NBA.com’s Shaun Powell raises a question that will continue to be thrown out there if the C’s continue their slide:
A few years ago, the Celtics revamped their team for a championship run by assembling three pricey players. Now that it appears their “run” will amount to a single title, was their $175 million-plus investment worth it?
Meaning: How much would you (and should you) pay for a championship? No question, the 2008 title restored faith in the franchise, raised a 17th title banner in Boston, sold plenty of season tickets, rekindled memories of Red Auerbach’s cigar and the Larry Bird era and added another chapter to the Celtics’ rich history. The Celtics “brand” received a boost, and that’s something you really can’t put a price on.
Still, the Celtics paid dearly for that small taste of the good life. The championship did not spawn a lengthy stretch of prosperity. They’re aging faster than a father with teenaged daughters.
So was it worth it, even if the Celtics are falling apart like they’ve appeared to be for large portions of the season?
In a word, yes.
In another word, abso – f**king – lutely.
The Celtics won a title, ladies and gentlemen. In the NBA, those are usually few and far between. Just ask Knicks fans or Timberwolves fans. To us Celtics fans, the title run wasn’t about rekindling memories, it was about making them. And it damn sure wasn’t about selling tickets. No matter what the cost to Steve Pagliuca and Wyc Grousbeck, winning the title was worth it.
Plus, look at the alternative:
The Celtics keep Al Jefferson and their #5 draft pick, select Yi Jianlian (who was reportedly Ainge’s choice if he kept the pick), and hold onto the young “building blocks” for the future (Gerald Green and Bassy Telfair, I’m looking at you). They roll out a lineup of a Paul Pierce (disgruntled), Ryan Gomes (solid, nowhere near as good as most Celtics fans would have you think), Al Jefferson (who would soon get an injury and pick up a DWI), and Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins (who wouldn’t have matured nearly as quickly without both the tutelage of KG and Ray-Ray and the intensity of playoff basketball). Tony Allen, Telfair, Delonte West and Yi are the first four men off the bench. The C’s fight for a playoff berth, finish just out of the playoffs, and draft someone like Brandon Rush with their late-lottery pick.
The next year, they again flounder but remain close to the playoffs, and pick up someone like Earl Clark in the draft. They don’t have a lot of salary, and Paul Pierce gets traded away to clear even more salary space. But with an inconsistent Rajon Rondo (remember, he wouldn’t have advanced nearly as quickly) and an injury-prone Al Jefferson as the team’s top draws for free agents, plus the city of Boston still not a prime target for anyone, the Celtics lose out on the top stars of the 2010 Free Agent Class. They settle for overpaying Joe Johnson or Rudy Gay, players who will never win titles as the main guy, and begin another run of mediocrity.
Granted, that’s just one hypothetical. But doesn’t the present sound a whole lot better than that? Winning a title, then clinging to hopes of another, is far better than hoping all the cards fall into place for the future.