Here’s who was psyched about the Celtics’ misfortune last night at the NBA Draft lottery: The Boston Cannons.
In a town where fighting for attention is a day-to-day grind against the overwhelming and undying popularity of their professional cousins -- the Red Sox and Patriots -- the Boston Celtics watched their chances of getting back in the popularity game fall with the resounding thud of irrelevancy.
The fifth pick in the 2007 NBA Draft goes to…
You prayed. You hoped. You wore green to work or school. You talked to the Larry Bird poster on your wall, the one that really, honestly needs to come down. You’re 35 years old now, you know.
Besides, the memories aren’t coming back. Ever.
The NBA in Boston, an afterthought for many already tired of a game built on luck and gimmicks like the lottery system, died a little more last night with the revelation that the Celtics will not land Greg Oden or Kevin Durant. The ping-pong balls of destiny bounced the wrong way, yet again, “awarding” Boston the fifth pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, the worst-case scenario for the beleaguered former powerhouse.
If there is a more lackluster professional franchise in this city, I’d like to know which it is. And don’t even start on the Bruins, who any given season could become a competitive squad in the Eastern Conference provided they find themselves a goalie (with all due respect to Tim Thomas, a franchise goalie. See Jean Sebastien Giguere as Examples A, B, and C) and a front-line forward like, oh, how about Joe Thornton?
The Celtics, well, they had one last gasp, and by another cruel twist of fate they missed it. They just don't matter any more.
Why should anyone have expected any different? As if luck hadn’t growled at the Celtics for the better part of two decades, Doc Rivers and company went and angered the basketball gods by tanking down the stretch of the season to solidify their chances at having a better chance in the NBA Draft. If you realize how stupid that sentence sounds, well, I’ll try and dig up David Stern’s office line for you.
"I feel bad for our fans,” Memphis’ Jerry West told Bob Ryan. His Grizzlies had the best chance of landing the top pick, but also ended up with their worst-case scenario, at No. 4. “But I didn't come here expecting to go 1 or 2. This is not sour grapes. I have never liked this system. No other league in sports does it this way. It's not right when the two worst teams in the league do not get a shot at 1 or 2. It's a terrible system."
The more Stern tries to defend it, the more of a fool he sounds. After Philadelphia chairman Ed Snider suggested that each of the 14 teams in the lottery should get one ball instead of the team with the worst record having the greatest chance of winning, Stern replied, “You could have a 45-win team in a particular year be in the lottery and get the first pick. I'm not sure that's what drafts were meant to achieve.”
Has this man been with us the past 20 years?
In any case, I wrote yesterday that if the Celtics landed Nos. 4 or 5, it would still be entertaining to witness how the franchise plans to wiggle out of the mess it has created for itself, and, God bless them, one day later it’s already started with Danny Ainge leading the excuse charge.
“Nobody thought Paul Pierce was going to be as good as he is when we got him at 10,” he said.
This, of course, is a load of bull since Celtics fans were pretty much ecstatic that they had been able to land the Kansas star that low in the draft in 1998. It is perhaps the only moment of the past decade when fate smiled upon them.
Then there’s this image on the Celtics homepage this morning.
Look, kids. 5! Get out your checkbook, ma! Al Horford is coming to town!
I’m not sure whose genius idea this was, to promote the fact that the franchise left New Jersey with the worst possible outcome, but they might as well have linked it up to the New England Revolution ticket office.
So, where now? We’re going to keep hearing that this is still a stacked draft, which very well may be true, but the fact remains that Oden and Durant are laughing on the diving board at everyone else in the deep end of the pool. The Celtics can try and trade the pick, but aren’t going to really land anybody of consequence with it. Or they can make the best of it and draft another run-of-the-mill player who’ll fit well into Pierce’s worst nightmare. That is, supposing he doesn’t demand a trade, which, let’s face it, he should.
Here’s how mock drafts see the Celtics picking with No. 5:
Of course, the Washington Post reports today that Hibbert will announce he’s returning to Georgetown, and the same fate may await the prospects of Hoyas teammate Green. So, as of today you may be able to X both those names off your list.
Odds are that it could be Jianlian who lands in Boston, a player that Ford says has better potential than Yao Ming. Others have compared him to Kevin Durant, which is sort of comical since we don’t really know what an NBA Durant is for all intents and purposes, let alone a player from overseas who very few have seen play. Having fun yet?
They could always tank next season too, dealing Pierce as the prevalent excuse for doing so, but that ship has sailed, hasn’t it? Can we all agree it doesn’t matter one iota? It’s all about luck anyway, which frankly couldn’t be more of a joke if you tried to make one out of it.
The Celtics banked the entire, pathetic 2006-07 campaign on landing Oden or Durant in order to change the face of the franchise, and they instead got their just reward. It’s hard to tell whether Red Auerbach is grimacing or cackling to himself today, feeling pain for the team he devoted his life to, or gloating in the aftermath of how the Celtics treated their fan base, throwing games with the unfulfilled promise of a quick fix.
And now, officially, as their penance they are irrelevant. The Cannons await your call.