up between Bulls vs Celtics that went 7 games. Without KG the Celtics couldn't advance deep into the 2009 playoffs. In 2010 same story, injuries lead to finishing poor in the regular season, but had a fantastic and impressive post-season run which lead to an epic NBA finals game 7. Nice, but at times tough to remember.
* 2010 offseason Lebron, Bosh and Wade teamed up. Arguably the most overrated professional sports team in the history of sports.
But in 2011 it looked as if their was some hope. Superstars Shaq, J.O., and Delonte joined. KG , Allen, Pierce and Daniels were all completely healthy. Glen Davis and Nate Robinson were much improved from the 2010 finals. Three good rookies the bench was looking sharp. The 2010-2010 had glimpse of the 2007-2008 season. Most writers and NBA experts were picking the Celtics to win it all.
The Celtics got off to great start at times while battling injuries, but finding ways to grind out wins. Fast-forward to the middle of season, a record of 39-11, Shaq, Jermaine, West, Perkins, Erden, Daniels all out due to lingering injuries...Danny does the trade u know the rest folks.
Sum up last few weeks of regular season:
* Kendrick Perkins gets traded.
* Most in Celtics nation and national media are upset with trade.
* Celtics can't win without Perkins?
* Celtics win 5 straight after trade.
*Celtics slump during last 2 months of regular season.
* Slump is being blamed for the Perkins trade.
* 15-12 record from late Feb-Apr.
* Big Baby is out for two weeks due to injury. Delonte and Wafer out during late Feb.
* Nenad Krstic gets hurt, Shaq hurt again kills C's momentum.
* Panic mode in Celtics nation!
* Danny relied too much in Jeff Green not realizing he needs time jell with C's.
* Celtics lose badly to Heat and Bulls, then giving up the 1and 2 seeds.
* Celtics kind of limp into Playoffs as #3 seed.
* Celtics struggling in RD 1, games 1 and 2 against Knicks, but win in dramatic fashion.
* Celtics sweep Knicks 4-0, pie in media face.
* Celtics face the Miami Heat.
* Here comes the hype machine.
* Heat has worst bench production in entire league.
* Celtics defeated by Heat in games 1 and 2. No big deal the top seed should win home games.
* Most experts (TNT, NBC Sports, MIA Herald, ESPN) and NBA fans still gave C's a chance to win series despite injuries and trades.
* Some basketball writers, bloggers felt refs favored Heat with many calls in games 1and 2.
* Pierce ejected in game 1. How does a superstar get ejected during heated playoffs series? Questionable to many sports writers?
* All important game 3 at TD Graden!
* Shaq plays despite serious Achilles and calv injury. Shaq took one for the team.
* KG and Pierce come guns blazing.
* Flash backs of the Minnesota KG.
* Celtics put on that 2008 Celtics toughness and defensive.
* Heat caught off guard have no answer.
* Bosh was caught off guard by Boston crowd. Seriously?
* Celtics down 2-0. Game 3 in at TD on Sat night. Boston fans are loud get real Chris Bosh!
* Rondo dislocates his elbow season is over! Know one knows yet?
* As Rondo goes so does the Celtics it's a fact. He runs 90% of the offense.
* Rondo's arm popped back into place. He comes back to play, fans go crazy.
* Momentum shifts in favor of C's again.
* Momentum high in Boston TD garden. Media and fans are shocked to see Rondo
* C's destroy Heat.
* Game 4 C's get out to a good start.
* Heat more prepared for game 4.
* Heat and Celtics go back n forth for 48mins in dramatic fashion.
* Rondo misses key layup to win game possibly
* OT C's run out of gas, poor bench play and sloppy play overall.
* Heat pull off upset.
* Game 5
* C's held lead for entire game, then basically gave up the final minutes to Miami.
* Imagine if C's won gm 5 and went back to TD Garden for gm 6.
* All eyes from across the globe would of watched game 6. Boston fans would of rocked TD Garden. Damn!
* Doesn't happen.
* Heat over celebrated. What is with the T-shirts ?
* Celtics don't shake hands expect for all Allen, Doc and West.
* James admits on live TV that he truly respects the Celtics. That is why he teamed up with Bosh and Wade simply to get past the C's. Sadly I believe that!
* Bottom line this series was seriously over-blown mostly by ESPN.
* No rivalry here with these two teams.
* During lockout Pierce, Allen party in NYC with Wade, James, Melo.
* From 2009-2011key injuries, fatigue have kept the Celtics from winning back to back titles.
* Big 3 era of KG, PP, RA will no doubt be seen as one the most successful Big 3 era of their generation.
* F.Y.I. ESPN is the CNN, FOX, MSNBC of sports news and info. ESPN trivializes 24/7 they think Lebron is the greatest better than Bird, Magic, Jordan, Kobe, or Pierce. Get real ESPN all these guys have rings and never choked when it mattered. So far greats like Magic, Jordan, Barkley will never give Lebron respect. Lebron is no doubt talented, but he's far from great especially at age 27. He teamed up with Wade and Bosh and basically tried to emulate what the C's did in 2008, but failed in epic style.
Not disrespect to Wade, James, Bosh they'll probably win a title or two, but they'll never do what the C's big 3 in KG, Pierce and Allen did for Boston and the NBA. Heart wins games not talent.
For now I'll reflect :
* Thanks for the memories KG, Pierce and Allen.