Former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy (SVG) was speaking to a radio station AM 740 in Orlando and said some things regarding the nature of stars congregating together to make a championship team. According to the Bulls ESPN blog, SVG was being questioned about the long-term viability of Orlando since two all-star centers have now left the franchise.
SVG was speculating that Derrick Rose may realize that joining other stars on another team may be the easiest path to a championship. Admittedly, Rose is currently the only star in Chicago. Indeed, he may find he can't lead the team to a championship after he recovers from the repair of his torn ACL early next year. And so, SVG put it out there, because . . . well he's been through having a disgruntled star on his former team already in the name of Dwight Howard.
The new reality is that it seems that the stars now start calling the shots. SVG thinks the Celtics reconstitution in the summer of 2007 started it all.
"The league has changed. It used to be the stars wanted to sort of have their own team, they certainly wanted good players around them, but now everything's changed. I think it started with the Celtics, bringing (Kevin) Garnett, (Paul) Pierce and (Ray) Allen together and everybody saw that and decided, 'Look, this is the only way we're going to win."
But really, the Celtics are very different. They were never about "teaming up".
What Dwight Howard with the Magic, Chris Paul with the Hornets, and Carmelo Anthony with the Nuggets were trying to do, and what LeBron James and Chris Bosh did, is not according to the code by which the Celtics 17th Championship was built. The Celtics went through a lot of pain to acquire Garnet and Allen. They were not gifted to the Celtics and the Celtics essentially traded their future talent to make it happen. Also, neither player tried to orchestrate anything for their respective trades to happen.
The post-2007 Celtics were built the old-fashioned way. They were built by the General Manager Danny Ainge with the backing of the Celtics' ownership by stockpiling draft picks, expiring contracts and having young talented players to trade. Ray Allen had three years left on his contract and Kevin Garnett had two years remaining when they arrived in Boston. Neither were trying to steer their futures with other teams and attempt to force the hand of their team execs to trade them. The only detail that had to be discussed was getting Garnett's buy-in for a 3 year extension. But even if that wasn't agreed to, they still could have had Garnettt for two years.
It's complicated for sure. Owners, GMs and Coaches want their team to win. Players want to win. But the players giving up a potential legacy with their original teams to "team up" with other players is very distinct strategy and seemingly began in 2010 with Lebron James and Chris Bosh both taking less money to play with Dwayne Wade and their GM Pat Riley's regime. At that time, the player collusion theories directed toward what the Heat went rampant, with accusations by Mavs owner Mark Cuban and of course, the Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. But David Stern shot the "collusion theory" down.
Michael Jordan doused the Miami "Three-Party" by saying that the greatest players in his day (Bird, Magic, etc.) would never considered joining together in order to win. Jordan did acknowledge that it's not a "bad thing" what MIA did, and players choosing where to sign in free agency is "an opportunity these kids have today". Jordan just said he couldn't foresee teaming up with other stars in his day. Instead, he was focused on beating those same foes
The "Super Friends" theory to team-building is a relatively new one indeed, and you have to wonder if participation on the USA national team gives the players the opportunity to form bonds to the point where other stars are no longer enemies but teammates. On the 2006 USA team, Bosh, Wade and James reportedly expressed their mutual interest to play together when the opportunity would present itself in 2010. Before the Dream Team assembled in 1992, the only time the NBA stars played together would be the All-Star weekend.
As Scoop Jackson of ESPN wrote, Jordan didn't see that the "friend" analogy already existed to some extent amongst franchises:
"The deal with James, Bosh and Wade is as rooted in friendship as the arrangement Kevin McHale and Danny Ainge made that sent Kevin Garnett to Boston. McHale and Ainge were teammates for nine years in Boston and won three rings together. They maintained a friendly relationship as general managers of different franchises in their post-playing careers. Think their history together had nothing to do with KG landing in [Boston]?"
Point taken. But for the fans, the team stays and the players come and go. The players are drafted, signed, extended, traded, waived, and sometimes have their numbers retired to have them hang from the rafters. The Celtics tradition is most certainly about the TEAM, and although they have their share of hall-of-famers that they can associate with the team, the team and the star players have shared the same legacy. That is what the Celtics are all about.
I guess I'm okay with the GMs fraternizing, because they should have their fans first and foremost in their mind. If the players just want to win a championship anywhere with anyone, well I guess you'd want to be a fan of the superstars versus a fan of a team.
But how are the fans to embrace that?
Uh-oh - I can see it now - player pages overtake the team pages on the blogs! Welcome to Team Rondo!
But now you can see how this James-Bosh to Miami thing has snowballed. Carmelo Anthony steered his destination in 2011, followed by Chris Paul and the on-going saga of Dwight Howard manipulating where he was going to go. Howard didn't seem to get his wish of destinations as he wanted to join Deron Williams in Brooklyn. The Lakers took him without a contract extension in hand and so we'll see how that plays out.
Maybe if the 23-and-under rule for the Olympics dies down then the fraternizing between payers will as well. But I yearn for players that are appreciative of the chance to make millions of dollars for the sake of supporting a team to their fullest. Leave their post-contract destination to the off-season. The Dwightmare in Orlando should not be wished on any team, and you have to feel for Coach SVG and what he had to go through.