9.13.2008

Fighters and Playmakers Wanted

Championship makeup is slightly different than team chemistry.

Chemistry relates to how well players gel with each other. Championship makeup is a reflection of a team’s intestinal fortitude. Both are important, but at the moment, if I had to choose which is more important, I’d go with championship makeup.

Reflecting back on our championship run, a couple of things come to mind.

The first is the image of KG coming off the floor in game 4 of the NBA Finals, after the Celtics had erased a 24-point deficit. The game wasn’t over. But the Celtics had the momentum.

“Never give up, baby,” Doc said to KG as they bumped fists.

The next image is that of Paul Pierce walking down the tunnel after game 4.

“That’s how you fight,” Pierce said as much to himself as to the millions of people watching.

Never give up.

Keep fighting.

What else are we missing?

A vision that sees obstacles as foot hurdles that must be cleared in the everyday journey to reach our goals and not as mountains that must be avoided and scaled only with extraordinary effort.

Leon Powe’s return from multiple knee injuries comes to mind. Same for Tony Allen. Minutes-wise, Powe, BBD, and House all watched their roles get reduced and their minutes scattered inconsistently during the 2008 playoffs. Not as serious as a knee injury, but to a professional athlete, not particularly gratifying, either.

All four of them fought through their challenges and were ready to perform when called upon to do so.

Who else kept fighting?

Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kendrick Perkins, Rajon Rondo, and James Posey. The Big Three had never won anything. Perkins and Rondo weren’t good enough to be starters on a championship team. Posey wasn’t good enough to get the MLE.

No matter. They kept fighting. They used their chips as motivation.

What I like about our off-season moves is that we may have added 4 guys, two for sure, who seem to now treat obstacles more like molehills than mountains. Take Bill Walker, for example.

"Having the scope changed everything," Walker said. "It knocked me down [in the draft]. When everyone got wind of that, they backed off. But that's life. You can't be mad. You just have to work hard and get past it. My job is to be as healthy as I can and get past it.

"I always thought I'd be here," said the 6-foot-6-inch Walker. "Ever since I was a small kid, I've always watched the NBA. I always worked hard to get to this level, it was just a matter of when. Now, I have to make the most of the opportunity."

"The setbacks helped him," said Chris Rivers, a Reebok executive who advises Walker. "He is very mature and he doesn't take things for granted. But he is also humble and very, very hungry. He has a calm sense about himself, like, 'I can play at this level but I don't need to talk about it.' He's had three surgeries in five years, but when he's recovered and healthy, he is one of the top players in his class.

You read the same sorts of things about JR Giddens (listen to the audio provided by the Mother Ship).

It’s less clear to me if Patrick O’Bryant and Darius Miles have the requisite championship makeup. But it is clear that they’ve faced their own hurdles, O’Bryant playing in a system not suited for his talents and developing a reputation for being lazy, while Miles' behavioral and health challenges are well documented.

One thing all four share, however, is the talent to make plays. Walker could be a beastly power-3. Giddens defensive skills have been highly touted, but he can also light it up on offense from anywhere on the court. O’Bryant has some length and shot-blocking abilities he can put to use guarding opposing big men. Darius Miles could always make plays on both sides of the ball, just not consistently.

Ultimately, the 2008 Boston Celtics won the championship because they kept on fighting and they made plays when they had to. Let’s see what the newbies have to contribute on these fronts this year.

2 comments:

The Kid said...

The end result is going to be another championship. I really think that the Celtics are going to cruise this season with about 61 wins and an easier time in the playoffs this year. The only team that scares me in the entire NBA is the Cavs, and that's because they have Lebron. That's the only team I think that has any kind of real chance to stop the Celtics this year.

Lex said...

Yeah, TK, the East is underrated. The best teams in the NBA last year might have been

Boston
Clev
Det
Lakers
NO

Not so sure about 61 wins. Injuries and other things, ya know...

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