12.04.2008

Making Me Feel Bad about McHale


The other day I provided a link to an audio file of Peter May talking about his new book "Top of the World," which chronicles the 2007-08 championship season of the Boston Celtics.

I know a lot of you don't like Mr. May.

I'm cool with that. But I try to take writers one article at a time, or one interview at a time in this case.

During the interview, May said that McHale's biggest failure was "having Tim Duncan for ten years" and failing to surround him with sufficient talent to bring home the bling.

In one sense, May isn't saying anything we haven't heard before. The reference to the Big Fundamental was of course a reference to Kevin Garnett.

In another sense, May is saying something new.

What if McHale had succeeded? Not later in KG's career, but early on. Let's say McHale had surrounded Garnett with a couple of guns early in his career. How many championships would we be talking about?

Garnett sure seems an awful lot like Bill Russell to me. He also reminds me a lot of a healthy Bill Walton. Take your pick.

Now do you catch my drift?

KG comes to Boston and the Celtics post an 84-18 regular season record, unmatched in Celtics history, win one title, and look like a pretty good bet to win another.

I know Garnett makes a lot of money, and he's finally got his ring.

But for those of us who feel an emotional bond with the Big Fella, it does make you wonder how many titles Garnett might have won had McHale done right by him. Considering that the world bows down in reverence to MJ for his six rings, it gives me moment to pause.

Speaking of MJ, his mere mention brings us back to reality and poses an important question:

Do we really think that a much improved Wolves team could have defeated Jordan and the Bulls, Duncan and the Spurs, or Shaq and the Lakers? My answers are "No," "Possibly," and "Yes, at least once and maybe twice." I don't see anyone other than the very best teams of all time beating the 72-win or the 69-win Bulls from the late 1990s. It seems more possible that a very good Wolves team could have upended the Spurs on at least one occasion. Regarding the Lakers, they barely got past Portland in the WCFs during their first championship run. So, yes, they were ripe for defeat.

The question I pose is one of those great imponderables, and thus can never be answered with any satisfaction.

But it does offer some perspective on the whole "McHale failed KG"
saga.

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