Banner 17 came as a result of several great acquisitions in the 2007 offseason. General Manager, Danny Ainge, first traded for Ray Allen on draft night. A month later he landed Kevin Garnett from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Ainge would then sign several key free agents: Eddie House, James Posey, P.J. Brown, all of whom played large parts in the Celtics’ success that year.
There is one arrival that season that is often overlooked, and perhaps the most vital addition of the year. That year Ubuntu was introduced into the locker room by Doc Rivers. Some of you may be unfamiliar with Ubuntu. What is it you ask?
Ubuntu is an African philosophy in which the individual sacrifices for the greater good of the group. In other words, it’s teamwork. Not that groundbreaking of an idea right? Well if you watch enough NBA basketball, you know that teamwork is a lot harder to find than it seems, and if you watched that Celtics’ championship run then you understand there was something special with that team. Rivers stressed the importance of coming together as one. It began with training camp it Italy, and transcended into an entire season.
The Celtics truly cared about one another that year and the team concept, allowing them to overcome individually led teams like the Lakers and Cavaliers. In the tunnel before games, the Celtics would end the pre-game rallying cry with “One, Two, Three, Ubuntu” and it was on display every night.
Posey and House would put their bodies on the line, consistently diving for loose balls or taking charges. Paul Pierce, Garnett, and Allen all saw their individual statistics decrease while the number of wins grew. They simply did it together, winning 66 regular season games which ultimately culminated in championship glory.
Ubuntu seemed to disappear for a few years before returning to full strength last season. An undermanned Celtics’ squad nearly managed to take down the now NBA champion, Miami Heat. Keyon Dooling, Ryan Hollins, Marquis Daniels and Greg Stiemsma embraced their roles off the bench, and the Celtics’ sideline actions could be showcased at a cheer-leading clinic.
Despite Garnett’s detest for playing the center position, he moved to the five spot because that is what was best for the team. Avery Bradley risked his future career by playing through constant shoulder injuries, at times having to pop his dislocated shoulder back into place during games. Things weren’t perfect though. Rondo and Allen are known to have butted heads on numerous occasions last season.
Now the newest edition of the Boston Celtics will need to learn the importance of Ubuntu. Catalysts Garnett and Pierce remain to teach the newest members the way, and several returning players bring continuity. Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Jared Sullinger and others all seem ready and willing to embrace Ubuntu.
The talent is undoubtedly there for the Celtics to make a run and while great teamwork doesn’t assure a championship, without it, winning a title is near impossible.
So with that said, “CELTICS…HOORAH..CELTICS…HOORAH, One, Two, Three…UBUNTU.”