We said it before — if this were 2000 the Boston Celtics would be an unstoppable force. And yes, I know Rajon Rondo would have been 14 at the time, wouldn’t have mattered with Shaq, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in their primes.
But it is a decade later, and the Celtics have these guys at the end of their careers. Great careers. But that led to a great question yesterday from OG blogger Jeff Clark at Celtics Blog:
This presupposes a couple things. One is that Shaquille O’Neal will start a game or two for Boston. Jermaine O’Neal is the guy with the starting job, but I think it’s safe to assume (based on history and logic) that he is not going to start 82. A twisted ankle could keep him out for a week, the flu could have him out for a game. There is a good chance he will not play a game or three, and Shaq will get the call to start.
The other part is: Will all these guys make the Hall of Fame? Let’s go down the list.
Shaq: A given.
Garnett: A given.
Allen: Maybe not a first ballot guy, but it’s hard not to put him in. Nine-time All-Star and the best pure shooter of his generation. He has a ring now. Currently second all time in three point field goals made in league history, and he will likely pass Reggie Miller for the top spot later this season. Basketball-Reference puts together a formula rating a guy’s chances of making the hall, and Allen is at 90 percent chance of getting in. And that seems low to me.
Pierce: Some out there will say he was never really one of the most dominant players of his generation, but he was pretty close. He is an eight-time All-Star and has one finals MVP to his name (and a ring to go with it). He has been the face, the captain of the one of the league’s proudest franchises. Basketball-Reference gives him a 95 percent chance of induction.
Rajon Rondo: This is the big question mark, because it is far too early to tell. Rondo has the ring and has improved every year, but whether or not he makes the hall will be determined by his play after these other names step away in a couple years. The Celtics will become Rondo’s team, and that is when we will see if he is worthy of the honor.
The only team in recent memory to come close? The 2004 Lakers, who had Gary Payton at the point, Kobe Bryant, just inducted Karl Malone and Shaq. But they started Devean George at the three, and Rondo is closer to the hall than George.
Plus Boston is looking for a better end to the season than those Lakers.