Exactly a decade ago, the first modern-day NBA superteam was created.
Danny Ainge established his reputation as one of the best executives in the league after he flipped their entire roster (Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, Jeff Green, Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West) for two future Hall of Famers, to form the second coming of the Boston 'Big Three.' Only instead of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, the Celtic revival featured Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
Superstar alliances have been mostly frowned upon in recent memory, with the reigning champions, the Golden State Warriors, serving as the prime example. Before Kevin Durant and his new teammates were touted as the league's ultimate villains, the Miami Heat held the title after LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade.
A couple of years after the South Beach migration, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash teaming up with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol in Los Angeles didn't quite catch the fancy of basketball fans but only brought back memories of the ambitious 2003-04 Lakers.
The 2007-08 Celtics squad was different. Maybe it has something to do with how storied the franchise is, but almost every hoops aficionado wholeheartedly rooted for Garnett, Allen, Pierce and their unlikely band of misfits to win it all that season.
Maybe because unlike the 2012-13 Lakers, Boston had the right kind of motivation. The mind of Nash may be focused on getting that elusive ring, but his body can't ignore the 16-year grind (physical). The City of Angels didn't seem to have learned from its acquisition of Karl Malone and Gary Payton's washed-up versions. Howard, on the other hand, didn't look like he had fully recovered from his ugly breakup with the Orlando Magic (emotional).
Allen, Pierce, and Garnett simply had their eyes on the goal, even if it meant sacrificing their individual numbers (Dip in points per game, respectively: 26.4 to 17.4, 25 to 19.6, and 22.4 to 18.8). The trio buying into coach Doc Rivers' system was reflected on their collective play, which benefited the other starters (Kendrick Perkins, Rajon Rondo) and the rest of the bench (Eddie House, James Posey, Leon Powe, etc.).
Maybe because unlike the 2010-11 Heat, Boston kept the hype to a minimum. No 'The Decision,' no bombastic introduction, no conceited proclamation (Remember "Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven"?). The Celtics Big Three was all business from the get-go and rightfully delivered in their first season together.
Maybe because unlike the 2016-17 Warriors, Boston's situation was the polar opposite. There is no other way to say it: Durant joined the team that his Oklahoma City Thunder (55-27) almost beat in the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors were champions the year before, while the Thunder had another Top-5 player in Russell Westbrook and a promising core aside from KD.
The one-man teams that Garnett and Allen had left didn't look anywhere near those two perennial contenders—the Minnesota Timberwolves (32-50) and the Seattle Supersonics (31-51) were basically cellar dwellers in their last seasons. Pierce's Celtics (24-58) weren't any better.
At the end of the day, though, the Boston Big Three's appeal lies in how they defined the team makeup. Pierce was the poster boy of the organization, Garnett represented their heart and grit, and Allen embodied the well-oiled mean, green machine. There was no doubt that these Celtics were the pioneer of the superteam trend; only they did things the right way.
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