BOSTON — Wyc Grousbeck has been the majority owner of the Boston Celtics for 21 years, along with Steve Pagliuca. On Wednesday afternoon, Grousbeck spoke with authenticity after the Celtics finished up their second practice of the season.
This is the most “energized, connected” group C’s management has seen in years
“We watched practice today, the rest of us, and Jrue [Holiday] was out there,” said Grousbeck. “In my 21 years of being here, for me and Steve, we’ve agreed, this was just one of the most energized, focus-driven, completely, insanely, connected groups.”
Since the 2016-2017 season, Boston has four Eastern Conference finals appearances, in addition to an NBA Finals berth in 2022 against the Golden State Warriors. Unable to seize the Larry O’Brien trophy, Boston decided to overhaul a majority of their roster. The departure of Grant Williams, Marcus Smart, Malcom Brogdon, and Robert Williams opened the door for the acquisitions of Kristaps Porzingis, Jrue Holiday, rookie Jordan Walsh, and several others.
Despite their failed effort to win multiple championships, Grousbeck admits there is some “annoyance.” Boston now has nine straight playoff appearances without a single banner for their troubles. “We’ve been in, what, five conference finals in the last six or seven years? We’ve been knocking on the door, we’ve been in The Finals, leading The Finals, and lost,” said the Celtics owner. “Last year, we were down 0-3, came back, and lost Game 7. It couldn’t be more frustrating.”
Boston acquires defensive juggernaut Jrue Holiday
On the eve of training camp, Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens and management got their wish. Boston acquired point guard Jrue Holiday in exchange for Malcom Brogdon, Robert Williams, a 2024 first-round pick, and a 2029 unprotected first-round pick.
Media Day came and went without Holiday, and several of the members expressed their eagerness for his arrival. On Wednesday afternoon, #4 was finally introduced and Celtics executives could hardly contain their jubilation.
A member of the media was quick to point out the smile on Stevens’ face. “This is the most emotional we’ve seen you show on here.” Stevens responded, “Bad day to play poker with you.”
Jrue loves the fan environment at TD Garden ☘️ pic.twitter.com/03y7IuYUDa— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 4, 2023
“We just came out of practice. We got a chance to see this group go at it. If you were sitting anywhere right around the corner, you were in danger of getting hit by balls that were thrown,” said Stevens. After practice, the former coach acknowledged the team made several mistakes together, but there’s something unique about this year's squad.
“There’s that thing that’s there, right? There’s a togetherness, there’s an excitement, there’s joy, competitiveness,” Stevens mentioned.
Known for his defensive prowess, Holiday made an instant impact on that end of the floor against Jaylen Brown and Phil Pressey. “I told Jrue, when he went and got into Phil [Pressey], and almost made him quit coaching when he was guarding him, that made me happy. So, I guess that’s maybe why I’m smiling,” said Stevens. One of the best perimeter defenders in the league, Holiday brings a much-needed defensive presence for the Celtics backcourt. With the departure of Marcus Smart and Grant Williams, his arrival fills an enormous void.
After passing his post-trade physical, the guard was able to take part in his first practice as a member of the Boston Celtics. A two-time NBA All-Star, 5x All-Defensive Team, and NBA champion, Holiday joins an iconic organization that only has sights on winning.
Grousbeck compares the vibes to the 2008 championship team
Grousbeck couldn’t hide his excitement either. The C’s haven’t captured a title since 2008 when they had Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo. Holiday is the only current Celtic with a ring.
“So, there’s just a lot of championship qualities that you [Holiday] are bringing to the table,“ said the C’s owner to Boston’s newest acquisition. “We want to welcome you to the Celtics. Sincerely, it means everything to us that you’re here. We take this very seriously, and when we partner, we partner.”
“I remember 2008 when that team got put together, that feeling, and Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen walked into the first practice and joined everyone else, and all of a sudden, things just felt different,” Grousbeck told the media. “I just want to say there was just a real feeling of optimism.”
Celtics owners are in it for the long haul
As a Celtics fan, it was refreshing to hear Grousbeck’s long-term ambitions. With a talented roster comprised of several All-Stars, he expressed his desire to compete for a championship well beyond this season. “I look at the next six years as a real opportunity for us, not to take anything away from this year,” said the C’s owner.
“We’re going to keep going. It would be nice if it was this year, and we have the makings this year, but so do a bunch of other teams,” said Wyc. With a little bit of luck, connectivity, and the right skillsets, perhaps Boston can finally raise Banner 18 sooner than later.