Thursday, July 19, 2007

El Capitan

It has been three weeks since draft night and I realize that I have not written anything about the Ray Allen trade except for indicating its larger implications. Mainly that's because so much has been said and I don't have any substance to add, and also that while it was a "huge" trade it really does not seem that earth-shattering to me.

Overall I thought it was a decent transaction for the Celtics. My biggest remaining question with it is did anybody find out who Danny was going to take if he kept the pick? The answer seems important, and I haven't read anything about it. Supposing it was Green or Brewer, I support the trade more. Ray Allen is worth more in my eyes than a soon to be pricey D-West, Jeff Green, and Wally. I just don't think it really hurts the team, although it seems kind of random unless they add another big-time piece.

And these topical musings lead us right to my esoteric thoughts about Paul Pierce, captain, who we haven't heard much about this summer except for the expected bullshit "trade demand" before the draft and his "ecstasy" after the Allen deal occurred. Smart people can't take much stock into either of the statements that Pierce supposedly made. P.P. probably has been playing pickup ball and enjoying LA, like he usually does in the summer, and that's all we really know.

But reading the brilliant FD post yesterday only reinforced the obvious in my mind: Pierce is in complete limbo. This means a thousand things, but the main point is that unless the miraculous turnaround happens soon (i.e. Garnett and Carlisle), it does not look good for Paul in green.

Maybe this should not surprise us. As great as Pierce is, he is not Tim Duncan. Nor is he Dwayne Wade. He is not the uber-magnificent player who seemingly deserves his date with destiny. Nonetheless his failure to achieve great success hits so close to home because it is the most vivid reminder of how the Celtics dynasty is dead. I shudder thinking of Pierce's inevitable decline, and it is just as bad to think of him being traded. It is as if all of Pierce's greatness was completely for naught.

And it shouldn't be this way. Pierce was recently rated as one of the top 100 players ever. Yet his teams' success is so fallow compared to all the great Celtics teams that it is hard to clearly understand this. Every great Celtic has won a championship except for Reggie Lewis and Pierce. Reggie died, and that meant that we did not ever have to admit that he might not have won one. With Pierce there is no way we can be in denial. It has been obvious, and it has been obvious for a long time. The Celtics are a normal team, there is no glint of specialness, and the privilege I felt as a little kid to be watching such greatness is entirely gone.

The best basketball I ever saw Pierce play was in early 2006. His decision making was marvelous - he was at his most selfless and was finding the open man every time he drove and did not have a quality shot. Frankly, it was shocking. As good as Pierce had been, I never knew he could be this good. For a few weeks in January he was the best player in the league, it was surely the finest a Celtic had played as an individual since Bird.

And the Celtics lost more games than they won in this stretch. It was horrible. How could you have the best player in the league, playing the most team oriented ball of his career, and still lose consistently? It just blew me away. It was then that I decided that Rivers had to be the Anti-Christ of coaches for sure. And it made it clear how little help Pierce had gotten on the floor during the Ainge regime. For all of Pierce's flaws were negligible when compared to those made by management.

Pierce today is one of the best halfcourt player in basketball. He has never been suited well for transition basketball, and certainly is not now. In the halfcourt, when he trusts his teammates and plays unselfishly, there are few as dominantly efficient. Basically, at this point, Pierce has to play to with smart, veteran players to be at his most inspiring. The Celtics, as in the past, seem to have no true understanding of this. Therefore Pierce will probably go on as the dimmest star of the Celtics legacy, a truly fantastic player that was never complemented well enough, and who wasn't spectacular enough to get great things done all alone.


Anonymous said...

great post.

Anonymous said...

yeah totally dude. pierce is the man. we need to get jim o'brien for the c's to kick some ass!

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