This is legitimately the most excited I've ever been about the future of this team. The position we are in is incredible. I was genuinely thrilled we didn't make a short-sighted deadline deal or give up major assets for a non-Superstar. I already explained my thoughts on this in detail in my "Trust the Process"
post a couple days ago.
It's not hyperbole. I've been waiting 20 years for this team to be in this position. If you'll humor me, I just want to follow up that post by talking about my experience as a Celtic fan following this team over the years. I've shared some of this before.
I'm in my early 30s. I haven't lived in New England since I was a kid in the late 80s. I was too young to really appreciate the Bird era. I come from a family of Celtic fans and I grew up worshiping the team. I moved out of state when I was a kid so there was a pre-internet dark period in the early 90s where it was really difficult to follow the team.
Go back almost exactly 20 years to 1997. A franchise-changing talent, Tim Duncan, is on the verge of entering the NBA Draft. Boston was in full-blown tank mode. Coincidentally, this was also about the time we got our first computer and an internet connection. That was a game-changer, because it allowed me to follow the team's box scores daily, stream the games live via internet Radio, and connect with other Celtic fans (there were zero at my school in Seattle).
The team was making headlines for the first time since Bird retired by hiring Rick Pitino. There was hope on the horizon. We all know that lottery was a disappointment. Duncan lived up to his billing by winning 5 titles and forming a multi-decade dynasty in San Antonio. That period of time deeply embedded this simple concept that's influenced my perception of this team for the past 20 years. Superstars win titles in the NBA. While a top pick doesn't guarantee a star, the vast majority of Superstars are taken at the top of the NBA draft. Your best chance at getting one of those guys - is picking at the top of the draft.
Just look at the list of players who have made All-NBA teams recently. While there are exceptions, almost all of them were taken with top 7 picks. Look at the long list of MVP winners - Bird, Magic, Jordan, Shaq, Duncan, LeBron, etc - with rare exceptions, almost all of them are taken with top 7 picks. If you can't sign one via free agency or trade for one - the draft is your best hope.
Despite the failed lotto, I immediately bought into the Billups/Mercer/Walker young trio. On opening night we managed to beat the defending champion 72 win Chicago Bulls. Pitino was a genius! I was a naive kid who didn't understand the game very well, but man I was convinced we were on the verge of something special. It's been hard to ever really replicate the level of hype I had for Boston's future during that early Pitino era.
I was legitimately angry when we traded Billups mid-way through that season for 27 year old Kenny Anderson. We coincidentally had tickets to see Kenny's debut game for the Celtics in Seattle vs the Sonics. I still have that ticket stub and game program. Kenny dropped 19 points in that game. I wasn't thrilled with giving up Billups, but I got over it pretty quickly. Kenny was only a couple years removed from making an all-star team and had averaged 17.5 points, 7.1 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 2 steals the year prior. At least we got a star.
I loved Paul Pierce immediately. Watched his debut game at a Sports bar in Seattle with my dad. 19 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 blocks and 2 steals. He became my favorite player of the modern generation. There were times where I thought he might end up a Top 5 player in the league, but he never totally got there. He never made an All-NBA 1st team. He fell short of ever becoming a Superstar.
The Walker/Pierce/O'Brien years were fun, but those teams never cracked 50 wins and it was clear their style of 2-man chucking would never truly contend. Free agency was never an option, because the team was perpetually over the cap. Trade options were minimal, because Walker was overrated and the rest of our assets were worthless. I found this period frustrating, because we were clearly a treadmill team stuck in perpetual mediocrity with little hope of ever landing a true superstar to match with the Shaqs and Duncans of the world, because we were consistently picking outside of the "money zone" of the 1-7 range.
There were several points of the early Ainge period where I was in favor of trading away my favorite player. Clearly Ainge was as well, as he reportedly came close to trading away Pierce in 2005 for Portland's #3 pick he intended to use on Chris Paul. Blowing it up and starting over seemed like the best move. Unfortunately/fortunately, Pierce killed the deal.
I was all-in on the tankjob in 2007. A decade after the first failed tankjob. But the hope of landing Oden or Durant was thrilling. We already had some decent young guys like Big Al, Delonte, Green and Rondo. It was the most excited I'd been about the future of the Celtics since 1997. The lotto was a heart-breaker. Out of context, the Ray Allen trade was the most depressed/angry I'd ever been as a Celtic fan. Ainge followed it up by adding an aging superstar (the first Superstar the Celtics had had since Bird) and opening a 3-4 year title window.
2008 made everything worth it. What a glorious year. That was special. So glad we kept Pierce. So glad we traded for Ray. KG was the savior. Shame they were all getting old.
The 2012-13 Celtic season was by far
my least favorite following this team. It had been clear for a while our days of contending were over. Pretty much since Shaq's last game on April 4th 2011, it was clear this was a flawed aging team that was past the point of being a legitimate title threat. Yes, the 2012 playoffs were a final victory lap for a post-contending former champion - taking the eventual Champs to 7 games in the Eastern Conference Finals. A path paved in part by an ideal-scenario schedule (Horford-less Hawks in round 1, the 8th seed team in Round 2 taking us to 7 games, A Bosh-less Heat for half the ECF series), but at the end of the day this was a team that had won 39 games (48 win pace in a lockout shortened season). It was great to see them gut it out and give it their all, but this team was cooked. Ray saw the writing on the wall and bailed. Now here we were a year later in 2012-13 struggling to stay above .500. I had wanted the team to blow it up since 2011. We had waited WAAAY too long to move Pierce and KG. Our "assets" had lost any real trade value. We didn't have a single prospect with legitimate star potential outside of MAYBE Avery Bradley. Hated that season. Just hated it.
Ainge pulled off a miracle trade with Brooklyn in the offseason. Even if they had ended up getting late 1sts - it was a miracle. He was two years late on moving those guys and somehow got a haul. Now the team was set up brilliantly to tank in a draft many said was 8 potential stars deep. Hope for the future renewed. Could this be the year we finally got a star? Marcus Smart was the prize. I still think he can get there.
And now here we are in 2017. While it pales in comparison to the in-the-moment thrill of following the 2008 team, this is legitimately the most hyped I've ever been for the future of the Celtics. In the present, we're a solid 50+ win team that may finish Top 5 in the league. We have one of the most exciting players in the entire league to root for nightly. We have MULTIPLE young players on this team I believe legitimately could develop into stars. And above all else (barring a huge run by Brooklyn), we once again have a crack at the top of a loaded draft many are calling the best in years. Several potential all-stars to be had. Plus potentially another crack at a star again in 2018. Plus maybe another with that Memphis pick. Oh, plus we are legitimately one of the major free agent destinations in the league and have cap space to potentially sign a star this Summer. Plus, multiple all-stars on the trade market and endless assets to use in a blockbuster if we feel so inclined. We have EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING I ever wanted to see from a building team. 50+ win team? Check. MVP candidate? Check. Cap space? Check. Free agent destination? Check. Legitimate chance at a superstar prospects? CHECK. Option of acquiring all-stars via trade? CHECK!
This Summer is a pivotal moment in Celtic history. One that could genuinely set up the groundwork for a short-term contender or a long-term dynasty.
No, we aren't a champion right now. No, we don't have a 30 year old superstar to carry us for a window. But in looking back at 2008, the best part (for me) was seeing the culmination of Pierce's journey. Saw him get drafted. Saw him blossom into an all-star. Saw him win a title. The most fun I ever have following this team is watching young prospects blossom into stars and become a part of this team's legacy. I don't know how good Jaylen and Smart will become. I don't know if we'll keep the picks or if they'll become busts. But man, I'm so freakin excited to see what happens. This is awesome. This is really awesome. I love Danny Ainge as much as any man can love a sports figure he's never met.
This is post #20,000 for me. In what will likely be seen as extremely welcome news to many folks on this forum, I'd like to officially announce the retirement of LarBrd33 from CelticsBlog effective immediately.
The 20,000th dinger seems about as good a time as any to say goodbye.
When I first joined the internet back in 1997, having the ability to talk about my favorite team with fellow Celtic fans was a real joy. I spent a lot of time on basketball bulletin boards back in the day sharing and collecting photos of my favorite players. That evolved into posting on some early-internet Celtic forums that no longer exist. I used to live-chat with NBA fans via mIRC chatroom channels. At some point I moved on to ESPN's team message boards, and then eventually abandoning it in favor of splitting my time between RealGM and CelticsBlog's forums sometime around 2005.
Up until recently, this had been my primary venue for discussing the team. Over 5 posts per day for about 12 years. For over a decade, this had been the first website I checked every morning. I've really enjoyed sharing thoughts, whining about the state of the team, celebrating victories, and debating with fellow fans over the years. I've logged untold hours sitting on my toilet talking hoops here. It's been a blast. I've made friends here that I'll probably chat with privately about the Celtics for the rest of my life. I don't really know Jeff well, but I want to thank him for creating this site and setting up this forum. Being a remote Celtic fan, being able to communicate with other fans really has made it feel like I'm part of the Boston Celtics sports culture and this place has been a big part of that. I've had so much fun here... perhaps sometimes at the expense of my fellow fans.
I think I probably managed to contribute here in relative anonymity for a large chunk of my time posting on CelticsBlog. I really hope someone stumbles on this post, comes to this part, and says "who the heck is this guy?"... but it's no secret that I've irked a great many people in recent years on this forum and many people are very aware of LarBrd33 as an individual - which has honestly been a little embarrassing. I get mentioned in threads I am not even participating in. It was never my goal to be an infamous member of an obscure internet forum. Quite a few people have actively campaigned to have me banned. I've taken on a lot of labels... hater, troll, idiot, pessimist, reverse-jinxer, contrarian, etc. Some are probably accurate... especially the part about me being an idiot.
For what it's worth, I realize I've been extremely annoying at times (this post included). I realize too often posts became about me (this post included). And I also realize there's a whole lot of "controversial" opinions I've had over the years that have rightfully earned me some of these labels. So I figure I might as well just go through the list and acknowledge some of the many ways I can remember upsetting folks on this forum over the years.I Didn't believe in Gerald Green:
My first avatar on this forum was actually one making fun of Gerald Green. Some thought he was a future superstar. I didn't see it. Sorry Gerald.I wanted to trade Paul Pierce:
It's true. He was my favorite player, but I wanted to blow up the team and build around picks and prospects. The team was way over the cap and lacked trade assets. This seemed like the best option. I was super in favor of a potential Chicago trade that never came to be. I guess Ainge agreed with me, because he almost successfully traded Paul to Portland for the #3 pick. So glad we kept him.Reverse-jinxing the playoffs:
I kind of gained a reputation as a negative nancy during several playoff runs. I'd often comment we were doomed. Some people eventually caught on it was blatant reverse-jinxing. Eventually, I felt obligated to keep it up because the team kept winning in spite of my naysaying. I thought Glen Davis sucked:
I spent years referring to him as Obese Davis. People didn't like that. That dude's a bum... whatever.I thought Rondo was overrated:
For about two years I battled with a specific Celticsblogger about Rajon Rondo. I loved Rondo, but he wasn't on Chris Paul's level. There was evidence the team was better without him. His performance in Dallas kinda vindicated me. Now articles have been written
echoing everything I was saying around 2012. I lead the tank bandwagon in 2014:
I built that wagon with my bare hands. By the end of the season, everyone was with me. I still say it's worth it. Marcus Smart has been a joy to watch. I didn't believe in Avery Bradley:
I was wrong about Avery. I didn't think he had the size to ever be a starting shooting guard. Now he's possibly my favorite player on the entire team. I love Avery.Reverse-Jinxing the 2016 Nets Pick:
I mean, really... I didn't want to get my hopes up. They had made the playoffs for three straight years. Fans were too confident. They were chanting "Brooklyn Draft Pick" at games. It seemed like bad basketball god karma. No regrets here. Jaylen Brown might end up a star. And on that note, I fully expect Brooklyn to win their final 25 games of the season, play themselves out of the bottom 3, and sign a bunch of superstars in the Summer. I didn't love our "young guys":
I think this one is unfair. I may have been dismissive about some guys like Gerald, Glen Davis, Fab Melo, Sully, etc... but I was also totally gung-ho about Big Al, lead the tank bandwagon for Marcus Smart based on the idea he was one of the 8 potential all-stars in the draft, wrote several posts praising Olynyk's shooting, and immediately embraced the Jaylen Brown pick. I didn't hate all the young guys. I was wrong a couple times (namely, with Avery Bradley), but honestly this team hasn't drafted a player who went on to make an all-star team with Boston since... Paul Pierce, maybe? (Rondo wasn't drafted by Boston)... It's not like I've dismissed a bunch of hall of fame prospects. I'm super excited about these upcoming picks, though. Genuinely excited. FWIW, I will half apologize for publicly questioning if Anthony Bennett or Nik Stauskas could end up better player than the guy we were going to take with the #16 pick in 2015. We ended up taking Rozier. He's definitely better than at least one of those two guys. The Bellevue Leprechauns:
In the fantasy bball CelticsBlog Points League, I drove about 20 members of this forum crazy with endless trade requests, non-stop press releases, intentionally manipulative mindgames and ridiculously overzealous gamesmanship that's now been well-documented in the multi-media extravaganza read by over 50,000 people on Reddit after being nominated for "best-of" and spending an entire day on the front page of the internet.
Look, those guys have a right to be mad at me for outright dominating them for two years and turning it into the most famous fantasy basketball story ever told at their expense, but at the same time... it was kinda funny. I said healthy Jrue Holiday was better than Thomas:
Surprised this one doesn't get brought up more often. Last year I made the declaration that a healthy Jrue Holiday was better than Isaiah Thomas. While we might not be seeing a "fully healthy" Jrue right now, and 16 points, 7.4 assists, 4.1 rebounds with 46% FG and 37% three point shooting with solid defense is nothing to sneeze at - it's pretty clear Thomas is better. My bad. Devil's Advocate for Philly:
Saving the best for last. Did this get out of hand? Maybe. This forum has a fixation on the 76ers. If you go back and look at the Philly posts you'll find that 1 out of every 150 is started by LarBrd33. There's almost always at least two active Philly threads at any given time and I was was never the one creating them. I disagreed with the consensus here and was always willing to share my unpopular opinions when these threads were started. I have barely posted about Philly for the past few months and yet the Philly talk is still full-steam ahead. People REALLY hate them and love celebrating their failures. I gave my final thoughts on Philly in this post a few days ago
. In short, I still think it was a worthwhile venture and may prove successful. If it doesn't, that's great for Boston, because I see them as our main rival in the post Golden State Globetrotter NBA. The irony of labeling me a 76er fan is that there's literally a unabashed open Philly fan who posts with regularity on this forum by the name of Randy. I'm sure he'll be happy to volley back the Philly hate to you guys in my absence.
So yeah... those were the main ones I could remember. For the most part, I was under the impression that even if I was often acting as a foil to consensus opinion, I was contributing to the discussion. Disagreement was the fuel that seemed to drive this forum. 2008 was likely the most boring this forum ever got, because everyone just kinda sat around agreeing that the team was really good. And throughout the tomfoolery, I don't think I ever personally insulted any member of this forum.
But I do get that I sometimes went too far and rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. I know there were multiple members here who publicly wanted me removed from the forum. I want to thank the moderation team for being pretty fair to me during this while I almost certainly was contributing to their unwanted headaches moderating a silly sports messageboard. As Celtic discussion here has somewhat degraded recently, my hope is that there might be some members of this forum who were possibly avoiding the forum in-part because of my many posts. Maybe those folks will return in my absense and make some strong contributions. Maybe, just maybe, one or two long-lost members will post in this very thread celebrating my departure. If some do come out of hiding, I look forward to possibly reading their future contributions as a lurker.
So yeah, that was a long self-gratifying post that will likely annoy all the folks who were already annoyed with me. This post was about 5x longer than I wanted it to be and I probably went off the rails a couple times, but I mean... I think I'm only the lucky 13th Celticsblog member to crack 20,000 poss at this legendary forum so far... and it's clear a lot of people here are familiar with me (I keep getting PM's asking why I'm not posting more)... and a part of me will miss chatting with you guys. I've loved my time posting here. I thank you all for humoring me over the past 12 years. I wish you all the best heading forward. My final Tommy Point will go to the first person to comment "Good riddance". It's been a long time coming.
If you need me, I'll be learning the sport of baseball trying to crack the comment thread rotation on the Seattle Mariners' "LookoutLanding.com" blog. Thanks for the memories, fellas. Enjoy following what very well may develop into the next great NBA dynasty. I'm pumped! Go Celtics!!TL;DR: So Long, and Thanks for All the Tommy Points.