Celtics Central

Boston Celtics

Celtics 2009-10: One of the Greatest Teams Ever?


They are not taking aim at Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. Some Celtics have bigger things in mind like…Michael Jordan’s best Bulls teams. Their coach is aiming at the best defense ever.

Wyc Grousbeck revealed in a video interview on Media Day with Gary Tanguay, that Kevin Garnett told Rasheed Wallace that this team could be one of the greatest ever with him coming (and if things break right).

That was then. Friday night Rasheed Wallace dropped this bomb -“I think we can get that Bulls record.”

The ‘greatest team ever’ statement, was that a Kevin Garnett hyperbole meant to intrigue and entice Wallace’s imagination? Or is it something actually considered attainable?

Rasheed Wallace…

Oh definitely. Definitely, playing with those three other guys, also combining that with the guys we have on the bench, I think we definitely can. Me personally, I think we can get that Bulls record. You know we have the talent for it. We have the will for it and…I think we have the defense for it.

Do you want me to use that?

You can. Because honestly, I really do feel that. That was a good team. They had some HOFs  on there, but we have a few on this team, too.

That’s a high mark to shoot for…


Doc has also talked about having the best defense ever like, he uses the Chicago Bears the ’85 team, taking that kind of mentality

We want our mark to be known as a defensive team, not just high scorers.

One of the greatest ever?

Glen Davis -“We can.”

Put your ear to the ground. Listen. Quietly.

You’re thinking, ‘I don’t hear a darn thing.’

You might not. Most people aren’t hearing anything….yet. But in just a few weeks, you will. You won’t be able to miss it. There is a basketball team in Boston that thinks it can make some big noise.

The Sound of Rolling Thunder

It will be low and soft at first. You won’t know quite what you’re hearing. It will be a distinct low, constant rumble. Like a rising tide in a storm, the decibels will gradually increase as October 27th draws closer.

Paul Bunyan-esque, wait, make that… a John Henry pile driven freight train is starting to roll down the tracks.

The wind will pick up. Slowly at first, then gradually shaking doors, rattling windows and opening eyes as people look out to see what under God’s heaven is causing all the commotion.

That sound is the Boston Celtic basketball team, regrouping… make that massing for an all out assault…after reloading. But they are not simply getting ready for a season. They feel they are getting ready for The Season. A ‘Remember THAT team?’ season.

They were ‘69 wins fierce’ last year. They led the Eastern Conference Finals representatives, the Magic, 3–2 and were close to closing out the Magic in six before falling in seven games. They did it even with their fuel injection clogged a bit and a couple of cylinders out. Arguable the team’s best player, Kevin Garnett, and supersub Leon Powe were out with season ending injuries.

It was a tremendous year by most any standard. Everyone knew that repeating would require divine providence without Garnett. Other Celtics strained to make up for lost power.

People forgot that the Celtics have a few other proud warriors. They were a team that refused to accept excuses and reasons to fold up and go play golf early. Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis, and some little guy named Rajon Rondo wanted to keep playing. Outnumbered and outflanked, like Custer, they died with their boots on.

The Celtic engine, that is Kevin Garnett,  has been surgically repaired. It just needs to be broken in, tuned. But a diabolical head mechanic and his mad scientist coach have tricked out the train with even more massive horsepower for a return season. Truly, it was the players themselves that convinced Wallace to throw in with them.

Doc, before the Knicks preseason game, was asked about getting Rasheed to commit.

Doc Rivers called it his ‘begging tour’…..

“I said, Rasheed, please come.”
(Rasheed walks by at that moment and mockingly says, ‘Hell no.’ – laughter)

“We really believe that if we allowed him to get on that flight and to go to San Antonio and to Orlando, it’d be very tough to go to both of those states (and have him consider cold winters in Boston). We thought we had to make a great imprint in his mind about being a Celtic and how important it is and I thought we did that. Kevin, Ray and Paul did that. And I thought it meant a lot to him to walk into a room and all those guys are sitting there. He didn’t know that (they would all be there).”

What did they sell him on?

‘Winning, playing together, being a team, no egos.”
Doc mugs, looks around, and with a devilish smile adds quietly, ‘hope it was true.’ (Laughter all around)

With recent comments from Doc about personal agendas last season possibly affecting team focus, we got the joke. This season, this team apparently is not joking.

Some on that train, the Boston Celtic Express, some key players themselves, think it not only could win the race, but that the team could set a new course record in doing so.

The depth of Celtic belief in themselves started to be revealed in that Media Day interview with Celtic owner Wyc Grousbeck. He revealed one interesting thing about that private meeting with Rasheed. Wyc said that Kevin Garnett told Rasheed that if he came to the Celtics they could ‘be one of the greatest teams ever.’ That is correct. One of the greatest teams…ever.

A throw away line? Maybe. Until Doc goes on NBATV and says that he wants this Celtic team ‘to be in the conversation’ as one of the…. greatest defensive teams in NBA history. No wait. Make that in sports history. And he said he was serious.

So a season’s quest to reclaim a lost title just became more than that. It is a quest for a special place in sports history. Not just the basketball and not just the NBA. Doc Rivers said that they want to be considered as the 1985 Chicago Bears are for football, as the greatest defensive team (in Doc’s opinion)…ever. Or are at least in that conversation.

For the record, the Chicago Bears that year set a few Super Bowl records. Wiki….

“The Bears set Super Bowl records for sacks (7) and fewest rushing yards allowed (7). The Bears’ 36-point margin over the Patriots was a Super Bowl record until Super Bowl XXIV (45). The Patriots were held to negative yardage (-19) throughout the entire first half, and just 123 total yards in the entire game, the second lowest total in Super Bowl history.”

Doc and this team must have looked at what it accomplished last season without a bench and without Garnett and said, with Rasheed Wallace, Marquis Daniels, and Glen Davis (resigned), that the league really doesn’t know what will hit them.

For the record:

The 1995-6 Bulls went 72-10, had the best rated offense, the best rated defense, scored 105.2 points while giving up 92.9 for a spread of 12.3 points, and beat the Seattle Supersonics 4-2 for the NBA title that year.

Is this ‘greatest team ever’ a team wide belief?

Glen Davis…

We can. With the caliber of our team, the team we have, we can do some big things here. We can do some unbelievable things. You know as far as Ray, Kevin, everybody on this is capable of starting and we just have to make sure we do what the coaches want us to do, and stick together as a team and everything will fall (into place).

The Celtics coach is shooting for best defensive team ever. Key players are shooting for best record ever. They all feel a title will follow if those things occur. Who would bet against that quinella? But can they reach such lofty goals?

So, that low deep sound you are about to hear is rolling thunder coming out of Boston. To make those kind of statements you have to be crazy, confident, or a little of both. This team’s record over the last couple of years says that the talent might be there. But it takes a few breaks and tremendous mental toughness by the core of the team to even get close to something like that.

Pat Riley once famously guaranteed a repeat title to keep his club focused on the prize. Maybe this is just what the team needs to remain focused over 82 games. They have so much talent they can mail it in and beat about half the teams in the NBA.

Adding a player like Rasheed Wallace gives the team 4 veteran all stars and a potential one in Rondo. With Perkins, Daniels, Davis, and House, they have a deep, formidable top nine.

Rolling thunder generated by a Celtic locomotive with a special place in sports history in mind starts the season on October 27 against an arch rival with a dream of their own, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Can this team do what Jordan, Pippin, Kukoc, Rodman, Harper, Kerr, and Longley did? Let the conversations begin.

Thomas Halzack