The players and coaches of the Celtics team that won a title in 2008 and contended for a few years afterward pretended as though there was a bond in place that was more special than it was anywhere else.
But once the business side of things began to take precedent over the basketball side, things changed.
Ray Allen was the subject of multiple trade rumors leading up to his decision to leave the Celtics and join the Miami Heat in the summer of 2012. He had no guarantees from the front office as to what his future would be in Boston, and perhaps seeing the writing on the wall that the Celtics’ window to win another title had already slammed shut, he hopped onto the roster of the defending champs.
That didn’t sit well with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, who wanted to keep the band together for one more tour. And they still apparently haven’t forgiven Allen for his decision, even now that more than an entire season has passed.
From Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald:
“They haven’t spoken to me,” Allen said before last night’s game against what remained of his former team. Allen played 24 minutes and had five points with three assists as the Celtics stunned the defending champion Heat, 111-110. …
“For them to be so upset with me is disappointing because of how everything happened,” Allen said. “That banner in 2008 is still going to be there, and we’re still going to be tied to it.
“Look, I have a feeling they were in the same predicament I was in this summer. Even with Doc (Rivers), he had to make a decision that was best for himself. I was in the same situation. I’m happy they were put into the same situation as I was. Anytime you get traded there’s no telling where you could end up. They’re in a situation now where they can contend. Kevin had to make that decision, and that was the predicament I was in.”
The whole thing seems fairly hypocritical of Pierce and Garnett now that they’ve also left Boston, albeit via trade instead. But Garnett had to waive his no-trade clause to go, so one could easily argue that he chose to leave, as well.
Then there’s Doc Rivers, of course, who forced his way out of Boston to coach the Clippers after admitting to not wanting to stick around for the rebuilding process — even after he signed a contract extension in 2011 that he knew would take him well past a point where the core players at the time would still be playing at a level where competing for a title was possible.
Maybe that bond wasn’t so special after all.