Really Important Things: The Debacle That Was Danny Ainge’s Dealmaking

The Boston Celtics aren’t that important.  So this blog isn’t actually about something really important.  Really important things include, for example, the birth of a new boy in my family.  My son is named Gavin Edwards Strachan.  He joined us on Wednesday, and he’s doing great, praise God.

The Boston Celtics, by contrast, are just a basketball team.  That’s all they are.  They play a game.  Games aren’t important.  But they are a part of life, and I happen to love the team in question.  I grew up cheering for them.  The iconic columns of Dan Shaughnessy and Bob Ryan introduced me to sports journalism, and the Tommy Heinsohn Celtics telecasts were themselves a spectacle.  Whenever I visited my grandparents in Lincoln, Massachusetts (an enchanting town), I played basketball in their driveway, and felt as though just being near the Boston Garden would improve my shot.

Having grown up in New England, Celtics country, made it hard for me to see them fall to the hated Heat in the last few weeks of the 2011 NBA playoffs.  One of the great joys of blogging is being able to platform one’s rather humble opinions.  In this case, I want to suggest that general manager Danny Ainge singlehandedly nixed the Celtics’ chances of winning a championship this year.  This is not to say, of course, that the Celts would have won it all.   I’m not sure they would have.  They’re old; Ray Allen couldn’t handle Dwayne Wade, and Paul Pierce looked almost geriatric in the playoffs, outgunned by LeBron James (the NBA’s best wingman) .  However, before Ainge traded Kendrick Perkins, they had had a solid season.  Ainge took a gamble that Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal could spell Perkins.  He lost that gamble.  Shaq barely played this year (though he was admittedly effective when he could play) and the second O’Neal is nearly washed up.  Perkins, furthermore, was much-loved and a great teammate.  He was tough, loyal, and efficient.  Losing Nate Robinson was no small deal, either.  He contributed a lot of heart and energy to the team.

The newcomers, Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic, are both solid players.  But neither fit well in Boston.  Green looked unrelentingly awkward and Krstic failed to register for the most part.  For my part, I would far rather have taken my chances with Perkins and Robinson.  Let me say it again but stronger: Danny Ainge cut the heart out of this team with the Perkins trade.  The Texan might not have resigned after this season, so keeping him would have been a risk, but the Celtics had a chance to win a championship with him, and the emotional boost of his return was a boon to the squad.  Several months later, the small part of me that cares about sports is still incensed with Ainge.

So there you have it.  Unasked for, unsolicited, unneeded–ladies and gentlemen, my thoughts on the 2010-11 Boston Celtics.  By the way, if you want to follow this season on video, check out the splendid show The Association.  ESPN profiled the team this past year and the resulting video was great (dig around online for the other four episodes).

Now if you’ll excuse me, I will let my blood pressure drop, and get back to what matters, namely the new son bearing the name of a certain great New Englander.