There was a time when our Boston Celtics ruled the NBA, and on many levels. We had the best players, and we won more than any other professional sports team ever. Eleven championships in 13 seasons, all courtesy of one Mr. Bill Russell, arguably the greatest winner in the history of North American sports.
Russell’s dominance created an aura, the Celtic Mystique, and with Red Auerbach continuing to make the personnel moves, the Celtics won two more titles in the 70s and three more in the 80s.
And then Len Bias died. And Reggie Lewis died. And the Celtics plunged into a black hole.
The 2008 NBA Championship changed all of that – it created a New Big Three and a new reason to feel good about our future.
But it also created copycat Big Threes – the Big Three of the Heat, and, potentially, the Big Three of the Lakers – with Kobe, Nash and Dwight leading the way.
And something else happened – the mystique of playing for the Celtics no longer carries the cache that it once did. The thought of playing underneath all those championship banners now seems antiquated, and out of touch…so thirty seconds ago.
Today’s top players want to play in South Beach, or close to Hollywood, or for a Digital Age owner like Mark Cuban. They want more than old school glory – they want hip, and suddenly our Celtics seem out of step with hip. Our GM, Danny Ainge, is one of the best in the biz, and our team is located in a big market with a lot to offer. But the weather is cold, there aren’t any real beaches to speak of – at least not the kind with scantily clad girls walking the streets in bikinis. Massachusetts has a state income tax, and Florida doesn’t. LA has its A-List crowd, and all of the glitz and glamour that goes along with it.
Which now begs the question – which NBA teams are truly the ‘It’ teams at the moment? I see only two – the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers. They have everything to attract the best talent via free agency, and they have the management in place to leverage the appeal of the regions in which they play.
Simply put, the Heat and the Lakers have achieved NBA Tier One status – the best of the best.
Our Celtics? Sadly, it seems we have been downgraded to a Tier Two team – that next band of teams that are well run, have plenty to offer, are competitive….but just don’t have the built-in coolness that the teams in the penthouse have – the hated Lakers and Heat.
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