Wednesday, August 1st, 2007 at 10:59 am  |  78 responses

One Big Three is not like the other.

Stop comparing the ’07-08 Celtics to the ’99 Rockets. Right now.

I get it. Really, I do. The Celtics have accumulated a collection of three All-Stars. So did the ’99 Houston Rockets. Said Rockets didn’t win anything (they flamed out in the first round of the playoffs to the Lakers), so some doom-and-gloom types are claiming that the Celtics may be headed down the same road. I beg to differ. (And I can do my points in bold, too!)

The Celtics aren’t that old.

The ’99 Rockets were ancient, with TONS of mileage on those legs. Scottie Pippen was the whippersnapper of the group at 33, and he was coming off six championship runs and an Olympic gold medal in eight seasons (adding the equivalent of another season), and both Charles Barkley and Hakeem Olajuwon were over 35. Ray Allen, the oldest of the Celtics trio, is 32. Paul Pierce doesn’t even turn 30 until October. And when was the last time any of these guys made a deep playoff run? All three of those guys are gonna feel a LOT younger come November 1st.

The Celtics should be way more motivated.

Of course Barkley wanted a championship real bad, but Pippen and Olajuwon already had eight rings between them. When it became readily apparent that the Chuckster was hopelessly out of shape (not that it prevented him from putting up his usual numbers), Pippen started sniping and the whole championship thing fell by the wayside. The Celtics should have no such problems. KG, Paul Pierce and Allen are all still seeking their first taste of an NBA Finals, and should have no problem combining their talents to get there. What, KG’s gonna want to get his numbers so he can finally get paid?

The Celtics three aren’t THAT unhealthy.

It’s been pointed out (by Mannix and others) that Ray Allen and Paul Pierce both missed a bunch of games last year. What hasn’t been pointed out is that the Sonics and the Celtics were both godawful. Somehow I think if either team was in the playoff race, both of those guys would have played in a LOT more games. Um, not that I’m saying the Sonics and Celtics were tanking in an attempt to get Greg Oden or Kevin Durant or anything.

Continuity, schmontinuity.

I’ve got one team for ya—the ’05-06 Miami Heat. It’s the EAST, for God’s sake. The Bulls have a lot of pieces, but they’re still young (and lacking a definitive go-to guy). The Pistons are a year older (and coming off two straight non-Finals appearances), and the Cavaliers have two fewer All-Stars and an equally thin bench. Why couldn’t the Celtics reach the Finals next year?

But…they can’t compete with the best of the West!

But…they only have to beat ONE Western team. After the Spurs and Suns and Mavs and Nuggets and whoever else are done kicking the crap out of each other, what if a well-rested and insanely motivated Celtics team is waiting for them in the Finals? Anything can happen. Anything at all.

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  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    You tell em Russ!

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Max Airington

    Word. I think these three have the attitudes to gel immediately. It wouldnt surprise me if they were in the gym together right now…

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones


  • Sanchez

    “What, KG’s gonna want to get his numbers so he can finally get paid?”

    Great line!! fair point too

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Also, it must be taken into account that the guy who wrote that SI column has an ass face.

  • Chou


  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    It would be nice to see them get a ring together but it will be real sad around here if they don’t. Green tears will be spilled by all the bandwagon jumpers if they don’t get it done. Maybe the site should switch to Celtic green text for the next year. Wasn’t it a short time ago that the Knicks/Eastern Confernce Finals talk was all the rage here too. Make up you minds already!!!!!

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Um, I’ve never even thought the Knicks would make the damn playoffs. These are MY THOUGHTS. Please don’t generalize. And I’m ride or die with the Bulls still (been on that train for 20-plus), no bandwagon jumping here. I’m just saying why CAN’T the C’s win a title next season? (But I ain’t gonna lie, KG is one of my favorite people in the League—I’d love to see him get a ring.)

  • Keith

    The Celtics have beceom instant contenders due to the Garnett trade but winning a chip? Hmmmm?..Naaaaaah.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    Russ, it wasn’t directed at you. (boy the SLAM guys are testy today). I read every column daily and when the Zach trade was made, post after post was written as to how the Knicks were making the huge move to the ECF’s. Not my words, other’s that post here. Sorry I didn’t clarify. God forbid anyone here makes a statement without being criticized.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    I agree that they’ll be very good. They just have to shore up their pg spot. Is Rondo really ready to play at a championship level? He’ll have to make the “leap” this year because if not its gonna be difficult. Unlike Miami with Wade and Cleveland with Lebron, even though those teams don’t have great pg’s both of those guys can bring the ball up and oftentimes like to bring the ball up. Pierce has never played like that not had Ray. Someone has to set up the offense, get them into their sets and make sure the right mismatches are exploited. They need to sign some guys to shore up the bench too but whatever if you’re fav team plays in the east, yesterdays trade made you sit up. The Celts went from nowhere to top 3.

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    cause everyone who’s a Heat fan now was always one……………..

  • http://iballforreal.blogspot.com Starchild

    A few additions to the bench and pg spot and the C’s will be way better than the ’06 Heat. Also, with a better coach. (sorry Doc)

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    I don’t see why Doc Rivers can’t coach this bunch. He did an outstanding job with the Magic (even though that seems like it was 50 years ago) and, as Lang pointed out, he was the point guard on a team loaded with talent and egos. In fact, he should activate himself and be player/coach.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    I don’t know about anyone else CoCo, but I’ve been rooting for those guys since year 2 of it’s existence when they were horrible, horrible, horrible. Kind of like this past years team.

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    I know you have White hot, but you know how it is with free agency and etc. Growing up I rooted for players moreso than just one team although I favored the Pistons cause I had a crush on Isiah. I can’t explain that. A lot of Fans root for players and they want them to do well wherever they play so yeah it will look like there are a lot of bandwagon Celtics fans but really there are a lot of KG fans who want him to win a ring. If that means rooting for the Celtics then so be it.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    It KILLED me when Jerry Krause broke up the Bulls, but I couldn’t imagine switching my allegiance to another team. No way. I’ll die a Bulls fan.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    Yeah, true, I love C-Webb and was hoping that he would have had the chnace to play for a title this year with the Pistons. Damn Lebron. And hey, catch a job with the Knicks and the Isiah fantasy could become a reality. :)

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Max Airington

    Its how I became a Laker fan.

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    Hahaha! There are rumors that he’s kinda touchy feely! I don’t have a crush on him anymore though. The only team I’ll be forever loyal to is the Yankees. My patience is wearing extremely thin with the Hawks! I can totally disregard the last 8 years I put into them.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    Russ, your bloodline with the Bulls can’t run as deep as mine then because that sh*t was UNFORGIVABLE to me. And I rooted for the Bulls 8 years pre MJ. Although, I like the Skiles led group they have now. And I was hoping they would get to the Finals this year once they stampeded the Heat. But now my son loves the Heat so I’m REALLY locked in. It’s hard changing a three year olds mind when he’s likin’ something.

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    When he’s six it’ll be easier, just hold on.

  • SA


  • tike

    Didnt the Lakers stack up too the one year with Karl Malone Gary Payton and a few other to help Kobe and Shaq?…..Also I kno Garnett’s a easy double double each night but the guy isnt really a threat in the paint im not going to sit here and give Boston anything just yet!

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Um, I don’t know about that white, since I’m still with ‘em. Players come and go (as do GMs, thankfully). And I’m still not quite ready to lay all the blame for the breakup at Krause’s door just yet (although I still haven’t quite forgiven him for trading Elton Brand for the pick that became Tyson freakin’ Chandler). But the Bulls are something for another post. I still have somewhat fond memories of the Granville Waiters era.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    Granvile Waiters and Dave Corzine. Two of the most imposing pivots of all-time.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    I was gonna mention that Laker squad, but the additions of Malone and Payton were more complementary in nature–that was undoubtedly Shaq and Kobe’s squad. (And I think they probably would have won a title if Malone hadn’t gotten hurt.)

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Max Airington

    How were either of you such big Bulls fans when neither of you could watch many Bulls games? Especially before MJ. There were no WGN games then. How many nationally televised games could they have had? Plus they REALLY sucked…

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Granville Waiters had the meanest bald spot in the NBA since World B. Free.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Jordan got me, man. Like ’85 or ’86. Watched the games I could, and I remember listening to some on the radio, even. Went and saw them play at the Garden, too, but that probably wasn’t until ’88.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    Max I was a huge Miami Dolphin too as a kid in NJ, and I usually saw 2 or 3 games a year (if I was lucky). Newspapers scores were a great form of info and stats back then. Does anyone still read those things? And yeah, they did suck, but I liked their colors, logo and Reggie Theus. Life was easy as an 8 year old.

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Max Airington

    Between frequent trips to Chicago Stadium and AJ’s I-XI, Michael Jordan made my life approximately 23% better. He deserves a statue in front of every stadium…

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    When I was a little girl it was all about NBA Inside Stuff on Saturday morning at 11. That’s a big reason for my fan crush on so many players growing up.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Didn’t simmons compare them to the 96-97 rockets?

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    Oh and Russ, I’m going the whole Michael Corlene route against Fredo when it come to the 2 Jerry’s. They are both in the boat ready to be targeted.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Yikes. I still think that Jordan, Pippen and Phil Jax weren’t entirely angels–and there was NO chance they would have gotten another good year out of Dennis Rodman.

    And Ben, while I try not to remember what Simmons writes, yes, he did. And that’s not an entirely apt comparison either, since Drexler and Olajuwon had already won a ring together, and once again all three primaries were older than any of the Celtics three.

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Since I haven’t really come close to supporting any team yet,I think this is a great bandwagon for me to jump on.Because of the whole Celtics thing.I’m still getting a Bassy T’Wolved jersey though

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Doesn’t Simmons also call himself the Sports Guy.I think that alone says that you should discared everything he says

  • k.o.

    u sold me with the bold headings. nice short piece.

  • http://getgarnett.com Reggie Evans

    Motivation is the key to the Celtics. Can’t remember the last time three All-Stars had so much to prove, and wanted to prove it.

  • D_vang

    yeah russ…a lot of people are doubting these 3 and talking as if they’re as old as dirt already. I keep tryin to tell everyone that if they actually look it up these 3 guys average over 70 games a season for their careers so not likely to miss a whole lot of time. guess we’ll just have to wait til next year when ‘big baby’ is doin some sorta funky ass dance on the stage for people to believe in these guys….haha…

  • JustMe

    The Kelts better get some Bruce Bowen types to complement Paper, Rock, Scissors: you know, defender + 3 pt shooter. I’m curious to see whether 3 allstars and 2 weak positions can hold against a deep balanced team like Spurs and the Wallace Pistons. (I confess I’m not so familiar with the balance of the team) Fatigue and depth matter.

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    I dont think it’s necessarily always about age as much as it’s about mileage. Like my lil car bless her heart, I got it in 2001 and I’ve put like 140,000 miles on her. Shes not in the best shape, but she isn’t dirt old either. People’s concerns are prolly more about that. K G has been in the league forever so he’s an old 30whatever he is.

  • HTown Schooler

    I’m not gonna bother to read all the comments to find this out, but the one thing i’d like to clear up is that the ‘big 3′ of the Rockets consisted of Hakeem, Clyde, and Charles Barkley, which started in 1996-1997 and ended when Clyde retired a couple years later. Scottie Pippen was just a one-year experiment gone bad. That’s all for now!

  • T with a J

    i’m a sixers fan and i think i can speak for like every team in the atlantic division when i say: F**K!!
    i was kind of excited about the new season after all the young guys for the sixers kicked ass in the summer leagues but now im sorry to say i have little faith after the bomb squad assembly in boston.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    The mileage on KG actually isn’t all that bad. Including regular season and playoffs, he’s played 37,539 NBA minutes. By comparison, Kobe Bryant has played 33,465. The difference is roughly 85 games (assuming a full 48 minutes per). And hey, Kareem played 66,297 minutes. So you never know. OK, that’s enough math from me.

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    I’m totally confused now Russ.

  • http://www.myspace.com/whyberickjames Jesus Shuttlesworth

    keeping track at home russ?

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    I should have never gotten into the whole numbers thing–it never goes well. Leave that stuff to John Hollinger.

  • backboard

    coco is a cutie

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    If you’re talkin about me backboard thanks!

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    This a really good day for Co Co

  • http://yahoo.com DP

    They will be a championship team if they get a decent point guard. There bench will be one of the worst in the L so they need to try and pick up some good free agents. All and all, they are going to be at least top 3 in the east. play wit it.

  • AJ$

    Thanx 4 da Nugs luv!

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    Yeah Izzo, this is shaping up to be the best birthday I’ve had all year! Haha

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    Izzo, yes she is, unless backboard is an on-line predator or worse, Don-a-gie in internet disquise.

  • backboard


  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    With all this Rockets stuff it’s obvious that the Celtics should hire Rudy T.


    the Melo, Iverson, K-Mart trio is better than this one.

  • BBaller

    Is Kenyon Martin fit and healthy for 07-08?

  • http://backcourtink.blogspot.com bootlace

    The Richardson,Wallace,Okafor trio is better than the Melo, Iverson, K-Mart trio.


    bootlace you got me on that one… but not really, even though the cats are my squad

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com/2007/07/27/the-irrelevance-of-cnn/ Joel O’s

    Yes. Finally a different opinion. Great points here, and objective ones at that, in this article. The best part of all of this is that the East has just gotten quite a bit more competitive; the last few years Detroit pretty much was a shoo-in to make the NBA Finals. With Lebron beating them, and the Celts on the rise, plus the Raptors hopefully improving on this year’s playoff disappointment, I think the East is gonna be relevant and a lot more exciting next year.

  • Danny

    Whoever the Celtics get at PG will decide how far this team will go. I say they should make a run at Sam-I-Am. He already knows Ray and KG and he can share the minutes with Rondo and TA.
    Another point: All three Stars (four, if you count Sam) should take 5-10 games off during the year, somewhere around the All Star break. At different times of course. It shouldn’t hurt their standings much and will have them fresh for the playoffs.

  • JG

    NICE POST. I was waiting for an EXPERT to say something good to say about the Celts…

  • Aussie Pride

    is every1 forgetting Franchise/T-Mac/Yao. Along with Skip, Battier, mike james and brad newly(Australia Represent)H-town could be a contender

  • Gilbert0

    i havent read all the comments but the mannix guy on si is hands down the worst bball writer i have ever read.

  • James

    Damn straight. This is the best viewpoint that I have read so far since the KG deal went down. Thanks for the Boston love.

  • Goody

    Okay then compare them to the 99 Houston Comets when their Big Three was Sheryl Swoopes, tina Thompson and Cynthia Cooper. Yeah try that out….

  • Ty

    Boston is back on da map in a real major way Thanks Kevin McHale indirectly.!?

  • Heri

    All I have to say is that if I was a Lakers fan, I would be greatly disappointed by the off-season moves so far.

  • Black SUperman

    WHat!!!! are you stupid??? how could you even compare the 08 celts to the 99 rockets??? celts gonna make it to the eastern finals that im sure of.. but they aint gonna win against the contenders of the west… bottom line nuff said

  • liam

    youre damn right……… all 3 of these guys are unselfish, loyal, veteran leaders, team players, play the right way, dominate in the flow of the game, love the game, leave it all on the floor, all 3 have been called an ironman at a point in their career (ray opened career with over 500 straight games without missing one….. paul went years without missing a game as has kg and ray)…….. all 3 are in great shape, all 3 have been top 10 for mvp (kg won it), all 3 took teams to division titles 50+ wins and conference finals, so theyve been close and have many accomplishments but are hungry as hell for that ring………. and all 3 had their best year ever when they were on their best/most successful team (kg-04, ray-01, paul-02)…. all 3 could have the best years of their career this coming year on the best/most talented team theyve ever been on EASILY! all 3 have came up big in big games, all 3 are elite at their position and fit perfectly on the court in terms of complementing each other and off the court in terms of chemistry, they are all high character guys……. theyre all veteran A+ all-nba superstar franchise players in their prime that are fiercely loyal without ego and want a ring more than anything in the world………… celtics fans are in for a treat cuz this team is gonna be a powerhouse and gonna be very SPECIAL for the next 4 or 5 years. THEY ARE GONNA BE SICK! could definitely win some rings.

  • liam

    oh yeah and theyre good passers and great allaround players/leaders as well.

  • liam

    even compared to the 96-97 rockets they wont be the ages that drexler, barkley, and dream were that season until their fourth season together. in their fourth year together ray will be 35 (like clyde was), kg will be 34 (like dream was), and pierce will be 33 (like barkley was)……….. at the end of their 4th season together they will be the same ages that those 96-97 rockets were at the end of their first season………… and that rockets team almost made the finals so looks like boston has a very bright next 4 years!!!

  • MTZ

    I think the Celtics Three V.2 are ready to go.

    They’ve got an All Star big man, 2 All Star wing players, 3 quality bench guys (Posey, House, TAllen) and talented, hungry youth (Perk, Rondo, Davis). Sounds like a decent mix to me.

    Like everyone else, I keep waiting for Ainge to sign a vet PG, though… Despite what he says, think he’s waiting for just the right guy. Someone that won’t bounce Rondo out of his starting spot, but can provide solid backup. I think they’re passing on T-Hud just for that reason (and he’s a shoot first PG, they have that in House already)

  • http://www.slamonline.com sjeezy

    all ur points russ i’ve heard, but the one that separates u from other writers is the fact that you said that they only have to play one team in the west if they make it that far

  • http://www.youtube.com/mandiixoxo Amanda

    Real Big 3:
    Tim Tony Manu