If the Boston Celtics' Starting Five Played for the Boston Red Sox
Nothing distracts fans of an under-performing team like another local team in a different sport vying for a championship.
While Boston Red Sox fans continue to rue an up-and-down season filled with injuries, clubhouse drama and the inability to rise above the AL East cellar, they are simultaneously—and happily—watching the Celtics make one last push for another NBA title in the Big Three era.
If only there was a way for the Celtics’ championship mojo to rub off on their baseball counterparts.
Which begs the question: If the Celtics’ starting five were members of the Red Sox, what positions would they play? Better yet, who are their BoSox doppelgangers—past or present?
Brandon Bass: Cody Ross
Dexterity is not what you would expect from the 6' 8", 250-pound forward out of LSU or any everyman-looking guy like “The Boss.” Yet, each player has a soft touch.
Bass has a feathery stroke from 16-18 feet (he’s a 49.3 percent shooter for his career) and at the charity stripe (82.4 percent). He used both of those attributes en route to a 27-point performance in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the 76ers.
Don’t let that fool you into thinking Bass won’t play physically. He averaged more than six rebounds a game this past regular season while playing 32 minutes a contest.
Ross’s name, meanwhile, was made from the big hits he racked up during the Giants’ run to the 2010 World Series title. But he’s also a very solid outfielder, capable of chasing down balls in left and right and making strong throws back to the infield.
Every team in the NBA needs a Brandon Bass—just like every major league team needs a Cody Ross.
Ray Allen: Pedro Martinez
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At the height of their games, they were so smooth and made everything look so easy.
Allen has one of the most divine jump shots in NBA history, and not just because he's played Jesus (Shuttlesworth) before. Including the playoffs, he’s made more than 3,000 three-pointers in the NBA. And it’s not by volume shooting either—he’s 40 percent from long-distance for his career.
He’s also one of the smoothest athletes off the court in recent memory. How many athletes do you know who play the piano and collect art?
Petey was so dominant for so long during his Red Sox tenure that Boston fans grew restless at the smallest display of mortality. He went a mind-boggling 117–37 in seven seasons with the Sox. In only one of his six full seasons in Boston—he spent much of 2001 on the DL—did his ERA exceed 3.00.
And nearly two decades after their heyday, Pedro made jheri curls look good. No less an authority that this website says he has one of the 10 best sets in sports history.
Rajon Rondo: Orlando Cabrera
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Two savants when it comes to less glorious, but nonetheless important, aspects of their respective sports.
Rondo is one of the best passing point guards in the NBA. His tap-out assist to Mickael Pietrus in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals was a more on-the-money pass than some players can throw.
Cabrera was a defensive wizard at shortstop, a two-time Gold Glove winner in 2001 and 2007 who provided stability for a shaky Boston infield upon his acquisition at the 2004 trade deadline.
When both players had to, they also stepped up to become offensive forces. Rondo’s 44-point effort in a Game 2 loss—he also had eight assists and 10 rebounds—was one of the most impressive postseason performances in Celtics history, no small feat for a franchise with 17 NBA championships.
Cabrera hit .294 with six home runs and 31 RBI in 58 regular season games for the Sox. He carried over his surprise production with the bat to the playoffs, when his bases-clearing double in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Angels put that game away.
Kevin Garnett: Kevin Youkilis
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They have the same first name. Duh.
Aside from that obvious similarity, Garnett and Youkilis are the emotional leaders for their teams.
It’s Garnett who sets the defensive intensity for his team, whether it’s swatting away shot attempts that come after the whistle or chewing out his own teammates to the point of tears.
That in-your-face attitude gets on the nerves of opposing teams and fans—Boston folks love it though—is a product of Garnett and the pride he takes in his craft. (He’s a professional!)
On the diamond, “The Greek God of Walks” is one of the most outwardly emotional players in baseball. Each at-bat that doesn’t end with him getting on base looks like the end of the world to him. Like Garnett, Youkilis also has a penchant for memorably awkward postgame celebrations.
That intensity and pride has guided Garnett and Youkilis through periods where injuries have slowed them down. But you can be sure they’ll make their presence felt when healthy enough to contribute.
Paul Pierce: Jim Rice
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Their superstardom often falls by the wayside either in comparison to contemporaries (Pierce) or Boston legends of old (Rice).
But when you look at their careers, you see Hall of Fame-worthy resumes.
Pierce is a 10-time All-Star, four-time All-NBA team selection and the 2008 NBA Finals MVP. He is one of only three Celtics—along with luminaries Larry Bird and John Havlicek—with 20,000-plus points in his Boston career.
He doesn’t get nearly enough credit for being one of the league’s clutch performers. Anybody who has watched “The Truth” before wasn’t the least bit surprised by his three-pointer in LeBron James’s face down the stretch of Game 5.
During his lone MVP season in 1978, Rice became the only major league player to lead the league in home runs (46), RBI (139) and triples (15) in the same season. He was just as feared a player nearly a decade later in 1986, when he batted .324 with 110 RBI and 200 hits in leading the Red Sox to the World Series.
Only nine other retired players rank ahead of him in both career home runs (382) and batting average (.298), yet Rice wasn’t inducted into the Hall of Fame until his 15th and final ballot.
When Pierce’s playing days are over, fans will look back on his career the same way they see Rice’s now—one filled with greatness that’s not truly appreciated until he’s gone.