You don’t trade away a Larry Bird. I’m sorry but that’s justludicrous. You don’t trade Larry Legend under any circumstances just like youwould never trade a Michael Jordan, a Tim Duncan or a Magic Johnson.
Danny Ainge’s statement that he would have traded Larry Birdshows us why Red Auerbach was so much more successful over his career asgeneral manager of the Boston Celtics than Ainge has been. Teams that fall offwhen their stars get old are teams run by executives that are devoid of vision.
A player’s career only lasts for so long. A superstar likeJordan or Bird can probably carry a team for a little over ten years. Duringthat time you should be trying to bring in talent that will carry the team oncethat superstar calls it quits.
Sure there are some superstars that you can trade butplayers that consistently give you championships, don’t miss games, representyour organization in an exemplary fashion and play their whole careers in your cityshould have the complete loyalty of the organizations they play for. Besides,winning games doesn’t just fall on the backs of the players; the organizationhas to be dedicated to winning.
Management and the coaches have to show not only a desire tofit talent around their star player when he is in his prime but to develop orfind talent they can transition to when their superstar starts to decline.
Ainge cited the long period of losing that came after Bird,Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish retired but there are plenty of teams that havebeen able to play at a high level even after the retirement of their stars. Anexample would be how the Los Angeles Lakers survived after the sudden retirementof Magic Johnson.
It’s been 20 years since Magic announced that he wasretiring from the NBA due to his contacting the HIV virus. You know how manytimes the Los Angeles Lakers have missed the playoffs since then? Three timesand they have never missed the playoffs in back-to-back years.
That only happens when you have an organization that is notsatisfied with the status quo; that’s not satisfied with just making a strongshowing in the playoffs. Even after winning a championship, a team should notrest on its laurels but should work to come back even better the next season.
You do have to give Ainge credit for bringing the big threeof Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett together though. That group wasable to win a championship and made it to the NBA Finals in back-to-backappearances. The problem is that all three were already pretty old by NBAstandards when they were brought together.
Which means that Ainge should have already been looking fortheir replacements when he brought them in. Signing veterans like JermaineO’Neal, Rasheed Wallace and Shaquille O’Neal to play alongside an already agedcore shows that Ainge was more focused on the short term rather than the longterm health of the franchise. Signing those players also took roster spots andminutes from younger players who the Celtics could have been grooming to takeover.
And now that the roster is depleted Ainge wants to trade thebig three. No member of Boston’s big three would ever be placed in the same airas Bird, Magic or Jordan so I can’t say that trading either one of them toimprove the team would be a bad thing. It would have been nice if he would havetraded them when they had more value though. At this point in their careers hewon’t get anything for either one of them.
But of course Ainge is not going to be as forthcoming andcandid about his own failings as a general manager. It’s easy to look back inhindsight and second guess a great like Red Auerbach after watching whathappened to the franchise when Bird retired. Too bad Ainge hasn’t shown theforesight to make this team better in the future.Roosevelt Hall is an NBA Blogger for The Sport Mentalist 2 and also writes for Shatter The Backboard. He can be contacted at RHall@shatterthebackboard.com. Follow him on Twitter @sportmentalist.
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