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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Whelan and Dealin’

May 22, 2007: A date that will live forever in infamy for Celtics fans. As soon as it was revealed that the Boston Celtics would receive the fifth pick in the draft, it seemed like just another in the run of bad days that had plagued fans over the last twenty years. Who knew that this would be the seminal event in the Green finally turning things around?

It all began on June 19, 1986, when Len Bias, whom the Celtics had drafted second overall just two days earlier, died of cardiac arrhythmia resulting from a cocaine overdose. It would continue on July 27, 1993, when Celtics star and team captain Reggie Lewis collapsed and died on the court at the team’s practice facility from a massive heart attack. The event that would seal the preceding decade, and banish the franchise to mediocrity, occurred on June 25, 1997. The Celtics were denied the first overall pick despite having two top-ten picks and the league’s worst record. Either pick could have been used to draft future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer and franchise-maker Tim Duncan. Instead, the city of Boston watched in horror and disgust as the Spurs selected Duncan, who would go on to lead them to a Title four out of the next nine years.

The Celtics, who had received the third pick, drafted Chauncey Billups, traded him for Kenny Anderson in the middle of his rookie season and … we all know how that turned out. Since Bias’ death, the Celtics have yet to win an NBA Title and have been plagued by poor management, poor coaching and the aforementioned list of Red Sox-esque tragedies.

So who could blame Celtics fans, who had been salivating over the likes of Greg Oden or Kevin Durant in a Boston uniform, for thinking that they had once again been cosmically screwed? We are New England sports fans and, despite very recent history, we were used to it. Yes, we were once again the lovable losers of the sports world, caught on the short end of the stick with the mascot ironically named, of all things, “Lucky.” However, a funny thing happened on the way to another losing season.

Little did we know that this horrendous miscarriage of basketball justice, had robbed us all of the championships that had been a birthright for previous generations of fans, would actually set off the chain of events that would give us the chance we had been waiting for.

It all started when it was announced on draft day, June 28, 2007, that the Celtics had traded for the sharp-shooting Seattle Supersonic, Ray Allen. Now, it’s hard not to like Ray Allen. He played at UConn, has a silky smooth game and may just be one of the smartest and most cerebral athletes in any professional sport. Excitement, however, was tempered by the fact that Allen was on the wrong side of thirty, had ankle problems and was just enough to push the team back into the middle of the pack where they had taken up residence the last decade. Allen just seemed like the consolation prize.

Jump to July 21, 2007, another date that will always be remembered in the annals of Celtic history. In the biggest deal for any one player in NBA history, the Celtics acquired ten-time All-Star and former MVP Kevin Garnett from the Minnesota Timberwolves for half their roster. Included in the deal were young studs Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes and dunk champion Gerald Green. The deal had been rumored for about a year, but had never advanced past the embryonic stages. It was the acquisition of Allen that finally made the deal a reality. It was amazing to see the Big Ticket come to Beantown, but the team was left with only seven players on the roster who had logged NBA minutes, and two of them were Brian Scalabrine and Leon Powe. The trade was great, but, once again, there were dominoes yet to fall.

With numerous roster spots and cap money freed up from the Garnett deal, the Celtics were able to sign a cast to support their stars. They signed defensive mercenary James Posey. They needed a guy to supply some offense off the bench, an Eddie House-like guy, so…they signed Eddie House. They were one goofy back-up center away from a complete roster and, lo and behold, Scott Pollard signed as a free agent for a lifetime of free salon visits. The season began and the Celtics started on an 8-0 run, playing the best basketball seen in this town since the last Big Three patrolled the parquet and all was good.

The moral of this story is, “Be careful what you wish for.” Just think, if the collective prayers of the region had been granted on that fateful day in May, and the Celtics had received the number one overall pick and drafted Oden, we would have spent the season admiring the suits he wore to the games while watching from the sidelines. The team would be exactly the same as the one that opened last season and finished with the league’s second-worst record. Another sad chapter in Celtic and Boston sports history would have been written and we all would have sunk further into the winter malaise that has dominated this town for the last decade every day that the Patriots don’t play. Instead, the basketball Gods decided to part the storm clouds and once again allow the sun to shine on Boston. After what we’ve been through, it’s the least they could do. I bet Red put in a good word for us.

About the Contributor
Ben Whelan served for the following positions at The Mass Media for the following years: Editor-in-Chief: Spring 2009; 2009-2010. News Editor: Spring 2008; Fall 2008 Sports Editor: 2006-2007