It was a tough weekend. Watching the Celtics lose was one of the most emotional sports experiences of my young life. It was one of the first times I’ve had to watch a team knowing it wont be back together, knowing that this was the end, but I’ve settled with it, found some solace in a great summer, and have moved on to next year.
Yes, this group of Celtics will never play together again, but no, every member of the big three won’t be gone. The key part to the offseason is signing Kevin Garnett to a one-year deal. He looked fresher than he has in years and proved he’s still an impossible matchup for big men in the NBA. Even more than that, signing KG signifies at least continuing the mentality of the big three. He’s the leader and if he comes back, Paul Pierce will stay. If KG goes, it’s anybody’s guess at to whether the Celtics’ offseason is a total overhaul. Signing Garnett gives Pierce a reason to hang around and retire as a Celtic, and gives the young core a chance to learn under the best competitors around. That young core features Rajon Rondo, who’s postseason has established him as a top ten NBA player. It’d be a relief if I could go through the offseason without having to hear about trades involving the point guard.
Assuming they keep Rondo and Avery Bradley, the Celtics have to sign Brandon Bass. Bass fits into the Celtics’ mentality perfectly, and he also proved he isn’t afraid of postseason pressure. Many fans forget, but the Celtics were missing Jeff Green, a key piece to their young puzzle that could’ve changed a season. Hopefully, his health is back in check after the heart surgery that ended his season and the C’s can sign Green. Adding Green and resigning Mickael Pietrus would give the Celtics two small forwards with the versatility to guard the inside-outside scorers that reign supreme in today’s game.
Depending on where the Celtics spend there money, singing big man Carl Landry could be a nice option to improve the size and rebounding problems the Celtics dealt with all year. That leaves Ray Allen…now things get tough. Allen is a free agent who still wants to play. He’ll have offseason surgery for his ankle and will be back next year. I’d love to see Allen back for one more year, with Bradley and Green at full health, taking on the younger contenders one more time, but I’m an idealist, and I’ve settled with what I know is true. Ray Allen won’t be back! It’s just too much to rely on a core with all three superstars and expect to beat the best the league has to offer. Allen can still score, but he struggles to guard the best competitors at his position. They’d compete, but without signing more youth, anything short of a title would mean a complete makeover with nothing in return.
It’s overwhelming to think about the things in your life you have to say goodbye to, whether it’s a pet or a professional sports team. The same feeling I had after game six is beginning to creep up on me again as I enter my senior year at Indiana University. Being done with something you love feels wilting, but just like college, I look back at the big three with fondness. I’ll remember Ray, composed and with the just right ratio of professionalism to swagger, strutting back on defense while he blew on his fingers because him and the whole gym knew something was on fire. I’ll remember that moment in a game where you thought, “Ray’s on,” and watched in awe as he hit contested three after contested three like he was alone on the court. I’ll remember him and KG on David Letterman after they won the finals smiling like kids, proud like champions. I’ll remember watching the Celtics’ infamous cluster screens, where Pierce, Allen and/or KG were grouped awkwardly close, a physical depiction of the bond between the three, ready for the shooter they chose to be open. I’ll remember how the Celtics didn’t just sign a big three, it wasn’t just superstars on the same team, it was a unified group. A true family. A movement in the spirit of the greatness of the Boston Celtics. I’ll remember the look in Doc Rivers eyes when the Heat pulled away from the Celtics in the final minutes of the game, not angry or frustrated, but sad. It was a feeling all Boston fans now know, and it’s worse than any irrational anger you’ll ever have because of bad luck or lazy play.
The Celtics will be back, and whoever is playing, you’re a fool if you think Doc Rivers is going to let his team sink to the bottom of the Eastern Conference, but if I never get to watch Ray, Kevin or Paul in a Celtic’s uniform again, I’ll remember growing up thinking I’d never get to see a great year of Boston basketball. Then ill remember just how great these years were, and how Boston owes these humble professionals a lifetime of gratitude