June 11, 2007
The writer believes the ``too young'' excuse died with the Celtics season late on the night of April 18. The coach believes that notion is idiotic. He pretty much has the same opinion of the writer on this issue.
The premise being offered is that Doc Rivers has had most of his guys for three years, so the chronological constraints are greatly diminished. Rajon Rondo and even Gerald Green will still make mistakes this season that can best be attributed to being too inexperienced to know better, but everyone else is on his own.
We figured Rivers would jump at the chance to embrace the no-excuses mantra. We were wrong.
``No. I don't think you can just say we're ready,'' he said. ``I'm realistic. If our guys are ready to win, we'll win. If they're not and they need another year, then we need another year. There's no years on it. That's such idiotic stuff. You just don't know when it's going to come together, or if it's going to come together.''
There was that stretch last December when the Celtics were a reasonable facsimile of a real basketball team, but some of that was due to softer competition. It all went out the window when Paul Pierce went down anyway, but if you have your core together under the same coach for three years, then shouldn't one be able to expect that a team will do as it is told at least a large majority of the time?
If a player has the requisite talent and aptitude to learn, then exactly whose fault is it if he doesn't perform to his capabilities?
``I don't know,'' said Rivers. ``I don't think it's necessarily on the coach. I think it's on both of us, but I don't think you can say, `Now this year I've got to get them to do this.' That's just idiotic thinking.''
Even after the positive signs displayed by a number of the Celtic kids?
``What did we accomplish?'' countered Rivers. ``We accomplished a bunch of individual guys doing things.''
Precisely. And the logical flow model states the next step is getting the conductor to figure out how to put his musicians into the same harmonic key. What sets best fit their talents? The measure of a coach will be told in the results.
First, however, the coach must get his players to put team concerns ahead of personal matters.
``I think it's the biggest thing,'' Rivers said. ``That's the thing with young players. They tend to focus on that (individual) part first, and you can make a case that none of them have gone past that besides Al (Jefferson). So if you go by that model, that doesn't sound great. But a lot of them are getting closer to being able to do that and being able to do a little bit of both, establish themselves individually and with the team.''
It might be a bit more comforting to the masses if Rivers was confident that his team, even without a draft pick and/or major trade, is ready to take a large step forward, but such a public pronouncement was not forthcoming.
``I don't know yet,'' he said. ``I think that's something we'll see. It's tough to tell. We had so many injuries and all that crap last year, so I don't know the answer. I think we'll find that answer out. I'm hoping they are. I believe they're a lot closer, but whether they are or not we'll find out.''
It should be hoped that Rivers is a bit more certain behind closed doors with his troops. And while he repeats that he's just being realistic and allowing for all possibilities, an air traffic controller with a similar outlook would have Boston Harbor littered with aluminum.
But as foolish as it may seem to some, we're going to go ahead and state that, this deep into the project, anything less than an appearance in the 2008 playoffs by the Celtics must be considered a failure of coach, player and management.
Idiotic? Not in the least.