With 2006 coming to a merciful close for the Celtics, there isn't much to look fondly back upon. Going back to January, the Green have a 2006 record of 31-50 and are limping into their end-of-year game against Seattle with a 10-18 record, riding a five-game losing streak with no relief in sight.
It was a year headlined by the Wally/Ricky trade, the draft-day dealings, and, above all else, injuries. In short, it was a year most C's fans would like to forget.
But that's the great thing about the calendar. You throw out the old one and start anew. Maybe that 2006 calendar of kittens hanging from tree branches, each one captioned with "hang in there!", got old around March. But you had to wait a whole 'nother nine months to replace it. Now, you can start fresh, learn from past mistakes, and plan the next 12 months around pictures of monster trucks or satellite photos of the moons of Jupiter, making up for last year's horrible calendar mistake... and hope you don't regret your decision when March rolls around again.
Anyway, not many teams could use a fresh start like the Celtics, so here's a new 2007 calendar to mark the new beginning for each member of the Celtics, which will hopefully help each of them make a clean break from the downer that was 2006, and help them turn the page in the new year.
Paul Pierce – Aunty-Stress Activity 2007 Wall Calendar
The description on this calendar is as follows: "The Aunty-Stress calendar brings you a year of fun activities to help you relieve your stress."
If anyone of the C's needs stress relief, it's Paul Pierce. As Paul carried the C's single-handedly over the past year, giving the C's the most dominant single performance they had seen in at least 10 years, Paul undoubtedly was disappointed by the end result of last season, and came into this season wanting to up the ante. Of course, after Red's death before this season, the urgency to win seemed to increase this season. Every bad bounce, missed shot, and ultimately every loss seemed to weigh heavy on him. The more heavy it weighed on him the more he tried to do, to the detriment of the team at times.
Now, as the season slowly slips away while Paul sits on the sidelines with a stress reaction in his foot, which will keep him out at least another few weeks, it's time for Paul to let go a little. Don't sweat the small stuff, reach your inner Zen, and know that every game without you is a chance for others to possibly become better for when you return. And when you do return, don't feel the need to once again shoulder the entire burden for this team's successes and failures. Learn to share the responsibility, and you'll find defeats may seem less bitter and victories may seem a little sweeter. Until then, sit back, relax, and let the disappointments, frustrations and stresses of 2006 fade away.
Wally Szczerbiak – The Far Side 2007 Desk Calendar
Wally is a wing player without much of a slasher game. Occasionally he tries to do too much with the ball, like dribble into the lane, but it ends up being so slow that the defense is usually able to recover and force either a bad pass or shot. Wally is at his best when either playing on the far end of the court in the corners, while spotting up for shots, or posting up on the weak side of the defense where he can get good position before help defense comes. He is also adept at swinging the ball quickly along the perimeter, which helps get guys open looks before defenses can rotate. In all cases, Wally does his most damage when either occupying or passing to the far side of the defense.
Al Jefferson – Allen Iverson 2007 Wall Calendar
This calendar could very well be a collector's item, if only because it features 12 months of 2007 with pictures of Allen Iverson in a 76ers uniform. Maybe if Big Al is forced to stare at A.I. in a 76ers uniform he won't realize that the NBA's second-leading scorer has already been traded to Denver, and Big Al will continue to work extra hard to make sure he's not shipped over to Philly.
Gerald Green – Seize the Day 2007 Wall Calendar
With all of the injuries the C's have been dealt this year, perhaps no one has more to gain by their absences than Gerald Green. Although started the year lower on the depth chart than Pierce, Wally, Tony Allen and Delonte, injuries to Paul and Wally opened the door for Gerald to get minutes he wouldn't have gotten otherwise. And although Green has made some impressive showings with the playing time he's been given, he has regressed slightly since, looking a little more tentative on the court, especially with Wally back in the mix. But Gerald can't afford to be tentative anymore. He has to make the most of his playing time right now, because, with Allen once again playing well, playing time will be hard to come by as the healthy bodies continue to return. And when Paul comes back, and with Wally probably headlining the second team, Gerald will see his opportunities diminish somewhat. So, he has to make the most of the playing time that has been opened up and prove he can be a key rotation player for this team even when they are 15-deep on the roster.
Delonte West – Non Sequitur 2007 Wall Calendar
The Celtics' reigning "king of the quote" is a master of the non sequitur. Seemingly every interview with Delonte includes some out-of-left-field comment that leaves you laughing and scratching your head. Whether he's a point guard, shooting guard, combo guard, right guard, or tooth guard, Delonte will continue to keep his interviewers off guard every time he opens his mouth. And everybody loves him all the more because of it.
Tony Allen - Procrastinator's Planner 2007 Desk Calendar
The biggest procrastinator on the team (he took all of preseason and the first two months of the season to start playing NBA basketball), Tony will have no excuses in 2007. Now playing the best he has all year and doing it consistently, it doesn't seem likely that Tony will revert to his early-season doldrums. Not only has his offensive game finally cracked through the shell, but his defensive awareness has given the C's a needed boost in the area of the game where the team is still well below average. Good things can only result if Tony continues to play to his strengths.
Sebastian Telfair – Bullfight Calendar 2007
No, Sebastian is not getting this calendar in anticipation of any knock-down drag-out games with the Chicago Bulls, but rather so he can get a better lesson at the style and grace with which you can sidestep something that is charging at you. By February, Sebastian should be screaming olé with the best of them. Not sure if carrying a red cape onto the court will earn him technical fouls, though.
Ryan Gomes - Fire Trucks in Action 2007 Deluxe Wall Calendar
Steady, sturdy, and brave, Ryan Gomes is one of the rocks that the Celtics thanklessly rely on. He's not the most flashy guy, and doesn't call attention to himself, but Ryan has bailed the C's out of messes with his shooting, hustling and tenacity on the boards. Although he has been in somewhat of a slump lately, his reliable production is necessary to prevent the C's from burning to the ground. There are many fires breaking out right now, but Ryan has the ability to help in a variety of ways that can help stomp some of those blazes out.
Kendrick Perkins – Essence of Leadership 2007 Wall Calendar
Only in his third year, Perk has already established himself as one of the locker room leaders on this young team. Part of it has to do with his intimidating presence. Wouldn't you listen to Perk if he got in your face? At the same time, Perk has to bring his leadership on to the court as well. He's still working himself back from plantar fasciitis, but Perk has to be able to resume his role as defensive leader of this team. With a healthy and productive Perk manning the lane on D, it should spill out to the rest of the team defense, which has been nothing short of woeful in his absence. Perk must do whatever he can to regain that role and make sure his teammates put in the same amount of effort and energy as he does on the defensive side of the ball.
I thought this calendar was an important choice for Rajon for two reasons: 1) His confidence seems to be at an all-time low right now, and some positive thinking could help his decision making and his woeful jump shot, and 2) to reinforce the importance of sticking to the opposition like a magnet.
There's no doubt that Rajon's most important contributions right now are in the way he can create havoc on the defensive end, locking down speedier point guards and anticipating passes by sneaking in the passing lanes for steals. He should get playing time when he's playing great defense regardless of what he's bringing to the offense.
Because, you know, having your career sidelined because of a bad back can probably be a little depressing.
Michael Olowokandi - The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People 2007 Desk Calendar
The former No. 1 pick has seemingly sleepwalked his way through an eight-year NBA career. That all changed in the 2006-2007 preseason when he was playing for a job, and the Kandiman came into camp with a gusto and purpose he hadn't before exhibited. However, early into the regular season, after securing a job for another year, the Kandiman's body couldn't hold up to the renewed gusto and he tore an abdominal muscle. Now that the Kandiman is back and relatively healthy, he'll have to make sure he doesn't fall back into the old habits of his previous eight years and coast through the NBA season. He has to carry his preseason effectiveness over into the rest of 2007, because the C's are going to need all the big bodies they can get.
Leon Powe - Lost 2007 Wall Calendar
I figure Leon can relate to the TV show "Lost" pretty well, because he seems like he's stranded at the end of the bench for no apparent reason. Maybe he's in an alternate universe. Maybe Leon is really in purgatory (surely playing for the Celtics these days must seem like it). Maybe he's the subject of a psychological experiment. Only the "others" know for sure why Leon isn't back in the Real World playing regular minutes in the NBA.
Brian Scalabrine - An Insult-a-Day 2007 Day-to-Day Calendar
No Celtic has gotten more grief in 2006 than Brian Scalabrine. Now, playing his best stretch in Green since he signed that five-year contract in 2005, Scal has an opportunity to give some of it back. This calendar should provide a good reservoir of ammo for the redhead the next time some smart-alec behind the bench gets a little lippy.
Allan Ray – Cheerleading 2007 Wall Calendar
Although he has gotten spot minutes recently because of the 2,357 injuries the C's are currently suffering, Allan Ray will serve mostly as bench warmer for the C's in 2007. So, it's important that he become versed in the proper techniques of cheerleading, since that will be the biggest role he probably fulfills in the near future. But don't pooh-pooh it, every team needs a top-notch cheerleader. Heck, M.L Carr is probably best known as a player for his towel waving on the sidelines, and people loved him because of it. Jack Haley got a pretty long NBA career out of cheerleading on the bench. It's not the worst job in the world.
Doc Rivers – Medical Bloopers 2007 Day-to-Day Calendar
Since there doesn't seem to be any "Basketball Xs and Os" or "How to build and maintain the confidence of your young players through steady rotations" calendars, this one seemed the most appropriate. After all, the man is a Doctor. Although with the amount of injuries the C's have waded through this year, he should be in line for a hefty malpractice suit.
"I do not intend to trade Antoine." "Last year people said we had no point guards, now we have two." "I will use chips to bring in another veteran All Star." Ahhh, that wacky Danny Ainge. The master of Celtic spin.
So, after the ball drops and 2007 is ushered in, I hope just a few of the Celtics can find some inspiration in the New Year. With these personally-selected calendars, they don't really have an excuse not to. Will it lead to more wins? We'll see. Personally, I'm an optimist, and I also like to take credit for things that I was only marginally and indirectly responsible for, so I'm pulling for them. If it doesn't work out? Well, I'll start searching around for calendars that center on things like "lottery" and "ping-pong balls."