(Disclaimer: Use of "Chief", for this piece, will have nothing to do with Robert Parish. Sorry.)
Everytime I read a comment like: "Can Paul Pierce lead this team"? I often ask, mostly to myself, "Why does he have to?" Hang on now......really. Does he have to? Instead of the more traditional leadership model of 1 main chief, (so to speak) why shouldn't the Celtics employ a tribal council sort of of leadership system?
Let's look at some factors:
First, we know it can work. The current World Champion Detriot Pistons are a very good example of a Tribal Council style. Who's Detriot's leader? The answer is mostly whoever decides they want to be on a given night. You've got at least 4 guys who, arguably, could be Chiefs on thier own: Rip Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace. Now 'Sheed is probably the best of these guys, from an overall sense, but each guy can take control any night. Playing a team where they can exploit the pg matchup = they go heavily to Billups. Got a post size advantage to exploit = Send the ball into the Wallace boys. Just need a reliable 20pt guy a night = Rip.
After all that, then you get to throw in the "young buck" element = Tayshaun Prince.
Tell me that we don't, in a somewhat distorted mirror, look like Detriots team in the next year or 2?
Perkins isn't at his level, but could be the guy that we equate with Big Ben. Offense is a plus, but can control the paint as a shot blocking specialist. Perkins is starting to show a flair for shot blocking and is the best on the team for rebounding and hitting the outlet to get the offense going. Coincidentally also an attribute which Big Ben has.
Al Jefferson is already spotting on the national radar for rookies. By next year or the year after, he's the guy that fills the 'Sheed role. He can be dominant in the paint in games you feature him in. His handle and footwork allows him to be a menace in the paint.
Tony Allens game isn't likely to be denied, assuming he stays injury free. His defense has already seen time matched up with some of the leagues best.
Then you've got Ricky Davis. He's already at or near the head of the class for consideration for 6th Man of the Year, even at this early juncture in the season. He also continues to only get better.
(Sniff, Sniff,......You smell that). That's potentially 4 players who are going to be stars in their own right AND you haven't yet thrown Paul Pierce or Raef LaFrentz into that mix.
Raef's knee issues make it easy to phase him to coming off the bench, as the rookies develop.
Now, I'll forego the ineveitable comments by hitting the Pierce issue buttons right now: He's appeared selfish at times this season and at times has not hustled to meet the teams needs. However, the majority of nights he doesn't resemble either comment and has seemed to be improving at trusting his teammates, etc. The next comment will be, "Can Pierce make the transition" Well, I'll give that one to you to speculate and watch for, I guess, because only time will tell. It will depend on both Pierce and whether that speculated rookie development happens or not.
If we can keep this team together, in a year or 2, I don't think we'll have any choice but for this team to not really have one or 2 leaders, but rather a floor full of them. That will make life easier for guys like Pierce, who don't seem to like being the guy that everyone looks to thrust a microphone at, expecting cordial answers.
I hope my thought here isn't too far off of what becomes reality, because sitting back and taking a look at what I'll admit is still a somewhat "out there" thought,.......The view's nice. I'm sure some will consider this to be a blatentely optimistic outlook on the situation and I'll conceed to some degree that it is. I could be wildly wrong about the rookies development potential and/or wrong about Pierce being able to fully make the adjustment.
However, just for a little while, let me keep dreaming.....