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Nothing sums up the differences between the Heat and the Celtics than this video posted on CSNNE.com. This Miami Heat team has always been about flash and arrogance, as opposed to being able to get your hands dirty when you needed to in order to win the big game. The latter is exactly what the Boston Celtics exemplify.
The video posted on CSNNE.com shows everyone how different these two teams are, and it doesn’t show a second of either team playing basketball. You can learn a lot about the character of an organization and its members by observing how they go about day-to-day operations. To the Boston Celtics organization, the acquisitions of Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett were nothing more than a smart business move. When they were signed all they had was a small press conference with some reporters and cameramen in the room. Danny Ainge knew that by landing both of these players, he was giving his team a legitimate opportunity to contend for a championship. The key word there is “opportunity.”
When Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen came to the Boston Celtics it completely turned the franchise around. The year before, the Celtics finished dead last and were barely able to win 20 games. They had the second best chance to receive the first overall pick in the lottery, which would have given them the shot at drafting Greg Oden or Kevin Durant. However, Danny Ainge made it clear that if he did not receive one of the first two picks in the draft, he was going to trade whatever pick he did have. Sure enough, the Celtics’ terrible luck in the lottery reared its ugly head once again (a decade before, they missed a chance to draft Tim Duncan because of the draft lottery). They wound up with the fifth overall pick in the draft, and nothing symbolized the feelings of Boston better than Tommy Heinsohn’s soft chuckle when they were announced as the fifth overall pick. That small little chuckle basically stood to say “you have got to be kidding me.”
While we can sit around and wonder what could have been had we been able to draft Kevin Durant, don’t forget to remind yourself that this team was most likely going to draft Greg Oden (had they had the No. 1 pick). The thoughts of Kevin Durant in Celtic green are fantastic, but the thought of Greg Oden in Celtic green, and never playing, are dreadful. The lottery ended up working out in our favor as we took that fifth overall pick and sent it to the then-Seattle Supersonics for Ray Allen. The Celtics weren’t done yet as they shipped practically their entire time to Minnesota to acquire Kevin Garnett. With those two trades, accompanied by the Captain Paul Pierce, the Big 3 was born, and Boston finally had a basketball team worth cheering for again.
The key component with this team was that nothing was handed to them aside from a jersey. When the jerseys were given to Allen and Garnett, Ainge could be heard quoting Red Auerbach saying “Red always said the name on the back is more important than the name on the front.” That line is what defines this Celtics team, and these three men in particular. They came in and bought into the formula that this was an opportunity to win a championship ring, but no one was simply going to give them one. They knew that it was going to take key contributors off the bench to make this season a success. They knew that Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins, two young players, were going to need to play smart basketball if they were going to win anything. Danny Ainge knew that he needed to sign the right players to compliment the talent of Pierce, Allen, and Garnett. He went out and signed guys like James Posey, Eddie House, and PJ Brown. Players like Leon Powe stepped up and played big minutes anytime they were on the court. All those components added up to an unselfish group of players who had one goal in mind: Win a championship no matter what it takes.
The Celtics went from the bottom of the league to the best team in the league, finishing 66-16. After not being able to win 25 games the year before, they weren’t able to lose 20 games in the 2007-2008 season. It was an impressive turnaround that can be attributed to the character of the players as well as the organization.
On the complete other end of the spectrum is this Miami Heat team. Instead of having a simple press conference to announce the signing, like every other team in the history of sports, this group decided to throw a championship caliber celebration, in July. The thing about the NBA is championships aren’t won in July during the offseason, they’re won in June by playing the game. Miami treated their two free agent signings as the be-all, end-all of sports. These signings had to guarantee them a championship right? According to Lebron James they weren’t going to win just one, or two, or three, or four, or five, or six, or seven. No, no, no, they were going to win EIGHT championships. That’s an impressive number of championships considering at the time, those three men were basically the only ones left on the team (in order to make room in the cap to sign James and Bosh, most of the team needed to be traded or released).
The lack of teammates didn’t matter to them. As James says in the video “With me and Wade on the wings we could have Pat playing like his Kentucky days and we’ll still win. Just throw it up there and we gon’ go get it.” A stark contrast to the Celtics who said multiple times in their small press conference that it takes a full roster to come together and form solid chemistry in order to win anything in this league. Dwyane Wade says that the three of them are the greatest trio ever assembled ever. How could he possibly know that without playing one minute in a game on the court with either of them? He said it because the Heat are the most arrogant bunch of players in the NBA. Watching their victory celebration in July shows everyone that they think they are the gold standard of the NBA, and everyone should consider themselves lucky to bear witness to their greatness. The only problem with all of this is that with the exception of Wade in 2006, they have not won anything. LeBron has his MVP’s, but he also has a list of big games were he choked, or passed up the game winning shot. Jordan never passed up the game winning shot. Kobe never passed up the game winning shot. And you can bet all your money that when the game was on the line, Bird and Magic were begging to have the ball in their hands.
The Heat were handed the moniker “The Big 3″ and didn’t think anything of it. Danny Ainge told his guys that they won’t be the Big 3 until they win anything, and they know that. The Heat were handed the keys to the city of Miami, and even the keys to the county. The Celtics were handed jerseys. The Heat were the favorites to win it all last season, even though the Celtics just went to Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Lakers the year before. The Celtics’ version of the Big 3 has been disrespected its entire existence with critics calling them too old, or saying that they are past their prime. Yet with all the negativity surrounding them, they continue to find ways to win without making a single excuse. On the contrary, when things go bad for the Heat, you can bet that LeBron will point fingers, or say that he is happy with his individual performance.
The Heat are a group of self entitled, arrogant athletes who want everyone to hand them what they think they deserve. The beauty of sports is that the only thing you deserve is what you go out and work for. The Celtics have had to work every season with this team to continue to have a chance at contending. They have been in the playoffs every season since the Big 3 was assembled and have been to two NBA Finals, winning one. The Heat let their arrogance get the best of them last season and the Mavericks, a team who so clearly wanted to win more than the Heat, surprised them in the finals by beating them in six games. The media was stunned, the Heat was stunned, all of Miami was stunned. But anyone who really knew what the Heat were all about so them losing that series a mile away. You cannot win a championship thinking it should be handed to you. You have to go out and take it by any means necessary.
Game 7 is more than just Celtics vs. Heat, or Boston vs. Miami. It is an embodiment of Good vs. Evil. The hard working old guys who need to pull out every skill they have ever used in their career in order to take down the young group of arrogant natural talents, who believe they have already won eight championships without actually winning one. The Celtics don’t need to win just for a shot at a championship. The Celtics need to win so the Heat don’t get that chance. They need to win so people will realize that natural talent will only take you so far, but it’s the hard work and will to win that you bring to the court that will be the difference in winning or losing. The Boston Celtics need to win this game to, quite frankly, shut LeBron James and Dwyane Wade up.
Their backs are against the wall and no one is giving the Celtics a chance. This isn’t going to be pretty. It’s going to be a bar fight. It’s going to take “grit and balls.” And that is just the way this Celtics team, and the city of Boston, likes it.
“Pack for a week.”
Tags: Big 3, Celtics, Danny Ainge, Dwayne Wade, Eastern Conference Finals, Eddie House, Game 7, Greg Oden, Heat, James Posey, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, Leon Powe, NBA, P.J. Brown, Paul Pierce, playoffs, Ray Allen, Tim Duncan