Danny Ainge's drought-to-dynasty wish needs Red Auerbach's input
The Celtics have 17 Championship flags - 16 of them belong to Red Auerbach as either coach or executive. What was Red's longest drought without a Title as coach? One year! Yes - one year - 1958. As an executive, Auerbach's longest Title drought was five seasons, from 1977-1980, prior to the assembling of the Big-3 of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. The present Celtics are 10-seasons-sans-Championship and counting.
When Bill Russell and Sam Jones were gone, Red brought in JoJo White and Dave Cowens to pair with John Havlicek. That worked for two Titles. When those guys were gone, he found Bird, McHale and Parish - and then added Dennis Johnson and the rambunctious Danny Ainge. That earned Boston three more Titles.
Danny Ainge arrived back in Boston as President in 2003, and it took five years to hoist banner #17. Twenty-one years later and still no banner #18. Danny learned from Red, and he needs to use that knowledge to work some changes.
When you put talent, toughness, character, maturity and teamwork together, the results are Championships. It worked well for Auerbach. When even one of those qualities is missing in one key player, then Boston, we have a problem. Talent? Yes, we have that generally, but some of the troops are not superstars but think they are. K. C. Jones and Don Chaney, where have you gone?
Toughness? It starts with the mental attitude to work very hard for a goal. Some of this crew are lacking that. Where are the Big Reds and Bill Russell's of today? How about character. True character is what you display when things are going bad. I will not pursue that any further. Some of these guys lack character in the clutch - when things don't go their way. JoJo White and John Havlicek - come back to us.
Maturity is an issue with a number of current Celtics players. But maturity is not always about age. Larry Bird stepped in as a leader almost right away. Teamwork? Not nearly enough of it is what I see. Kevin Garnett defined teamwork. He was often too unselfish - but he got his Title. Five-time All-Star, Dennis Johnson, came to Boston, played a lesser role, and his team play was critical in two Championships
Ainge sees flaws in the fabric of this Celtics unit, and some change is a must. This present crew with no changes is going nowhere. Danny needs to hope there is a T-Ro-loving GM out there prior to the trade deadline - unfortunately when Terry's trade value is very low.
I feel one of Auerbach's few mistakes was trading Danny Ainge after the 1986 Championship. You may have questioned Danny's maturity in his early years, but he eventually had all of the five qualities I have stressed here. He should not have been traded.
There is a player out there with the key five qualities of talent, toughness, character, maturity and teamwork. He doesn't have to be a superstar, but he needs to be given a significant role on this team - and stick with it. Don't get me wrong! Rozier is not the only negative issue with the team. But his departure, along with another player or two, in a trade may be a good start.
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Photos via Jesse D. Garrabrant, Boston Globe and The Sports Daily