The Boston Celtics capped one of the greatest back-to-back season turnaround in NBA history last season by winning an unprecidented 17th Championship with their impressive six game dismissal of the highly rated Los Angeles Lakers.
By now, we are all familiar with the two big acquisitions made around this time twelve months ago that helped transform this dwindling franchise back into one of the most exciting and talent-laden teams around -- a return to the form like that from the 50s till 1986, when the Celtics last won it all prior to this year.
So where do they go from here?
Well the logical assumption is they've got a pretty legitimate shot at repeating next year; but is the management, led by last years' mastermind GM Danny Ainge, team owner Wycliffe Grousbeck and the likeable hard-noised coach Doc Rivers, about to let it all slip away?
I have two words for you: James Posey.
James Posey was a vital component to the teams success last year. When the Celtics big-three of Pierce, Garnett and Allen lost focus or drive, he stepped in off the bench time and time again and played with a tenacity and exuberance that led to Jeff Van Gundy -- the tell-it-like-it-is sports broadcaster and possibly one of the most underrated NBA head-coaches of the modern era -- to herald to the world that if he was coaching again, to "give me (him) James Posey"!
That is a sentiment that many NBA teams share including the highly popular and up and coming New Orleans Hornetts team who are widely rumored to be the front runners in acquiring the unrestricted free agent's services for the next few years.
It was initially reported that Posey wanted to resign with the champs for a long term deal at around the mid-level exception (approximately $5.8 Million per season) earlier in the off-season. Instead, the Celtics went out and made a very publicized offer of their entire mid-level exception to the newly (at the time) unrestricted free-agent, Corey Maggette.
As the teams only have one mid-level exception to offer, this left James Posey, a heart-and-soul kind of player, out in the cold. While Maggette may be more of an offensive weapon than Posey, he has virtually no defensive prowess, which was Boston's preached key to success last season.
And why did the team need more offensive firepower in the first place? Granted, starting point guard Rajon Rando and center Kendrick Perkins have serviceable skills only on rare occasions, but for their entire careers, Pierce, Garnett and Allen are among the most potent scorers at their respective positions of all time, combining for roughly 70 points per game.
I'm sorry, but no matter how talented the rest of the team are in other aspects of the game -- mainly defensive -- if their offensive game is so anemic that between 7 or 8 guys they can't come up with 20 or so points a game, should they really be in the NBA?
So where does that leave the current champs? Well, Maggette's taken the money and ran, signing a highly lucrative deal with the Golden State Warriors; and now that they've made it publicly known that Posey was definitely their second choice, Boston is stuck with trying to woo back the star player whose intensity and physical and mental toughness could inspire any team he's on.
And what of the rest of the team? Garnett, Pierce and Allen, unquestionably some of the greatest players to lace up the kicks and hit the hardwood, who are praised for their passion and desire to win now have a championship.
Will they still have the fire to play every second of every game with the heart, soul and the obvious skill required to win it all? Or will the phases they seem to go through where they become complacent -- which can be witnessed by all if they go back and watch the coverage from this year's finals -- begin to get longer and more frequent without a firecracker like James Posey coming in off the bench to give his team that spark when it's needed; to lift a clearly talented team beyond all others come the month of June next year.