Players and coaches met yesterday at the Waltham practice facility.
The Game Seven loss had finally sunk in.
According to Boston
.com the Celtics
had a brief team meeting and then departed.
Paul Pierce promised reporters that he would communicate via text message this week. Rondo sent the following text, "All we can do is get ready for next year, really. That's it. That's in the past. We gotta' look toward next year."
Brian Scalabrine stuck around to chat, saying, "it finally sunk in."
Scalabrine continued, "I know one thing: we are going to be geared up to win a championship, no matter who is on the team. We are not going to be playing just to make it. We are going to be playing to win a championship. We are a championship team, we have a window of opportunity, and we need to take advantage of that."
The much discussed Celtics "window of opportunity" that Scalabrine refers to, seems to be on every ones mind in the sporting world.
Boston fans, having watched the tragic dissolution of the 1980's championship teams, are extremely aware of father times "closing window."
In 1991, Arguably the original "Big Three's" last truly competitive season, the team's record was 56-26. Boston finished that year first in the Atlantic Division and second in the Eastern Conference.
With the injury plagued "Bad Boy" Pistons
losing their two year grasp on the Eastern Conference and the Chicago Bulls
having not been to the NBA Finals, it looked like a perfect year for the fabled Celtics to make one last run.
The Celtics had rebooted their line up after a disappointing first round loss to the Knicks
the previous season. The front office released the legendary Dennis Johnson, the tired Jim Paxon and terminated head coach Jimmy Rogers.
Boston had promoted former player and long time assistant Chris Ford to head coach. They took second year point guard Brian Shaw to court requiring him to return to Boston for the '90-'91 season.
Larry Bird and company were publicly skeptical of a team that featured a new starting point guard for the first time in seven years. The skeptics were quickly put to rest as Boston started the season 25-5 while steam rolling over opponents.
After several arduous seasons, Bird, Parish and McHale finally had a supporting staff of emerging, young stars. Reggie Lewis (18.7 points per game) led the way for point guards Brian Shaw and Rookie Dee Brown to employ a faster style of play. The new look Celtics were the perfect combination of youth and veteran experience.
It wasn't until a game right before the All-Star break at Madison Square Garden that the Celtics boom had suddenly come to a crashing halt. Larry Bird did not make the trip, hospitalized with back spasms. Though Bird's basketball IQ never diminished, his shooting range, and durability never returned.
Soon after the All-Star break, Kevin McHale went down with a heavily sprained ankle. McHale played two more seasons as a limited role player but was never the same after his 1991 injury.
That season Larry Bird averaged 19.4 points per game, 45 percent field goal percentage (both career lows), while missing 22 games with a debilitating back injury that offseason surgery couldn't remedy. Larry was 34 years old.
Kevin McHale averaged 18 points per game (his lowest in seven seasons) while missing 14 games.
McHale also underwent offseason surgery but his foot would never fully mend. Kevin was 33 years old.
Robert Parish, indubitably the most durable of the three, averaged 15 points per game at 37 years of age while playing an incredible 80 games.
Parish and Reggie Lewis kept Boston competitive in 1991 but seamlessly, age and injuries slammed the "window" shut on the "Original Big Three's" reign of titles.
In a cruel twist of fate, Magic Johnson would lead his Los Angeles Lakers
to the NBA Finals for the final time that year losing to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. The torch had been passed.
When the 2009-2010 season begins, it will have been 19 years since the 1991 season. Today's Celtics seem to be discussing this familiar "window of opportunity."
Today, Eddie House (30 years old) put it best when saying, "Everything we did was for nothing. We came up short, also-rans. We lost, bottom line. We expected to win with what we have, regardless of injury and all that stuff."
House continued, "All that's behind us. At the end of the day we didn't get it done, so it's a failed season."
Kevin Garnett turns 33 today (Happy Birthday big fella), Ray Allen will soon be 34 and Paul Pierce is turning 32 in October.
If anything can be learned from the past it is that the window is closing, now is the time.