Doc Rivers has, from time to time, shown he’s not entirely fond of last year’s Celtics team. He’ll tell you flat out that last year’s team was more talented than this one, but this one actually plays together.
In a conference call today, less than a day removed from a tough, gritty win to even up the Eastern Conference Finals at two games each, he brought it up again.
“I look at this year’s team and last year’s team and last year’s team we would have been out of the playoffs already. We just weren’t the same. We weren’t a team. This team is very close, they’re very competitive. I think they understand Rondo is the leader of this team, everyone else plays with Rondo. Kevin is still a great player. Paul is still our best scorer. They’ve kind of gotten out of each others’ way with roles. Then I think all the new guy have added a great competitive energy to our basketball team.”
Last year’s team featured guys like Delonte West, Shaquille O’Neal, and Nate Robinson. Talented players, sure, but drama constantly surrounded them (self imposed or otherwise). I’m not sure some of the more serious guys on the team liked the way everything was happening.
Us? We loved it. We loved the videos and the crazy antics. But that wears thin after a while. There’s fun, and then there’s over the top.
The second part of Doc’s quote, where the guys have all fallen in line behind Rondo, is also interesting. I know Doc speaks of it like the transition is done, but I think we’re still in the middle of it. Or maybe past the middle of it. Maybe the transition will be complete at the beginning of next season when other guys take bigger roles. But I see where Doc is going with it.
Interpretations aside, it’s pretty clear: Doc loves this year’s team and he doesn’t really like last year’s. Maybe in an overly honest moment, someone can get some names and/or examples as to why that is. But that’s what it is.