The day we all anticipated has already come and gone. The preseason has officially begun, and practice is now underway. Media Day is always the most exciting day in the early part of the season. We get to see the new players in Celtics uniforms for the first time, and we can get a feel for how optimistic the team is for this year.
Being at Media Day at the Celtics practice facility, I could feel a very positive and driven vibe. I could see the confidence in some of the players and unlike in some of the previous years, there really was a sense that this team knows they’re good and has the potential to go far.
Today was the first time I had ever seen Jason Collins, and while some fans may question whether he will be able to play good defense and grab rebounds, this guy is huge. He surely isn’t lacking height, that is certain. When standing next to Chris Wilcox, Collins was about two inches taller and is definitely a legit seven footer. Also, after seeing Fab Melo in person, I’m feeling very good about the Celtics front court. While Melo has a lot of work ahead of him, I could see him getting playing time early in the season. He doesn’t need to score, just rebound and play good defense.
One story that was circulating around the media was regarding Ray Allen. In one interview Kevin Garnett, when asked if he stills stays in contact with Allen, he responded saying that he doesn’t have his number anymore and hasn’t tried contacting him. Rajon Rondo was also asked similar questions, and I get the feeling that these guys just want to move on. I think as fans we have been beating a dead horse continually harping on Ray Allen going to Miami. The mentality was, he’s gone, let’s move forward.
Darko Milicic was officially signed today, and he will be wearing number 99 for the Celtics. I understand that Boston has almost every number from one to 33 retired, but I would love to ask where he came up with a number so high. It’s almost reminiscent to Scott Pollard back in 2007-2008 when he wore 66. Just for his sake, I hope Milicic does well here. When he was in Minnesota, he didn’t see eye-to-eye with Kevin Garnett, and that may have been due to his lack of effort. Hopefully this time, he understands what he needs to do and comes in with a great mindset.
As players like Jason Terry and Courtney Lee walked by, I couldn’t help but ponder that almost five months ago, the Celtics were on the verge of heading into a rebuilding period. It was said that if Garnett had retired, Paul Pierce would have contemplated the same. You can’t blame him. He doesn’t want to go through that again, and personally I don’t think he wanted to go to a contender if the Celtics were heading down the rebuilding path. This stage in his career, mentally it would take a toll on him, in both situations.
At the end of the day, this team already has the mentality that the journey begins now, and they have a mission to win the NBA championship. It’s amazing that, as we enter the sixth season in the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce era, the window of opportunity is still open. Danny Ainge once again has reloaded the team, and it never ceases to amaze me. He re-signs Brandon Bass, Chris Wilcox, and Jeff Green almost simultaneously; while acquiring Jason Terry and Courtney Lee.
This year also marks the ten year anniversary of when a group lead by Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca bought the team. What they have done to shape and mold this franchise is just incredible. They hired Danny Ainge who has been a mirror image of Red Auerbach, just in terms of how he acquires the players he does, and then Ainge hires Doc Rivers, who has been one of the greatest coaches in franchise history. We are very lucky to have such leadership, who even when things seem to be a bit leery, they always seem to be composed and under control.
This season is going to be exciting. We’re just a little over a month away from Opening Night in Miami and a week away from their first preseason game in Turkey. It will be great to cover the team as they will be on their journey for Banner 18.