Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Another point was made clear last night: These guys didn’t just play for the Celtics; they are Celtics. Just as Derek Jeter is a Yankee, just as Joe Montana is a 49er, you need to know that Paul Pierce is a Celtic and Kevin Garnett is a Celtic.
And please, no talk about how Garnett played only six seasons with the Celtics — and this after 12 seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Reggie Jackson played only five of his 21 major-league seasons in New York, but he is, and always will be, a Yankee. Frank Robinson played only six of his 21 seasons in Baltimore, but he is, and always will be, an Oriole.
And for those of you who insist on a basketball example, here goes: The late Wilt Chamberlain played only five of his 14 NBA seasons in Los Angeles, but, to me, he is, and always will be, a Laker.
“By far this was the hardest day that I’ve had to focus,” Garnett said. “This is bigger than (when I went back to) Minnesota. Minnesota wasn’t like this.”
‘‘That was our era. No one can ever take that away from us,’’ Garnett said after the Nets beat the Celtics 85-79 on Sunday night. ‘‘I think we will always bleed green as long as we play basketball. We’ll bleed green when we’re six feet under.’’
Kevin Garnett changed the NBA. He was the first of these lithe super freaks who played out on the wing despite being seven feet tall. He ushered in this new generation of bigs who challenged the notion that time spent in the post was directly proportional to every inch above 6’6″ they were. He dominated the game from all points on the floor and laid claim to some share of “best ever” conversation at his position… whichever position that is.
He did all of that in a Minnesota Timberwoves uniform.
“It felt good to be showered and for the city to show their appreciation [and] the organization, man. You give yourself. People always say that players can be too loyal. I don’t believe that. A city like Boston is worth it and tonight’s the epitome of all that.”
“We’ll bleed green when we’re six feet under.”
A Wolves fan reading this might claim we’re full it; that we’re the big, bad, Boston bullies hip-checking Minny out of the family photo album.
That’s not what this is. We know Kevin will always have love for Minnesota. But what he went through in Minnesota was like a divorce. It hurt. It wasn’t supposed to end that way. There are “woulda’s” and “shoulda’s” that leave a bitter taste.
His departure from Boston has left him more as a widower than a divorcee’. The era that gave him the vindication he so craved has passed on. It held on valiantly and lived longer than most people expected, but in the end, the Garnett-era Big 3 slipped peacefully into the annals of NBA lore.
For Garnett, the difference is extremely important. For Garnett, last night’s tributes weren’t separate. He viewed the love showered down on him and Paul Pierce as part of one, long tribute to Celtics greatness that began with “We love ya Cooz,” and will keep on rolling, in all likelihood, when his and Paul’s numbers are raised to the rafters.
The Celtics can’t be mentioned without their “storied history” being part of the conversation. Garnett, from day one, has done everything he could to part of that history.
The most forgettable Celtics – Art “Hambone” Williams and Eric Fernsten – would show up in the locker room in Miami and Golden State, and Garnett would search out Twiss and want to know all about them. “He was really fascinated with Hambone,” Twiss said.
“I told Kevin this, and I still believe it: I only wish Red had been around here for Kevin. Oh, they would’ve loved each other. Red would’ve loved the way Kevin played, and Kevin would’ve sat there and listened to Red’s philosophies all day long.”
Kevin Garnett played a long time in a different city, but there is no more perfect franchise for him than the Celtics. His time here is cemented as one of the great eras of a great franchise.
So with all due respect to what he’s done and where he’s done it, Kevin Garnett is a Celtic.
Related links: ESPN Boston: Feel the electricity | ESPN NY: Pierce, Garnett honored in Boston | Herald: Emotional tribute rekindle’s Garnett’s love for Green | Globe: Garnett: Return to Boston bigger than return to Minnesota | CSNNE: Two unforgettable Celtics honored on memorable night | Stevens: This town “gets it” | WEEI: Garnett: tribute was over the top
Page 2: Cue the Jeff Green speculation machine
Woj on SXM NBA radio said he thinks Jeff Green is going to be moved if not by the deadline by the beginning of next year
— Jay O (@MrTrpleDouble10) January 27, 2014
Green’s got two more years on his deal that will owe him $18.4 million. The $9.2 million is a debatable number for a guy who can look so good one night, and so pedestrian the next.
The thing about Green is that he still has that enticing potential. A GM could look at Green’s successes and think that his team’s situation is more suitable to replicate them. That GM could look to move a bigger-contract (hopefully, attached to a disenfranchised star looking to make a new start), that could be spun into a multi-player deal.
Remember, the most important player on this Celtics roster is probably Keith Bogans, who has perhaps the most valuable of contracts: A mid-level, non-guaranteed deal that can be almost immediately cut. He can be added to virtually any deal to make it work. Green and Bogans suddenly make a near-max player technically possible. And it’s that technically possible that’s the most important step. From there, the Celtics can sweeten the pot with some of their million draft picks over the next few years (it’s actually 17, but in this league, at this time, it feels like a million).
As for who that player might be in a potential Green trade? I don’t know, and I hate to throw scenarios out there, so I should probably just leave this here.
Besides, there’s no precedent in Boston trading a bunch of young players with promise after a horrible season to a team with a star player… maybe even a star forward… who could never seem to get that franchise over the hump. It’d be silly even entertain that though.
Gorman on @Toucherandrich said Pierce told him he wants to return to the Celtics (at some point, in some capacity, didn’t rule out playing)
— Jay O (@MrTrpleDouble10) January 27, 2014
Good, because our last memory of Pierce in Boston shouldn’t be this
Related links: ESPN Boston: Pierce comes home again | Herald: Pierce overwhelmed by shower of love | Globe: Celtics were lucky to have Paul Pierce | CSNNE: Pierce, Garnett return the love after tributes | Pierce on leaving Celtics: “It was very difficult” | WEEI: Pierce calls return “toughest game I’ve had to play”
The rest of the links