By Scott Cavanagh
From 1957 through 1986, the Boston Celtics captured 16 NBA titles – an average of four every decade. From Cousy and Russell to Havlicek and Cowens to Bird and Parish, Gang Green was basketball magic -- a flawless machine of excellence that produced championship teams as easily as Hall-of-Fame players.
But the luck ran out in the late eighties. First potential superstar Len Bias died of a heart attack on the very day the Celtics made him the number two overall pick in the 1986 draft. Then the floodgates opened -- Magic's hook shot to seal the '87 crown for LA, Bird's feet, Bird's back, McHale's legs, the death of Reggie Lewis, ML Carr, Rick Pitino -- Antoine Walker. Twenty-two years of basketball purgatory.
Then, as suddenly as it left, the magic reappeared this summer. In a pair of moves that shocked the basketball world, Celtics GM Danny Ainge acquired perennial all stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen for what amounted to 12 players -- or the majority of the Boston roster.
Included in the deals were emerging talents Al Jefferson and Delonte West, as well as first round draft pick Jeff Green from Georgetown, but not included was Celtics captain Paul Pierce, whose continued presence gives Boston three legitimate all stars in their basketball primes.
With Lebron James leading a rag tag band of Cleveland castaways to the finals last season, expectations are understandably high for the Celtics' new Big Three, but can the talented trio that's never won big before, gel together and bring another title to Boston -- without a bench?
The new look Celtics begin their quest for a record 17th NBA crown Friday night, when they host the Washington Wizards.
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Thursday, November 1, 2007
By Scott Cavanagh