Perhaps more accurately, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are upset that they lost Kendrick Perkins. Not a word about Nate Robinson. Never the less, the mood permeating the Boston squad after their short-handed team lost to Denver last night was not one of hope – but one of regret. Check out these quotes from the ESPN column:
“Tough day to play basketball,” Kevin Garnett said. “Very tough day to play basketball, to even concentrate. Just being bluntly honest. You feel like you lost a family member today. Tough day.”
“It was very emotional, especially for me being that I had a chance to see Perkins grow up from day one, fresh out of high school, coming in here and seeing the level he got to, a championship team,” said Paul Pierce. “It’s definitely emotional. I had a chance to talk to him this afternoon a little bit, he was definitely hurt. The guys around this locker room were definitely hurt to see Perk go.”
“I hate to lose a teammate like Perkins,” Pierce said. “He meant so much. People don’t understand chemistry is from the bus to the plane to the locker room, so it’s definitely a blow. It depends on how the other guys make the adjustment.”
How bad is the emotional situation in Boston? Pierce even went out of his way to defend LeBron James’s free agency choices, when all he has had for it in the past is derision.
“It’s the nature of the business,” he said. “People thought LeBron James was cold for leaving Cleveland the way it is. This is an example of how it happens on the management end. You can’t get mad at the players because it can happen to them unexpectedly, just like a player can go where he wants. It’s just the nature of the beast.”
Doc Rivers has to feel particularly slammed. He spent the better part of the past two-and-a-half seasons crowing about how the Celtics Championship starters never got a shot to defend their title. Now, they never will, thanks to Danny Ainge.
Ainge has been wildly celebrated for assembling Boston’s Big 3 v2.0. However, he was basically gifted Kevin Garnett, who we all know is the glue that made that championship team. Ainge managed to acquire nothing worthwhile for Antoine Walker back when he was still valuable. Ainge signed Mark Blount for six years and $42 million dollars (including a 15% trade kicker). In 2005, Ainge had three draft picks. The result was Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, and Orien Greene. Now he has traded away toughness and defense that almost won one and almost two championships for Paul Pierce’s backup and a center that cannot get it done against the likes of Howard and Stoudemire.
In the interest of a great season, and a competitive playoff run, I really hope these Celtics can pull together and recover from the loss of their starting center and second most important bench player. It would really stink to see the GM ruin what has been one of the greatest basketball teams of this century.