Stars, present and future, are "walking through that door"

Most of us likely remember Rick Pitino's verbal rant directed at the Celtics faithful (per ESPN's Eamonn Brennan):

"Larry Bird is not walking through that door, fans."

It is a great reminder that Celtics fans never want to go back to such a dark time in the team's history. Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale never did walk back through the Celtics door, but present and future stars are now doing just that.

Here is a quote from Danny Ainge indicating his strategy for future drafts, trades and free agent signings (per's Gary Dzen):
“We have a lot of good players, but we need some great ones.”

Red Auerbach developed a reputation as such a shrewd negotiator that rival GM's became afraid to deal with him. The same has happened to Ainge. Trading for Isaiah Thomas was simply another heist by Danny, but decisions will have to be made in the upcoming contract season for Isaiah. During a summer league game, Isaiah had this to say about his next contract (per CSNNE's A. Sherrod Blakely)

"They better bring out the Brinks truck."

The Thomas quote has has become quite a conversation piece for Boston fans, and probably both an irritant and source of amusement for Danny. But no one seems to mention the analogy between Danny Ainge's acquisitions and the Great Boston Brinks Robbery of 1950. Quite ironic. Certainly, signing Al Horford in free agency was very significant for the future of the franchise but recruiting Gordon Hayward was critical. Boston has suddenly become a desired destination for star players. Strong, stable ownership and management play a large role in this trend, but Coach Brad Stevens' arrival in Boston was a necessary piece of the puzzle. ESPN's Chris Forsberg had this to say about Brad's skills in recruiting:

"At the pro level, Stevens remains a master recruiter. Even to those he already has recruited once before."

Brad recruited Gordon out of high school to play for him at Butler University, and then again out of free agency to play for the Celts. The long-term relationship between the two was certainly important, but not the only reason for the free agency signing. Gordon's visit to Boston and his experience there apparently had a major impact on his decision.

A large part of that "something different" would be Stevens as Celtics Coach. Brad has the reputation of making players better, turning role players into stars and perhaps, stars into superstars. And the players trust and respect him.

I refer to Rick Pitino's reign as President/Coach of the Celtics as the Dark Age of Celtics History. Rick was impatient, arrogant and made bad decisions. Trading future star Chauncy Billups in his rookie season and berating Boston fans are classic examples. The Ainge/Stevens duo, on the other hand, has shown patience and understanding with their players and fans, and they certainly have made great decisions. Intelligent drafts, trades and free agent signings have put the team on track to be very good for a long time.

The success or failure of any organization starts at the top. Providing a culture that will lure skilled players of high character to create a winning environment should be the goal. The San Antonio Spurs have done that. The Celtics have followed suit. Hayward and Horford are the type of players that can get Boston into the finals and beyond. I can't wait for the Celts next roster move.

Photo Credit: Gordon Hayward's Instagram