Who knew one lottery five years ago would produce this?

Am I a conspiracy theorist? Somewhat, it’s in my blood as a skeptic. Certain instances in life need some sort of implausible chain of events that only make sense to those who put aluminum foil around their fitted caps. I believe in karma, fate and al of those destiny themes you find in books and none of them ring more true than in sports.

You see, if everything goes “according to plan” tonight in Boston, then the realization of a five year storyline will be complete. The NBA already has had enough drama in this wacky shortened season and if LeBron & company take Pier 14 on their way to South Beach tonight, that drama will increase tenfold. Yet, if we look back to 2007 and the Draft Lottery, then you would know that we got here at just about the right time.

Back then, the Celtics were definitely not the C’s of today, hell not even the C’s of five years prior when they went to the Eastern Conference Finals. They had sunk all the way to having the 3rd worst record in the league and had believed to have tanked the rest of the way to have a better shot in the upcoming draft lottery. Sitting in New York that night with all of his wistful luck was Danny Ainge, who pretty much had played all of his cards wanting to possibly land in the top two slots.

Much like Anthony Davis this year, the top prize in the draft was deemed “can’t miss” and all of that jazz. Only difference was that there were two of them. Greg Oden still had two able legs and a resume from leading Ohio State to the NCAA title game in his freshman season. Kevin Durant was the electric scorer who Rick Barnes tabbed as the Player of the Year before the season even started and was right. Brandon Roy, the rookie of the year for the Trailblazers in 06-07 was quoted as saying, “Either one, you can’t go wrong,” when speaking about Oden & Durant that night (boy did the cosmos rob him too or what?).

So there you’re three major participants: Durant, Oden & Danny Ainge. As the ping pong balls would have it, the Celtics wound up dropping to five prompting Bill Simmons to throw dirt on the entire team and the future of the team itself. That night, I’m pretty sure the scenario went like this in Danny Ainge’s mind.

If Danny only knew...

AINGE: No Oden, no Durant? You’re saying the best I can possibly come up with is Yi? He only posts up chairs, how in the hell can I explain that to a fan base who OPENLY wanted us to lose to get either of those two guys?

VOICE ON THE OTHER END: Don’t worry, wait until after the Finals. LeBron’s leading that putrid Cavs team to the Finals. I doubt he could Superman over the Spurs.

AINGE: Wait, you mean if I keep this up for another three years I could get LeBron in green?

VOICE ON THE OTHER END: Danny, how many drinks have you had tonight?

AINGE: What was Bird’s number?

VOICE ON THE OTHER END: You’re drinking milk, aren’t you?

AINGE: I’m still thinking of a way to trade my PG of the future. He’s introverted as hell man and that jumper? Good grief, it’s like a love child of Shawn Marion.

And so the conversation went until after June, when the picks in the draft had to be made. As expected, Oden went over Durant to Portland and the Sonics, engulfed in a tug-o-war with the city for an arena and ownership wanting to pack up and move selected Kevin Durant. We’re not even going to get into the Sonics part of this story because the weight would be too much to bear. Plus, I think last night had more R.E.M. “Everybody Hurts” moments for anyone still rocking Supersonics gear.

On draft night, Ainge pulls a deal to somewhat make Celtics fans “happy”. A draft day swing to get Ray Allen to Boston on draft night for Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak & the #5 pick. Not even ten minutes after the trade’s announced, Seattle gets Kevin Durant. Boston takes Jeff Green for Seattle at #5. Also, victim #2 of all of this is Green who suffered a heart ailment during the lockout and had to undergo heart surgery and put him out for the year … making the way for Brandon Bass. Jeff Green has more “Six Degrees Of Separation” moments about him right now, it probably is KILLING him on the inside.

Meanwhile, Danny Ainge gets call once again from that Voice On The Other End and then the biggest move of 2007 turns into the biggest move of 2012. On that fateful day in July, the Celtics trade away their young gun in Al Jefferson and more to Minnesota for Kevin Garnett. That voice? Kevin McHale.

McHale pulled the trigger and gave KG what he had wanted since the Lakers booted the Wolves out of the 2004 WCFs, a chance. By then, we know what happened in 2008 with the new Big 3 and Young Rajon Rondo leading the Celitcs over the league and to the title. Ironically, they wind up playing a 7 game series with the Cavs, who had come off a run to the Finals. In 2008, LeBron James was given the idea to form the Big Three in Miami.

By Kevin Garnett.

Garnett had spent a decade and two pennies in ‘Sota, picking up an MVP award and moving into possible all-timer discussion along the way. He barked, not as loudly as he does now but he definitely was foul mouthed and in your face for 48 minutes. Giving an idea to James to take his worth and make your money elsewhere, who at 24-25 was just easing into his status as the league’s most dominating (and soon to be polarizing) player like that was dangerous especially if things didn’t pan out in Cleveland following the ’08 East Semis.

A Garnett injury robbed the C’s of a title in 2009 (I’m certain of this) and the C’s inexplicably crushed all of Cleveland in Game 5 and just did a little CSI work to determine how they did it in Game 6 in 2010. Had Perk not gotten injured the C’s would have taken THAT title against the Lakers (and the hate mail I got that day proves it). It also paves the way for LeBron to take KG’s advice and head to the worst possible location for him basketball wise (Chicago would have been better with he & Rose plus Noah hogging the rebounding lane and a solid bench, New York would have been the legacy fit) mainly because, who are we exactly to judge a 25 year old man who has pulled a shaky franchise out of the depths of Ricky Davis faux triple doubles out and then realize “This isn’ it for me?”

Meanwhile in Seattle two years prior, Kevin Durant is winning the league ROY honors and then his team packs up and moves to OKC. Part Stern cronyism due to the fact OKC absolutely loved having a basketball team in 2005 for 41 games and part just bad business forced that and Durant wound up getting a slight basket case of a PG in Russell Westbrook. Kevin Love was there for the taking too but realizing that Westbrook made more sense for OKC’s young small forward than Love who essentially is a beefed up version of Durant without the same Plastic Man athleticism, it made sense in the long run. A year after that, the Zombie Sonics complete the move to OKC by facing the Lakers in the first round with a new rookie on the squad in James Harden who went #3 in 2009.

If you’re scoring at home kids the Sonics/Zombie Sonics/Thunder had the #2, #4 & #3 picks in three consecutive drafts. And they all panned out thanks to Sam Presti.

Since the Celtics have a penchant for doing these sort of things in even numbered years, do you know how hard Ainge has been threatening to blow this team up? The same team who looked dead in the water at the All-Star break only to catch every cosmic break (Rose’s ACL is cosmic sadly) and be rejuvenated to the point where KG is dropping cash money quotes almost every game? They have arguably the most cerebral (and sometimes surly because mainly he’s wired to play basketball) PG in the league in Rajon Rondo (who’s now evolved from Young Rajon Rondo, to #Rondo) and three other guys (plus glue guys off the bench) who give a shit about playing together and doing it because it’s the farewell tour of the Boston Big Three.

If not for injury, this team could have won three rings and on their way to a fourth. A three-year plan could have yielded more rings than the Bird/McHale/Parrish Big Three era and it wound up stretching to a five-year plan thanks to everybody being cranky and playing out of their minds. Last night, the Thunder with their nucleus of top draft picks three years running put the kibosh on a Spurs team that was pretty much the greatest Euro Team ever assembled (aka Hoosiers on steroids, HGH & whatever’s in the water at the Riverwalk) for a trip to the Finals.

Where they might me the Boston Celtics.

Who says the lottery doesn’t do interesting things?

4 Responses

  1. roshan bhatt

    you fucked the game up with this one. great read as always, brother. 

    Reply
  2. Cell©

    Great write up dude.
    These last few season have been extremely hard for C’s fans. Doc said a few years ago, “when you lose someone to injury, you gotta put it out of your mind, because teams will beat you and celebrate like you were healthy.” That was what I saw when we lost KG and Orlando celebrated, we lost Perk and Lakers celebrated, and when we lost Rondo and Miami celebrated. For a team that relied on each unique player to play their role for the team to be successful, losing one of their starters was like losing a limb for real. A lot of the Celtics mental toughness that they have right now is due to all the loses that they’ve had to play through, this season and seasons past.

    And the Kendrick Perkins trade last year was the final puzzle piece needed to be filled for the Thunder dynasty that is brewing.

    Good read.

    Reply

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