This is not something I expected to write back in 2013. We all knew it was time for the Celtics to break up the band when they did, but I’ll never forget drinking a $3 PBR at White Horse as I somberly watched the ESPN news of the trade light up the flat screens around the bar. I knew it was time, but it still sucked to see the best Celtics team of my lifetime finally break up.
Back in 2013 the Celtics were at the end of an era and it was clear. The Big 3 of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen had dominated from their first tipoff together, starting the 2007-08 season by going 27-2 on the way to an NBA Championship. They were always in the hunt for a title over the course of the next 5 seasons and were a ton of fun to watch as they morphed from the dominant top dog into the aging, wily veterans making one last stand.
Once that all came to an end though, Doc Rivers, who infamously said how he wanted to be a part of the Celtics rebuild, almost immediately changed his mind on being part of said rebuild. With 3 years and $21 million left on Doc’s contract he wanted out. So Danny Ainge made a deal with the Clippers to send Doc out west and got a first round pick in exchange.
Shitty move by Doc, but I don’t hold some massive grudge over it like a lot of fans still do. Doc wanted to leave for greener pastures (and more power) in LA so why pay a coach $7 million dollars a year on a lottery bound team? Doesn’t make sense.
Back then though the Clippers were the place to be with young studs like Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul to bring it all together. They looked like a team poised to do big things while the Celtics looked to be on the brink of a long, slow, and painful rebuild. Except four years later the Celtics are the reigning No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference with have the best young coach in the league in Brad Stevens, having recently added three All-Stars (Hayward, Horford, Irving), and picked up a couple of lottery picks to boot in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.
Meanwhile the Clippers are legitimately falling apart. Doc has been stripped of his role as President of Basketball Operations and is back to just writing “Coach” on his LinkedIn profile. Chris Paul is gone. DeAndre Jordan is suddenly 29 and Blake Griffin is now a 28 year old on bad knees who is aging in dog years.
Ask any executive in the NBA and I would bet the house that I don’t own that every single one of them would rather be the Celtics right now. Who the hell would have guessed that would be the case just 4 years ago? That would have been absurd to suggest, yet here we are.
The best part? The Celtics aren’t done. They still have a potential top 5 pick again next year with the Lakers pick and are only going to get better with Kyrie and Hayward on the team with the young guys continuing to develop.
I wonder if Doc looks back and says, welp I really fucked that one up. Not something I thought I would write just 4 years later from that Allston barstool.