Originally written January 28, 2013 on Extra Pine Tar:
Come on. Seriously, come on. What the hell? It didn’t even look like anything when it happened. Suddenly there were whispers on Twitter of a possible serious Rondo knee injury. The MRI had been performed, but the results couldn’t be confirmed. What happened next made the whole thing seem even more surreal than it already was. For the first time in a long time for the sports world, news was broken by a sideline reporter. I was searching the internet at a furious rate trying to find somebody to confirm it figuring that one of the big time basketball reporters was going to have the exclusive, and Doris Burke breaks the news on TV? People were sourcing Doris Burke on the worst possible news that could happen to the Boston Celtics. How the hell did that happen? And then just when things couldn’t seem any stranger, you find out that the players don’t even know yet. Rondo walks out and the crowd raises to its feet. I would imagine at that point just about everybody in the Garden knew that Rondo was all done except for the players. It was nice to see the Celtics battle against the best team in the East. They were able to take the blows and respond back, even if that didn’t always mean with a clutch basket you could still count on them playing tough defense. That seems to be how it goes for the Celtics of late – hard, smart basketball until the end when they just don’t hit baskets that you need down the stretch to win a close game in the NBA. Today though, today they had just enough to get by the Heat. This game could have been a signature moment in this season. And it certainly will be, but not in the way we all hoped. What this moment instead became was a last glimpse in to the Celtics teams that used to own Lebron James and the Heat (whether together or seperate). The players have changed since the original Big 3 was put together, but the mindset has always been the same – as a unit we can beat any team no matter who’s wearing the other jersey. Even though Rondo wasn’t on the court today the Celtics still knew how important this game was. They all knew a win today could propel them out of the tailspin of the last six games. The sense of relief that came from pulling out a gusty win in front of your home crowd without your best player wouldn’t last long. Doris Burke once again broke the news, this time to Paul Pierce during her post game victory sideline interview. A moment that should have been a celebratory recap turned in to an odd glimpse of an athlete we’ve watched play for the last 14 years. Paul Pierce couldn’t control the overwhelming feeling of “Oh, come on…” that every Celtic fan was feeling as soon as they heard the news. You couldn’t make up a more crippling injury in the NBA. Nobody, and I mean nobody, had to do more with less, in a bigger market with huge expectations like Rajon Rondo has had to do this season. Maybe the Celtics win a few games in a row, maybe the even make it in to the playoffs, but any chance of a deep run got torn to shreds with Rondo’s ACL. I don’t care that over the last four seasons the Celtics winning percentage is .602 with Rondo in the lineup and .604 with him out of it. This is much, much different than those times. I still think the team should make a move. Even with the injury there is still an overcrowding of undersized two guards. But a move shouldn’t drastically change the landscape of the Celtics moving forward. You can’t trade Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett, they have earned the right to retire as Celtics if they want. Jeff Green and his sporadic production are untradable under his current contract. I’m still holding out hope that Green can be the player the Celtics expected him to be when they inked him for nine million a year. With Rondo out of the line up the Celtics have very few players who can consistently create their own shot. As rough as Green has looked this season, he can still create his own shot on a regular basis. Sure he might travel a few times, or dribble the ball off his foot, but he’s still only a little over a year removed from open heart surgery. I’m willing to give him some more time before I declare him a complete and total bust. Avery Bradley figures to move over to the starting point guard spot which will only help his developement as a player. Bradley thrived off of Rondo’s aggressiveness and penchant for pushing the ball. Now he’s going to have to run and offense and I really don’t know if he can do it. Bradley isn’t much of a ball handler and if the Celtics want to avoid him getting constantly trapped in the backcourt then they’re going to have employ some kind of point guard by possession system. The loss of Rondo, who at times seemed to be playing 1 on 5 as everybody just kind of stood around and watched him, will force everyone to alter their approach on offense. In the long run this may be a good thing for the core group of young players. In the short term it couldn’t be worse for a team centered around basically three players. Two who are on the back end of their career, and another who was just lost for the season. Doc may not want to write the obituary just yet. I, on the other hand, think this would be a perfect time The Boston Celtics (2006 – 2013) passed away unexpectedly at their home on Sunday January 27th, 2013 surrounded by friends and family. Assembled in 2005 by Danny Ainge, this Celtics group had considerable success during their run. Reaching the playoffs in every season as well as 3 Eastern Conference championships appearances, 2 NBA Finals births and 1 championship. They are survived by much of the current roster and a legion of devoted fans. This Celtics team will be most fondly remembered for the tenacity with which they played defense, clutch performances from it’s star players, the emergence of Rajon Rondo and the amazing coaching of Doc Rivers. The most important of their many accomplishments was bringing the Boston Celtics franchise back to national prominence and maintaining a level of excellence that exceeded the expectations of the “window” that was placed on the team when they were assembled. In lieu of flowers we ask that you place make a donation to the Red Auerbach fund.     
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