On January eight, 2001, Rick Pitino left his place as head coach of the Boston Celtics. Jim O'Brien has been appointed interim head coach and a brand new period has begun. There was no championship at the moment and it’s not even ranked among the many prime 10 in Celtics historical past. However it’ll all the time be my coronary heart and my coronary heart, as a result of it was right now that the Celtics basketball was once more enjoyable.
I used to be weaned on the 80s Celtics, so I knew what good basketball was. Nevertheless, the sluggish decline of this dynasty, the tragic deaths of Len Bias and Reggie Lewis, and eventually the tanker years of ML Carr, have delighted me with the enjoyment of Celtic basketball. I used to be very prepared for Rick Pitino to "save" the Celtics, however by the tip of his time period, I simply felt betrayed and cheated.
Jim O'Brien was beforehand Pitino's assistant coach. So I used to be very skeptical about it at first. The workforce reacted by ending the season with a .500 document. O'Brien appeared to unblock one thing within the guys who have been chained underneath the earlier regime. Or perhaps it was simply the impact of being unfettered Pitino. Regardless of the case could also be, firstly of the 2001-2002 season, everybody was in settlement with the plan. It turned out that the plan was "let it fly!"
You should perceive that it was the pre-Morey-ball, pre-Steph Curry and pre-analytical period. Most individuals didn’t connect a lot significance to Three-point capturing. It was a weapon, actually, however not a star. It was usually a final resort if you happen to couldn’t look higher or if you happen to have been down and also you needed to come again within the sport. O'Brien could have been a person earlier than his time as a result of he had determined to let his gamers (particularly his stars) from Three and the preliminary outcomes have been very optimistic.
Paul Pierce, who shot 384 occasions in triple the yr earlier than, collected 520 that yr. Antoine Walker took it to a different stage, going again 645 from the deepest. As a reference, Klay Thompson took a most of 650 in 2015-2015, and it turned to 43.9% that yr. Walker shot solely 34.four% that yr and averaged 32.5% for his profession. Not precisely the best effectivity.
But it surely was totally different and it was enjoyable. And you wouldn’t realize it, it labored. Paul Pierce is a legend due to what he has achieved since 2008, however don’t sleep on his exploits earlier than that date. He was a respectable All Star perennial. That yr, he averaged 26.1 factors per sport. Otoine Walker is just too usually remembered for taking an excessive amount of within the Three-point capturing and counting on it as an alternative of searching for higher alternatives. However at his peak, he was a flexible and gifted star. At first of his profession, he was a double-double machine and a talented smuggler.
Pierce and Walker additionally had chemistry on the bottom. They performed a number of occasions in a room the place Antoine was holding the ball elbow and Pierce lower the baseline. As an alternative of going out for a move on the wing, Pierce would isolate his hoop man as if we have been in boxing. Walker lugged an ideal move and Pierce caught it and laid it down calmly whereas defending the defender. Usually, they’ve one too.
Kenny Anderson (a hair that has surpassed its peak however nonetheless a dynamic performer) and a solid of veteran gamers (Tony Battie, Eric Williams, Vitaly Potapenko). On the commerce deadline, the workforce determined to take steps so as to add much more depth by calling veterans Tony Delk and Rodney Rogers (on the expense of rookie Joe Johnson). This commerce continues to be topical and warns in opposition to the pitfalls of placing within the carpet of a workforce farther away from the title.
Nonetheless, this resolution strengthened the workforce and helped it to win 49 wins, the second seeded and probably a visit to the Japanese Convention finals. All this led to their signing second Recreation Three, one of many largest returns I can keep in mind.
Down 21 factors after Three quarters, Antoine Walker had sufficient. He began screaming within the caucus, urging his teammates to play for pleasure. One thing needed to set off Paul Pierce as a result of he turned a disaster (he was solely 2 years previous for 14 years so far) into an assault (he scored 28 factors over the past 12 years minutes). The Celtics completed with 41 factors within the fourth quarter and received the match at four.
I had by no means seen something prefer it. It was not excellent (as evidenced by the primary three quarters). It doesn’t make a lot sense. However dude, it was exhilarating. I used to be standing up, pumping my fist and making the Walker Wiggle to the perplexity of my associates. It was chaotic and downright inspiring.
It was additionally short-lived as a result of the Nets have been going to win the video games of sequence four to 2. However not earlier than giving us a helluva journey.
The un-celebrated period would have extra suits and begins till the keys to the automotive have been lastly handed over to Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers (they usually did properly, I assume). Jim O'Brien left with none championship, however he helped the Celtics return to the playoffs for the primary time since 1995. It was a step in the suitable path and a cornerstone of Paul Pierce's profession.
Extra importantly, for me, it was the restored sense of Celtics pleasure. I sadly understand how dangerous Antoine Walker's profession was, however he helped the Warmth to qualify for a Championship and he’ll all the time have a spot in my coronary heart for this course till the ultimate of the World Cup Convention. 'Is. Stir on the # eight worker. Wiggle on.