Celtics fans are drawn to Kevin Garnett’s fierce passion for basketball and for life, unblockable turnaround jumper, and innate ability to hedge the pick and roll. They adore Paul Pierce’s determined loyalty, knack for late-game heroics, and stepback jumper. (One dribble to the right, step back off the left foot, fade away, splash.) They idolize Rajon Rondo’s on-court creativity, one-of-a-kind talents, and never-ending sense of calm.
But Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca, the owners, the men who pay the contracts and make success possible? Who cares about them?
Not me, I’ll tell you. They aren’t players, obviously, and they don’t draft prospects or make trades either. That’s Danny Ainge’s job. Come to think of it, the owners don’t even care enough about winning to throw a towel skyward in hopes of distracting opposing teams. What kind of owners are they, anyway?
Sure, Wyc and Pags paid $14.9 million in luxury tax last year and are always cool with adding more salary. But how many jumpers did Wyc drain in last year’s playoffs?
In the past year the owners have okayed contracts of $55 million (Rajon Rondo), $60 million (Paul Pierce), $20 million (Ray Allen) and $12 million (Jermaine O’Neal). But how many dimes did Pags drop in the Eastern Conference Semifinals?
I know, I know, the Celtics will go way over the luxury tax threshold again this season, and the owners will have to pay another lump sum (somewhere around $9 million, if the season were to end today) to settle the tax. But where were Wyc and Pags last season when the Celtics needed some goddamn rebounds?
Wyc says he desperately wants to win a title. “We’re coming back after it,” he told the Boston Globe. “I am glad I got a championship ring, and I want another one.” But talk is cheap. I’ve never seen Wyc box out, and he’s never closed out to contest an open shooter. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen him dive on a loose ball either. Who wants an owner like that?
Before this offseason, there was talk that the Celtics might strip down and start a rebuilding process. But Wyc was too loyal to his players. “We live and die with this team,” he explained. That sense of loyalty is refreshing, I’ll admit that. But where was Wyc in the fourth quarter of The Game That Must Not Be Named, when the Celtics needed a big bucket?
Wyc’s happy with the team the Celtics have assembled for the 2010-11 season. “We got a bunch of butt-kickers on this team,’’ he said. “And a bunch of tough basketball players on this team.” He’s right. Just like the Western University Dolphins in Blue Chips (co-starring Shaq), the Celtics put together one of the best teams money can buy. They’re big, they’re bad (bad meaning good), they’re deep, and they’re scrappy. But Wyc’s no seven-footer. He’s not quick and he doesn’t have a handle that will wow you. And I’ve never seen him wrestle a rebound from somebody else’s grasp.
So why do we appreciate these owners? Well, at least they don’t turn the damn ball over.
The quotes in this post are from a piece in today’s Boston Globe. It’s a good read.