Paul Pierce believes it's time for Banner 18, if players make sacrifices
I don't know about you, but I'm inclined to listen when a guy called "the Truth" is talking.
Sure, I'm biased, but when it comes to the Boston Celtics and winning championships, Paul Pierce has established himself as an authority. So, when he recently said that another title is within reach for the team, my ears naturally perked up.
"When you have that type of talent, they’re going to have to learn to sacrifice ... Not everybody is going to be able to accomplish maybe the individual goals they want to accomplish, but the team’s greater goal should be all that matters ... You have to sacrifice if you are truly committed to trying to win a championship ... They’re going to win a lot of games, but unless they sacrifice - because we know they’re going to be better than probably what their numbers show - if they can sacrifice they’ll win a championship this year. Because the talent is definitely there."
With as many as five potential All Stars in a top-heavy Eastern Conference, and, reportedly, in their coach Brad Stevens' estimations, as many as ten guys capable of starting for a decent NBA team, some sacrifices are going to have to happen for this team to compete.
While it may be true there is only one ball, on the other side of the court, you need at least four of the five guys on it to be able to hang and willing to fight for it, and bruised egos on one end can quickly become subpar effort on both ends.
Will the Jay Team learn to manage expectations, and be OK if one shows promise in a starting role early in the season, but the other has to sit? Conventional wisdom tells us bringing in new stars can also be a source of friction, and while both Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving may not exactly be "new" stars to Boston, they certainly are in the sense that the Philadelphia 76ers always seem to have "rookies" winning the eponymous award of the year.
And what if Kyrie starts off slow, and needs Terry Rozier to step up early, only to go back to the bench later in the season? How will Marcus Smart fit into the picture with a pair of number three picks taken after his draft season start nibbling at his minutes, as will Scary Terry and maybe even Brad Wanamaker?
Do we have a plan in place for when Smart punches something stupid in January?
That last bit was (mostly) a joke, but there really are a lot of ways the wheels can come off when they are carrying so much talent, and while that's a great problem to have at the outset, it can also leave a bitter taste if even a small step isn't taken, and with Kawhi Leonard joining a team which had the most wins in the conference last season, Jaylen Brown's finals prediction is far from as certain as we'd like it to be.
The decisive factor is going to be leadership, and according to Paul, they have what it takes, so long as they make the most of their window (again, per Dunphy):
"They have the talent, they have the coaching, what else is left? .. They’ve been to the Eastern Conference finals twice in a row. The next step is getting to the Finals and eventually winning a championship ... Who knows what will happen next year with players moving, injuries? The time is now ... I would help give a sense of urgency, like, there’s no tomorrow, the time is now. This is our opportunity now. And help them understand that, to the point that this could be our very last game playing together. Do you guys want that? I don’t think so. We have more to prove."
I love how the man still refers to the team as "us"; let's hope the basketball gods approve of his message come May.