You know what they say about pictures. We know what they're worth. And for Celtics fans, this photo might best encapsulate why Danny Ainge is willing to trade away Rajon Rondo for Chris Paul, and risk Paul playing no more than a year in Boston.
Doc Rivers, shortly after winning the Celtics 17th championship in franchise history, retreated to his office in the TD Garden. He lit a victory cigar, and posed for a photo next to a photo the patriarch of the organization, Red Auerbach.
The entire history of the franchise is caught in the photo of Red. We see the genius behind the dynasty, we see banner after banner, and we see the victory cigar, the history of which has risen to mythological proportions.
When a new player walks in, that player will walk into that history. If Chris Paul does indeed come to Boston, he will be greeted by Hall of Fame greats like Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Bob Cousy and Tommy Heinsohn. He will be ushered past 17 banner. He will be told story after story after story, from players past and present, that once you put on this uniform, you become part of a family. You become part of the legend.
And if you can bring a title? You're a God. You can do no wrong. And if you think you've seen adulation, you're sadly mistaken. Because that Garden crowd behind you night in and night out is a beast unlike you've ever experienced.
And with those words echoing in his head, Chris Paul would don a practice jersey, and hit the court with Doc Rivers.
Doc is the next weapon at Danny Ainge's disposal. Kevin Garnett would take a bullet for Doc Rivers. Paul Pierce was on the verge of being run out of town when he and Doc sat and talked… and developed a relationship that flourished. Player after player will vouch for Doc treating them all like men. They will tell you he is honest, even sometimes brutally so, but he will always tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. Doc commands respect, and in turn, he gives the players the respect they deserve as well.
The bottom line is, most players love playing for Doc Rivers. And they don't realize what kind of coach he really is until they are with him on a daily basis.
Players don't quite understand those things before they get here. But getting to Boston and experiencing it is an eye opening experience. At least… that's what Danny Ainge is banking on. Of course, he'll also have an extra $20 million to play with thanks to the new CBA. If he comes to Boston without an extension, opts out, and then re-signs with Boston, Ainge can use his Bird Rights to give him an extra year at max money. So that helps too.
These are powerful weapons at Danny's disposal. This is why he thinks he can keep Chris Paul despite him saying he wants nothing to do with Boston long-term. It's why he's willing to risk trading a great player in hopes of getting a greater one. And it's something not many other teams have to offer.
When you're in a situation like Boston is in now, you have to play every card you've got.