(Ever wanted to see Kendrick Perkins fish? It’s everything you could have asked for and more.)
The reason Clifford Ray won’t return as Celtics assistant coach next year is simple; the Celtics didn’t ask him back. (Boston Globe)
However, Ray’s teaching days in Boston came to an end; he found out last month the Celtics weren’t bringing him back.
The Celtics’ decision was difficult for Ray to digest, but he refused to dwell on it.
“It’s just like any job,’’ he said. “You come to an end. You’re never going to stay someplace and coach forever, you know. So at some point or another there was going to come a point in time when I was no longer going to be a Celtic. No matter how it happened. When I went into basketball, I went into basketball to be a coach and a teacher.’’
This move comes as a surprise. I’ve never heard anybody, whether a member of the Celtics or not, say anything less than respectful about Ray. He’s always been considered one of the league’s best mentors, someone who’s earned respect from Dwight Howard to Kendrick Perkins to Chris Webber to Carlos Boozer to that dolphin he saved once upon a time. And now, just like THAT, he’s gone? Let go? It doesn’t make sense.
But it is what it is. And as much respect as Clifford Ray has earned over the years, I doubt it will be difficult to replace him. After all, Ray taught Perk for years and still couldn’t get him to keep the damn ball high. Ray taught Dwight Howard and Howard still doesn’t have a single legitimate post move. Ray taught Desagana Diop and, well, he was still Desagana Diop after the lessons. Ray taught Adonal Foyle and Foyle never exactly approached greatness. Ray taught Carlos Boozer and Chris Webber and, okay, he did a good job with those guys.
I don’t point out Ray’s list of proteges to demean his legacy. Not at all. I just always wondered why he was thought of so highly, when so many of his players still have very visible faults.
Oh well. Whether he deserved his lofty reputation or not, Clifford Ray seemed like one hell of a man. P.J. Brown said, “I can honestly say that he’s one of my dearest friends and he’s a person that I truly look up to and respect and admire. It’ll be a big loss for the NBA and the game of basketball losing Cliff. He’s one of those unsung heroes.” Brown’s not the only one singing Ray’s praises, either. I still haven’t heard a single person (besides me, in this post) utter a single bad word about Ray.
So live well, Coach. Enjoy life after basketball. But most of all, stay the same. From what I’ve heard, the world is a better place because it has Clifford Ray.
Just ask that dolphin.