ESPN will air a documentary on the fall of the Boston Celtics listing 5 reasons besides the death of Len Bias. Admittedly, the death of Len Bias probably cost us at least two more championships. I think the next 7 1st rounders we drafted were all lemons (except Reggie Lewis of course and Dee Brown) and the draft picks right before Len Bias did not make the grade, although, it is tough to beat out Bird, Parish, McHale, DJ, and Ainge for a starting spot. Then you had Cedric Maxwell, Jerry Sichting, Bill Walton, and Scott Wedmen for role players. Rick Carlisle, Greg Kite, and Connor Henry rounded out your roster.
Bird's back was giving out on him and quite frankly in reading his book, I don't understand how he made it through 1992. McHale's wheels were going bad and he retired 1 year later after Alonzo Mourning hit that 20 foot miracle shot in Charlotte which also turned out to be Reggie Lewis's last game in 1993. Parish's contract expired in 1994 as the Celtics missed the playoffs and Dino Radja took over. We drafted the likes of Acie Earl and Eric Montross when Eddie Jones was available. Gaston listened to ML Carr instead of Larry Bird. Dave Gavitt was fired. Probably the best coaching job of the past 20 years for the Celtics belonged to Chris Ford for leading a motley 36 win crew of Sherman Douglass, Dee Brown, Outta Service Ellison, Rick Fox, Dominique Wilkens, and Dino Radja to an eighth seed and a pairing with Shaq and Penny's Orlando Magic. It turned out to be Boston Garden's last stand as the Celtics went down 3-1 fighting tooth and nail until Sherman Douglass' desparation 3 to tie the game fell short.
The summer of 95 proved to be the worst in Celtics history. Chris Ford was fired and ML Carr took over as coach and GM. Gaston decided it was time to cut budget and let Sherman Douglass go in favor of Todd Day. Greg Minor was brought in. Eric Williams was drafted. In reality, the mid 90's proved to be disasterous for bringing in college talent. Team ball turned over to imitating Jordan dunks. Other less talented teams tried to imitate Detroit's rough defensive style good for two titles. (Those titles would likely have been Boston's had Len Bias been playing). Glen Wesley was a lone bright spot.
We got the 6th pick in the draft and got a precocious kid, Antione Walker (It was concluded a few years later that Walker was trying to get away from Pitino at Kentucky). The Celtics bottomed out at 15-67 that year with a 40% chance of getting Tim Duncan. That is why Pitino took the job to coach Boston. We got the 3rd and 6th picks instead and took Chauncey Billups and Ron Mercer. The fullcourt press was on and we shocked the Bulls on opening night of the Pitino era. But Ricky made the 1st of his trade blunders - Chauncey Billups for Kenny Anderson. I think this trade set the tone for the quick fix deals to get the Celtics back to the playoffs and make Gaston some money. The next year, Paul Pierce fell into our laps at #9. Then the NBA lockout happened and the Celtics came to camp out of shape and unresponsive and blundered there way to a 18 and 32 campaign in 1999.
Walker got his fat contract and a hard head and evidently clashed with Pitino. In fact Pitino clashed with everyone and finally in January 2001, Pitino resigned and left the team in Miami. Everyone on the messageboards was calling for Pitino's head. Jim O'Brien took over and the Celtics managed to put together some road wins including a memorable game in Portland. But the Celtics simply did not have the talent to make the playoffs and were left with a 10th, a 13th, and a 21st pick in the 2001 draft. 10th pick was Joe Johnson, 13th was Kedrick Brown (a JVCC kid who could jump high) (Zach Randolph was on the board), and the infamous Joe Forte over Tony Parker pick (Chris Wallace later justified that one on public radio by saying "Well, Quin, we don't use a PG in our system and we traded Forte for financial reasons). Joe Johnson, Milt Palacio, and a couple of other pawn scum were traded for Rodney Rogers and Tony Delk and away we went to the 2002 playoffs. We beat Philly in 5 as Pierce went crazy in game 5 and also beat Detriot in 5 games to set up a showdown with K-Mart, Kidd, Richard Jefferson, 2 reliable centers. Finally after 6 games, Pierce and Walker were sent home. There was no way the Celtics could beat the Lakers.
2002 was memorable in that we would not sign Rodney Rogers and we traded for Vin Baker and his albatross contact for about half our team. Somehow we made it back to the second round of the playoffs only to see Walker completely embarrass himself against Kenyon Martin and the Nets.
Good news was that Gaston sold the team to Wyc Grousebeck and company and Danny Ainge was hired to rebuild the Celtics again. We have accumulated a lot of young talent so I think the seeds have a chance of sprouting into some beautiful basketball. There were some mistakes Ainge made like hiring Ainge and signing Blount and Scalabrine. He needs to be careful of trading talent to get Big Names like Iverson that may bring us a few playoff series wins in 2007 to 2009 but will not accomplish the ultimate goal. For this reason, I am not in favor of trading for Alan Iverson.
Good article Q... We have definitely had our share of problems in the past and things that were completely out of anyone's control. I agree with you in that I don't want to bring in Iverson and defintely don't want to trade any of our young talent to do so...