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|Representatives from Boston Basketball Partners, LLC, above, are introduced as the new owners on New Year’s Eve, 2002.(Courtesy of NBA.com)|
The Celtics franchise changed dramatically with Paul Gaston’s sale of the team in late 2002. In came Boston Basketball Partners LLC, and owners Wyc Grousbeck, H. Irving Grousbeck, Steve Pagliuca, Robert Epstein, David Epstein, and John Svenson. On Sept. 27 of that year, the Celtics announced the team was sold pending league approval. On New Year’s Eve, 2002, the sale was officially announced. Wyc Grousbeck, the Managing Partner and CEO of the company, was extremely excited about the $360 million purchase: “This is the thrill of a lifetime. Our local ownership group, the first local owners in decades, is honored to accept this role and begin working with the team and the community to continue the winning tradition of the Celtics on and off the court.”
Right away, the owners made a splash, signing former C’s guard Danny Ainge to become Director of Basketball Operations while former GM Chris Wallace moved to another job within the organization. The new ownership, just like Bob Kraft with the Patriots and John Henry and co. with the Red Sox, seemed more geared to win rather than make money.
In 2005, Forbes.com valued the Celtics at $353 million, which was good for 10th in the NBA. Numbers for the 2007-2008 season have not been released, but I’m sure the sheer number of tickets, merchandise sales, and attention to the team in terms of ad revenue will go way up. If those numbers go up, so will the value of the team.
That’s one thing I don’t understand about some owners. Some owners like the ones for the Kansas City Royals or Tampa Bay Devil Rays aren’t willing to take the risk by spending a little money on the team. If the team wins, the value of the team goes up. If it doesn’t do well but doesn’t cost much to run, these owners are happy as long as they’re making money. That’s what I respect about Kraft and Henry and Steinbrenner and Mark Cuban; their willingness to spend money. I see that same willingness in “Slyc Wyc” and co., as seen by an offseason in which the Celtics brought in two superstars with big contracts and inked a few free agents as well.
Celtics team progress under Boston Basketball Partners, LLC since 2003-04 season
Overall Record (2003-2007): 138-190 (.421 win%)
Playoff Record (2004, 2005): 3-8 (.272 win%)
Opinion: Despite the poor record in both the regular season and playoffs (in two appearances), the C’s appear to be going in the right direction. Last season, it seemed the team was headed toward the doldrums of the NBA. In just a few months, the Celtics went from the bottom feeders to an instant contender in the Eastern Conference, and a lot of credit should go to the owners for allowing Ainge to spend the extra money to get the right players. Over the next few seasons, with a NBA title-contender in place, the owners may see their overall record with the team become a winning one, which would be a marked improved over the years since the team last won an NBA title in 1986. Despite a few good years in the early part of this decade, it would appear the team is poised for an exciting end to the decade which could translate to an NBA crown.