West gets the last laugh
If you're like me and closely followed the Kevin Durant free agent drama over the past couple of days, you'll have noticed that the Warriors had Jerry West, a member of Golden State's front office board, lob a call to Durant yesterday, which may or may have not tipped the scale in Golden State's favor. Allegedly the call wasn't to persuade Durant on what he should do but rather explain how painful it was losing all those Finals to the Celtics back in the 1960s and how they still eat at him today.
It's been hypothesized that this call had an impact on Durant and who could blame him: when a top 10 all time NBA player and the logo of the league calls you, you're gonna listen.
But what wasn't balleyhooed was what Durant enjoyed about his conversation with West. Talking about basketball.
Was that a direct insult at the Celtics bringing in Tom Brady, football star, to talk to Durant? I'm not sure. And kudos to Tom for going. He's a legend in his sport and is revered in Boston.
But considering all this really got me thinking: with all of the Celtics' legends and retired numbers and owning the distinction of the most NBA titles in NBA history with 17, how was it possible that none of the former Celtics' elite could attend the Durant meeting?
The Celtics resorted to bringing Brady, he of the NFL (TB Tangent: speaking of this, imagine Red Auerbach turning to Doug Flutie in 1987 to try and recruit Alex English to join the Celtics? My what a difference 30 years makes!) while the following Hall of Famers and Celtics' legends sat at home having no allegiance to any other NBA team currently and still not partaking with the meeting: Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Sam Jones, KC Jones, Jo Jo White, Tom Heinsohn, John Havlicek, Dave Cowens, Tiny Archibald, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish.
Were they all busy with other plans? How come not one of those guys was coerced into going?
Bill Russell's considered the greatest winner in American sports history who had his troubles with the city of Boston before putting it behind him and having a statue raised in Boston. Talk about someone that should have an impact. Have you ever heard Sam Jones gush about how amazing it was to play in Boston? The guy has 10 NBA titles. Jo Jo White and Robert Parish? Hell, even if they couldn't talk about Celtics' Pride couldn't they mention their experiences in Oakland?
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Where was John Havlicek? Or Dave Cowens? Or Kevin McHale?
Back to West, how convenient of him to mention the losses that bother him still today. West failed to mention to Durant that he never looked to join those Celtics' teams but rather beat them and eventually won his title in 1972 for a Lakers' team that's considered one of the all-time best.
But give Jerry credit. Despite being absolutely tormented by the Celtics' during his playing career, one must acknowledge that he has absolutely gotten the best of his former nemesis during his second career of being a general manager.
He acquired Mychal Thompson in 1987 who was a catalyst for LA getting past Boston that year. While the Celtics selected Antoine Walker in the 1996 draft with the #6 pick it was West who insisted the Lakers acquire Kobe Bryant from Charlotte at #13 in the same draft. West had a relationship with the Buffoon when he helped get Pau Gasol to LA in 2008, a deal that ultimately cost the Celtics the 2010 title. And now this.
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Say what you want about Celtics' fans being happy to be one of Durant's final destination choices, putting to bed the idea of no free agents ever considering playing in Boston. I'll remember it as a Hall of Famer who never played a second for the Warriors in his career making an influential call to Kevin Durant while none of the Celtics' greats were involved in the process. And if that's true, that really sucks.