Danny Ainge Did For LeBron James What No PR Firm Could Do

I interrupt the stock talk to talk NBA hoops for a minute.  Let me start by taking back all of the bad things I said about LeBron James.  I am officially resigning from the LBJ hater’s club.  Danny Ainge just gave the green light to every basketball player in the NBA to put “me” first.

I moved to Boston in 1987 from Florida. I began drinking the Kool-Aide slowly.  At some point, over my first 5-7 years I truly became a Boston sports fan.   Since I have been here, there have been three Super Bowls (2001, 2003 & 2004), two World Series (2004, 2007) and one NBA Championship (2008) celebration.  It kills my family when I go back home bragging about the City of Champions.  Matter of fact, I only here from some of my relatives when a Boston team gets knocked out of the playoffs.  If you live here long enough – you just get sucked in.

Basketball has always been my favorite sport.  It goes back to my days of raining jumpers from all over the court. If I had been a few inches taller – it would have been me hugging Reggie Miller in the Garden a few weeks ago instead of Ray Allen.  I wasn’t here for the championship runs in the 80s, but the last 4 years have been special for me as a Celtics fan.  Danny Ainge masterful maneuvered to bring Kevin Garnet and Ray Allen here to team up with Paul Pierce to win the title in 2008.

Interestingly we all bought into a 3 year window to win a championship, so the 2008 championship caught most by surprise.  We gladly accepted the trophy, but we hardly knew KG and Ray.  Over the next 2 1/2 years, through their struggles with injuries and conflicts they became our guys.

I recall seeing KG rip into Glen “Big Baby” Davis and Big Baby break down crying.  Big Baby a 6’9” grown ass man crying.  He was crying because he loved KG like a brother and he knew that he wasn’t living up to his responsibilities.  The Celtics had become something very unique in today’s sports.  Yes, they were professionals.  However, they truly cared about each other.  They were by all definitions a team.

How does any of this relate to LeBron James?  When LeBron announced that he was taking his talents to South Beach most considered it a selfish move.  The City of Cleveland had embraced LeBron.  The management bent over backwards to meet all of his desires, but it wasn’t enough.  LeBron believed it was in his best interests to go to South Beach a pursue a championship.  It appeared that LeBron put his interest in front of the team, the management, the fans.  This was a move for LeBron James.

On Thursday, Danny Ainge, General Manager of the Boston Celtics, traded Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Now Perkins wasn’t the most talented player on the team, but he was a critical component.  Like KG, Ray and Paul he accepted his role for the betterment of the team.  Like I said, these guys believed in team.  Matter of fact, this team was on their way to winning their 18th championship until Perkins was hurt in game 6 of the finals last year.  In game 7, the Celtics ran out of gas without Perkins available to play.

The special bond that we had the pleasure of witnessing over the last 3 1/2 years was ripped apart by Ainge’s trade.  The team first attitude apparently doesn’t extend to management.  If there is a deal that can be made to improve the chances of winning – then management just does it.  Tell me how is this any different than what Lebron James did by taking his talents to South Beach.

The players were vested in this team.  The fans were vested in this team.  At the time of the trade, the team had the best record in the Eastern Conference.  Many experts were picking the Celtics as composed to win the championship.  Management said F it.  We have a better plan.  I am willing to bet that every player on that team and without a doubt the majority of fans would rather had seen that team lose in the Finals than see the newly constructed team win a banner.

LeBron has been trying to repair his image since “the decision.”  Danny Ainge sent a message to all NBA players to look out for number one before you get slammed in the face with a baseball bat.  LeBron could have handled his decision a little differently, but I’m no longer hating him for it.  It may be a stretch linking Lebron’s decison to Ainge’s trade, but the move reminded us of the callousness of management.

In Little League we learned that it isn’t always about the outcome, but the journey.  That lesson ain’t just for 10 year olds.

Update 3/5/11:

I’m off the ledge. Ok, Perk is not the next coming of Bill Russell and LBJ is still a knuckle head. Banner 18 in June ’11……

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  • I’m off the ledge. Ok, Perk is not the next coming of Bill Russell and LBJ is still a knuckle head. Banner 18 in June ’11……