Does Danny Ainge Listen to Sting?

Len-Bias-Reggie-Lewis.jpg (400×225)

I remember shortly after I graduated from college, my brother-in-law visited me, noticed a record album on my kitchen counter (Sting, Nothing Like the Sun), flipped it over, and quickly called my attention to a song called "History Will Teach Us Nothing." A history teacher by trade, he lifted a skeptical eyebrow in my direction. Just having graduated with a history major myself, I felt like I had some splainin' to do.

It's not that Sting disavows George Santayana's old saw about those who forget history are condemned to repeat it. Sting just believes we need to be careful  about drawing the proper lessons from history.

I recalled this exchange with my brother-in-law a few days ago as Danny Ainge was introducing heart-surgery patients Chris Wilcox and Jeff Green as the newest free agent signings of the Boston Celtics.

The heart has not always been the happiest organ in the body for the Boston Celtics.

During the summer of 1986, while the Celtics were still celebrating Banner 16, Len Bias, the Celtics #1 pick in the NBA draft died of cardiac arrest. Several years later Reggie Lewis left this mortal court in a similar fashion. Len Bias was being compared to Michael Jordan at the time of his death, while Reggie Lewis was thought by some to be emerging as the second best guard in the Eastern Conference behind the same Michael Jordan. Bias' death was the result of a cocaine overdose, while Lewis' death may or may not have been complicated by drug use.

So what, you might ask, is Danny Ainge doing messing around with two more players who have heart problems? The smart money would tell the Celtics' Boss to run away from Green and Wilcox and run as fast as Danny's aging body can take him. Wish the players well, of course, but run for the hills if they come looking for a contract.

This isn't the path Danny chose, and I have a pretty good feeling it was the right one.


Number 1, all of the available medical evidence demonstrates that both heart problems were correctable. Number 2, neither player shows any signs of recreational drug use. Number 3, other NBA players (Ronnie Turiaf) have successfully undergone heart procedures and returned to have productive careers on the hardwood.

So the real question might be why not? Why not sign these two players who have proven they can contribute to winning basketball teams?

I'm sure more than a few Celtics' fans have questioned these signings.

But to have let these players walk would have been to draw the wrong history lessons from the Bias and Lewis deaths. The Bias and Lewis deaths were the result of risks unknown to the Celtics. The Green and Wilcox heart problems have been fully diagnosed, making an investment in those two players calculated risks.

No investment is without risk, but the risks Danny took with Green and Wilcox are thought to be slight at the moment.

We'll all see how those investments pan out.


FLCeltsFan said...

Danny couldn't let Green walk. It would mean that he got nothing but Fab Melo from trading Perk and destroying the chemistry on that team. But I agree that signing these two players doesn't carry that much risk because the heart problem was fixed with surgery and shouldn't affect them now. I'm sure they will be closely monitored, however. Excellent article.

Lex said...

Thanks FCF. It's gonna be up to doc to put it altogether. Interesting pieces, though

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