It has been 12 years since the Celtics won their 17th championship, their only title in the past three-plus decades. That has not stopped members from that team from conducting themselves as though they were part of a major, league-dominating dynasty. And for Celtics fans, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Lately, the team has been getting a lot of love. Game 4 of the 2008 Finals games against the Lakers was featured on ESPN on Wednesday and since there are no NBA games going on these days, that kind of nostalgia is on the rise.
Before the showing of that game, coach Doc Rivers, now with the Clippers, appeared on “Hoop Streams” with Kendrick Perkins, the starting center for those Celtics.
Perkins and Rivers discussed the intensity of that team–and the running argument Rivers had with star forward Kevin Garnett.
“Our practices,” Perkins said on the Hoop Streams show, “we literally came to blows with our second unit. When Doc said it was time to scrimmage, he’d have to call it off because we was going in it. I’ll tell you, our second unit was not backing down. I’m talking about we was in dog fights. Every practice, talking noise. We had a couple of altercations there.”
Garnett was, naturally, among the most intense. But, Perkins said, he was also the most willing to sacrifice for the sake of the team. Rivers said that Garnett was so unselfish, in fact, that the two would fight over whether he was shooting enough.
“That is so true with KG,” Rivers said. “Me and KG’s arguments were over him not shooting most of the time. If you remember, Perk, I would call a timeout and yell at KG and say, ‘I said move the ball!’ And he’d say, ‘Yeah, that’s what I am doing.’ And I’d say, ‘No, no, move it to you so you can shoot it not so you can pass it!’”
Group Text Keeps 2008 Celtics Close
The team certainly remains close, even after all this time.
An ESPN story this week discussed the survival of that text chain and the closeness of that championship team, even as Rivers and the players involved have gone off in very different directions.
“It’s the closest group I’ve ever been around,” Rivers told Jackie MacMullan. “It’s amazing how often we all still reach out when something great happens or even when things don’t go very well.
“There was a real family element to that group that I’ll always cherish. It was very special, how protective they were of each other. It’s what every coach would want to have for their team.”
Included on the text list are Rivers, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Perkins, Rajon Rondo, and Tony Allen.
Rivers Started Celtics Text on Christmas
MacMullan reported that there have been some bumps and hurt feelings throughout the relationship among those still texting. In fact, the whole thing started back in 2011 when the Celtics traded away Perkins to Oklahoma City in a deal for Nenad Krstic and Jeff Green.
Perkins, drafted out of high school by Boston in 2003, was upset by the trade.
“Yeah, I didn’t like that,” Perkins told ESPN. “I never wanted to leave those guys. Me and Doc didn’t talk for a while after that.”
The following Christmas, though, Rivers sent out the first text. It was just after the end of the NBA’s lockout and the league was opening with its first set of games. Rivers texted, simply, “Merry Christmas.”
Like Perkins, Allen also left the Celtics, as a free agent in 2010 after the Grizzlies made him a much better offer.
“His love for the guys, his affection for them and his loyalty really stand out,” Rivers said. “He was really hurt over the offer we made to him in free agency. I don’t think he wanted to ever leave.
“But, one by one, we all did.”
Indeed, as time passed, all those Celtics finished their careers elsewhere. Only Rondo, with the Lakers, and Rivers, coaching the Clippers, are still active in the league.