Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck is known for being passionate about his team, forthright with his opinions, and of course great hair (how does he do it?). He has also been kind enough to occasionally answer some questions for us exclusively at CelticsBlog.com - This year was no exception and the following is that exchange (questions in bold):
We’ve had quite the run of star point guards. Rajon Rondo to Isaiah Thomas to Kyrie Irving to Kemba Walker. What lasting impressions do you have from each of them?
There is a common denominator that all four of them have an intense competitive drive and passion for winning. They are special talents and special players, each one of them. I don’t want to compare and contrast them in detail, it would not do them justice. I will say Rajon came in as a very young player and led us to a championship as the starting PG in his second season, and I won’t forget that. Isaiah and Kyrie gave us unforgettable performances, and electrified the Garden multiple times. Kemba obviously has a special spark and I can’t wait to see what happens with him. We have been lucky to have each of them here.
We’ve talked about this in the past but for the new readers: What is your level of involvement with transactions like contract extensions, trades, and free agent signings? I know you insisted on keeping Rondo out of the original Kevin Garnett deal. Have there been any decisions made at your level that you regretted?
Danny runs the basketball side, day to day, in close consultation with Brad and the talented basketball staff. Sometimes decisions are so momentous that they require additional involvement. The responsibility of having Danny and Brad run basketball sits with me, in consultation with my principal ownership partners. The best thing for us to do, day to day, is to find amazingly talented basketball people, and focus primarily on giving them the resources they need, in a relentless pursuit of the goal of winning. You’ll always have a regret or two, and I have said I wished we didn’t trade Kendrick Perkins, still one of my favorite people. So I won’t go back on that statement, but at the time we all agreed to give the trade a go.
When it comes to paying the luxury tax, as a fan it is easy for me to say “it isn’t my money” but in your case, it actually is. You’ve said in the past that you would pay the tax for a championship contender (and you have) but as we learned last year, those things don’t always go according to plan. How do you go about deciding if it is worth paying it? It must be somewhat similar to making investment valuations on companies.
Our goal is to win championships, and we’ve consistently spent over the line in order to have the opportunity to contend. Whenever in doubt, I try to think about what Red, Bill Russell, and all the greats who built the Celtics, would want me/us to do. Celtic Pride comes first around here.
Are there any league rule changes that you would like to see made in the near future? (examples may be moving the draft to after free agency, lowering the draft age, or changing the tampering rules)
I have spoken in favor of reducing incentives to tank, such as flattening the draft lottery, and we did some of that. I similarly spoke in favor of more regulations to deter tampering. I am always ready to look at rules changes to improve game flow and enable our great players to compete at their best.
The growing partnership with the G-League had developed (pun intended) to the point where you have purchased the Maine Red Claws. What led to that decision and what are your plans for the team in the future?
We really like what the ownership, fans and sponsors have built in Portland, and we are proud that they are now part of the broader Celtics family. We plan to double down on our player development activities, such as this year with two-way players Tacko Fall and Tremont Waters, to do good substantive work in the community to support a number of charitable initiatives, and work on enhancing the fan experience as we continue the club’s proud history.
In the city of Boston, there’s been an unprecedented amount of success achieved by the area’s professional sports teams. What level of interaction do you have with the other franchises and how much do you share in terms of ideas and best practices? What challenges are there specific to basketball in terms of building a consistent and sustainable winner?
I consider the owners of the Red Sox, Patriots and Bruins to be personal friends and great people. I speak with the other owners all the time, and see them a lot. It has been a real pleasure to work with them all for years, and I am looking forward to many years more, with many more Boston parades. Our coaching staff works closely with several of the other teams, sharing ideas and techniques, and we have hosted several other Boston athletes in our training facilities over the years, for specialized training needs. I haven’t found any other city in the world where the sports teams cooperate and get along like we do here, and where the fans cheer for all four teams. It makes Boston unique, the City of Champions.
This is the Celtics, so there’s always pressure to win Championships. What would you like the fans to know about this year’s team and the overall direction of the franchise?
We are doing our best, with the primary goal always to win a banner. This is a talented team, I really like what I’ve seen so far. We can all expect that this team will play with maximum effort and togetherness every night. And the league is more open this year, there are a number of teams that feel like they have a chance to go deep and even contend. But we really won’t know how good we can be until we’ve played more games. All in all, I’m optimistic about our present, and committed to our future.
We appreciate everyone’s support over these years, and I feel that support very strongly whenever I talk with any of my fellow fans in person. Thanks for being part of this journey.
Thanks for your time Wyc. Keep up the great work.