After years of despair Celtics ready to stay on top

Chris Lotsbom

By Chris Lotsbom and Brian Merrigan

 “And the Celtics have dropped yet another one this year.  They have finished the 1996-97 season with an abysmal 15-67 record, taking 15th place in the Eastern Conference,” said the commentators after the Celtics’ final loss of the season. 

 Remember these years? Celtic followers recall the years of disappointment.  Think Len Bias’ post-draft overdose, Reggie Lewis’ collapse, Paul Pierce’s freak stabbing incident.  These and many other moments put the green into a deep depression where optimism was hard to find.  The 1996-97 team was the worst of the years, with only 15 wins.  To fans’ relief, the team now has luck on their side. 

   During the past twenty years, the Celtics had both good and bad teams, but even the good ended in disappointment.  Paul Pierce joined the Celtics in 1998 out of Kansas, a pick that could turn the franchise around.  Since 1998, he has seen many faces come and go.  People like Antoine Walker, Ricky Davis, Wally Szczerbiak, and Al Jefferson have all gone, leaving a trace of failure in the hearts of the diehard fans.  None of the four mentioned were able to bring glory back to Boston.  Included in the dormant years was a six year playoff drought from 1995 to 2001.  This drought began with the miserable 15 and 67 season, and ended with the sub-par 2001 season (34-46).  The Celtics hit rock bottom in 2006, having the second worst record in the league (24-58).  They supposedly had a “good” draft and were rebuilding, but they were only able to come up with 24 wins (in 2006).  There was talk about Pierce being traded and Doc Rivers being fired.  But, the Celtics’ General Manager Danny Ainge had a different idea for the franchise.

  Ainge went out and spent all that the team had.  Soon coming to Causeway Street were repeated All-Stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.  Later in the season, the team acquired key support off the bench in Sam Cassell and P.J. Brown.  These transactions are what ultimately guided the team back in the right direction.

  The days when skipping over the Celtics on television are thankfully over.  Now that the green are back in the thick of the elite in the NBA, we sit down and make sure to never miss a Pierce dunk or an Allen three.  When the C’s raised their first championship banner in 18 years on October 28, a new season began, one with the goal of a repeat championship

  Not since the days of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish have the Celtics had to be concerned with trying to reproduce a championship performance.  The Celtics have a good shot at defending their title as the big three of Garnett, Pierce, and Allen are all coming back, ready for more.