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Today, May 8th is the 27th anniversary of former Boston Celtics coach Jimmy Rodgers getting canned.

Rodgers, who took the helm at the start of the decline in Larry Bird's career in 1988, was by most measures a good coach, having served in the Celtics organization as an assistant under K.C. Jones for some time, winning three of his six rings with the club (the other three with the Michael Jordan-era Bulls) before replacing Jones as head coach. Rodgers, who put up numbers not unlike current coach Brad Stevens' record of the last two regular seasons (42-40 his first year, which Bird missed all but six games of due to back problems, and 52-30 his second year, one shy of this year's regular-season win total), did not get let go because of the record so much as the back-to-back first round exits of the club in the first (and only) two years of his tenure, an unacceptable outcome for the proud franchise. Said Red Auerbach, then working as team president (per the New York Times' Robert McG. Thomas Jr.):

"It was just the consensus of the committee that a change would be in order ... [without change] we felt the future would just be a repeat of what happened this year.''

The so-called "wilderness era", the six-year stretch without a playoff appearance, was still technically several years in the future, three years out from Bird's retirement in 1992. But the warning signs were there, and more than a few have suggested that Rodgers' tenure should have been the point of blowing up the roster while Bird and the aging core of Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, and Danny Ainge still had value, in much the way Ainge would do with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry decades later. However, it bears remembering that of the youth movement of that era - Reggie Lewis, Brian Shaw, and Ed Pinckney - only Pinckney would work out for Boston, and by "work out", I mean contribute for multiple years without the intervention of deep tragedy or protracted court cases. Keeping Rodgers and moving some - if not all - of the aging veterans might indeed have shortened our collective purgatory period...but quite possibly not - we'll never know.


Today also happens to be the 37th birthday of former Celtic guard Keyon Dooling, a beloved "glue guy" for the second-to last year of the next championship core, detonated by Ainge in 2013. While Dooling only spent one year with the club, playing only about 14 minutes and averaging about four points, an assist and just under a board per game with the Celts, he played and participated in the life of the squad in a seemingly much larger capacity. Dooling would retire after his stint in Boston, except for a short stint with the Memphis Grizzlies the next season, and has since focused on helping other NBA players navigate the complexities of being a professional basketball player.



For more articles on CelticsLife about Celtics' history, click here.For more by Justin, click here.



Photo via Getty Images/Robert W Stowell Jr.
Data via basketball-reference.com
Follow Justin at @justinquinnn

Justin Quinn 5/08/2017 12:12:00 PM Edit
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