"Larry Bird is not walking through that door, fans. Kevin McHale is not walking through that door, and Robert Parish is not walking through that door. And if you do expect them to walk through that door, they're going to be gray and old."—Rick Pitino
Rick Pitino is right. None of these Celtics legends will be walking through the door and none of them will be contributing to Boston's drive for "Green 17." For the first time in my life, I read that quote and said, "good!"
The Celtics new "Big Three," which consists of longtime Celtic Paul Pierce and newcomers Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, are three of the best of their time. These three All-Stars will each receive votes for the Hall of Fame. Before this season, all of them had something in common: They had all played for teams that had underachieved. This is the first time that Pierce, Garnett, and Allen are going to the Finals.
Pierce has become one of the greatest Celtics of all-time. He is a six-time All Star and has made the All-NBA Third Team three times in his career. He is second in team history in points per game, only behind Larry Bird. He holds the team record for most career three-point field goals and he is the only Celtic to lead the NBA in total points scored.
The one thing that has haunted Pierce was never making it to the "Promised Land." In 2002, Pierce and the Celtics made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, only to lose to the New Jersey Nets in six games. All that has changed now that the Celtics will make their first trip to the NBA Finals for the first time in 21 years.
Kevin Garnett is a former NBA MVP, the current Defensive Player of the Year, an 11-time All-Star, and has made the All-NBA First Team four times, the Second Team three times, and the Third Team twice. He is the only player in NBA history to record at least 20,000 points, 11,000 rebounds, 4,000 assists, 1,200 steals, and 1,500 blocks.
He, like Pierce, was on a team that did not perform up to its potential. Garnett got frustrated with the T'Wolves as they refused to go out and spend money on players to help him out. The Wolves brought in players such as Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell, but both left after only three seasons because of contract disputes. In the 2003-04 season, KG and the Wolves made it to the Western Conference Finals, and, like Pierce and the Celtics, lost the series, 4-2. Garnett will be making his first trip to the NBA Finals and hopes to bring an end to the Celtics championship drought.
Ray Allen is an eight-time NBA All Star, has made both the All-NBA Second Team and Third-Team once, and won the 2001 3-Point Shootout. In 2006, Allen moved into second place on the all-time list for three-pointers made, trailing only Reggie Miller. Later that year, Allen broke the NBA record for most three-pointers made in a single season.
Like Pierce and Garnett, Allen played for teams that came close to making it to the Finals, but just could not get the job done. Allen and the Bucks made it to the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2000-01 season, coming within one game of making it to the NBA Finals. They lost, 4-3, to the Philadelphia 76ers. After struggling for most of the playoffs, Allen has been hot of late, and hopes to continue his streak against the Lakers in the Finals.
The Celtics' Big Three have combined for zero Finals appearances. They have been three of the best players of this generation and look to add to their legacies.
They could all join the Celtics legends in the Hall of Fame someday. Pierce, Garnett, and Allen have been the cornerstones of their respective teams since Day One, and, now that they've combined forces, they need to continue their greatness for four more games.
Prediction: Celtics def. Lakers, 4-2