Greatest Moments of Doc Rivers-Era Boston Celtics

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistJune 23, 2013

Greatest Moments of Doc Rivers-Era Boston Celtics

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    After over a week of rumors and the deal cutting in and out at any given time, Doc Rivers has finally been traded from the Boston Celtics to the Los Angeles Clippers.

    According to ESPN, Rivers has reportedly been released from his deal with the Celtics and will be signing a three-year, $21 million deal with the Clippers, equal to what remained on his contract in Boston. In return, Boston will receive a first-round pick in 2015.

    Thus ends nine years of one of the most volatile periods in Celtics history, with plenty of questions remaining in the next few years.

    Through the ups and downs, Rivers and the Celtics went from traveling through a desert of mediocrity to winning a championship with just about everything in between, adding yet another chapter to the "How to Run a Basketball Team" manual.

    Before we start to look at what the Celtics are going to turn into under whichever free-agent head coach they nab, it seems necessary to take a look back first.

    From a 24-58 record to a 66-16 championship season the following year, Rivers has led the Celtics into some memorable battles, all making an impact on his legacy and writing another page in Boston's history.

Honorable Mention: Big Baby's Tongue Waggle

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    Doc Rivers had the pleasure of coaching one of the strangest players the Celtics have ever employed, and boy did Big Baby ever keep things interesting.

    Whether it be crying on the bench after getting a tongue-lashing from Kevin Garnett or insisting that people stop calling him Big Baby, there was never a dull moment.

    Of course, perhaps his most lasting legacy in a Celtics uniform was the unseemly way that he expressed his excitement during the Eastern Conference Finals back in 2010.

    This gives me goosebumps every time I see it...bad goosebumps.

10. Brian Scalabrine's Championship Interview

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    Boston's 2008 championship season represented the most amazing turnaround in NBA history, going from a meager 24 wins in 2007 to 66 in 2008.

    Some like to credit the addition of Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett for that championship run, but sometimes continuity plays a big part as well.

    Obviously, the continuity we're talking about here is Brian Scalabrine's presence on the team from 2005 through until 2010.

    Scal's shining moment came after the Celtics took home that title in 2008, putting together the single greatest postgame interview in the history of the NBA.

    The White Mamba got in a bit of trash talk while still sounding like a guy who didn't play in a single game during the postseason.

9. Packing Away Perkins

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    While controversial at the time, the Boston Celtics and Danny Ainge traded away Kendrick Perkins at the hight of his value.

    Sure, the Celtics had never lost a series with their optimal starting lineup, which included Perkins at center next to Kevin Garnett, but his demise came about quickly following the trade.

    Perkins was there for the 2008 championship, he stuck around for the Celtics loss in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2009, and who knows, if he played all of Game 7 against the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2010 NBA Finals, maybe the Celtics would have won a second title and his trade never would've been the following season.

    Unfortunately for Perk, that injury-plagued season that followed—along with the Oklahoma City Thunder's desperate reach for a center—turned into what now seems to be a no-brainer of a trade for the Celtics.

    Not only did they get Jeff Green in the deal, who looks to be a big part of the team's rebuild, but they grabbed a pick that turned into Fab Melo in last year's draft. What he turns into remains to be seen, but they're much better off today with those two under contract rather than Perkins.

8. 6-of-24 Jokes

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    The Boston Celtics lost Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals in what was a slow-paced slog of an affair, the Lakers winning despite shooting just 32.5 percent from the floor.

    In the end, it was Pau Gasol who won the game for the Lakers, grabbing 18 rebounds (nine of which were offensive) and giving Los Angeles second chance after second chance. Even more fun, the Celtics lost, but they lost in a game where Kobe Bryant completely dropped the ball, scoring his 23 points on 24 shots.

    While I've never been one to rag on Kobe for no good reason, it was fun to make 6-of-24 jokes over the course of the next few months. Credit is due to the Lakers for winning that title, but boy was Bryant ever a miserable shooter in that series.

    Whenever there's a little bit of ammunition to throw at overzealous Lakers fans, there's something positive to take away.

7. Celtics Fans Are Pretty Darn Cool

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    2012 was an interesting year for the NBA, with a ton of footnotes necessary to really understand what happened near the end of the year.

    To put it simply, the Celtics may have made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, but it never really seemed like they were a game away from the NBA Finals, even if they won three of seven games.

    Philadelphia took them to seven painfully low-scoring games in the semifinals, a series that you would have to imagine the Chicago Bulls would have won if Derrick Rose didn't tear his ACL at the beginning of the playoffs.

    Nonetheless, Boston found themselves in a game that could have sent them to the NBA Finals—all they needed was one win in two games, the first of which was at home. As we all know, LeBron James had to screw things up and score 45 points en route to a 19-point Miami win in Game 6.

    The game was over, Boston was dead in the water going back to Miami, but the fans in Boston took the final minute of the game (and a solid four minutes total) to serenade their boys with a "Let's go Celtics!" chant.

    Celtics fans can be overzealous and a bit too intense at times that don't call for it, but moments like this remind you that they can be one of the greatest fanbases in sports.

6. 2008 Eastern Conference Semifinals

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    Standing in their way at the 2008 conference semifinals was LeBron James, fresh off the first scoring title of his career, and the reigning Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

    The series went to seven terrific games, the home team winning each, but it was Game 7 that was the biggest show of the series. James was held to just 12 points and had 10 turnovers in the series opener, but scored 21 over the next three, followed by racking up 67 total points in Games 5 and 6.

    He was figuring out how to score on the best defense in the league, and the Cavaliers were figuring out how to win. Lucky for the Celtics, Paul Pierce was on his game just as much as LeBron was coming into Game 7, the two set to collide.

    They lived up to the hype, LeBron scoring 45 and Pierce scoring 41 in what remains the best duel between the two to date. All I can hope for is that the two have one more final battle left before Pierce hangs up his sneaks for good.

5. 2009's First-Round Series vs. Chicago

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    After the Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets battled to a seven-game decision in the first round of this year's playoffs, it seems to be an apt conclusion that they have a thing for being involved in stellar opening-round series.

    Of course, Chicago's most famous has to be in 2009 against Doc Rivers' Celtics, the series climbing up to seven games as Derrick Rose displayed some massive playmaking ability in his first playoff appearance.

    Chicago seemed to be borderline pushovers, coming into the playoffs at 41-41 and facing off against the defending champion Celtics. However, Chicago took Game 1 on the back of Derrick Rose's 36 points and 11 assists, and four big overtime points from Tyrus Thomas, obviously.

    Boston came back and won the next two, followed by the Bulls winning two of the next three to force a seventh game. Oh, and those three games went into double-, single and triple-overtime, respectively.

    The Celtics showed the young club who's boss with a 10-point win, finishing up one of the most exciting series in recent memory.

4. Stealing Rajon Rondo

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    Following a trade with the Lakers to help the Lakers clear a bit of cap space, Boston actually held the pick that would land them Rajon Rondo back in 2004.

    However, they traded it to Atlanta, getting the C's another half-season of Antoine Walker. The Hawks then flipped the pick to Phoenix in the Joe Johnson deal. Phoenix selected Rondo in the 2006 draft, but they already had this guy named Steve Nash playing point guard and a solid group of backups in Eddie House and Leandro Barbosa.

    So, Phoenix shipped that pick back to Boston along with Brian Grant, getting a 2007 first-rounder in return, which turned out to be Rudy Fernandez. Interestingly enough, Phoenix gave that pick to Portland (along with James Jones) the next season for some cash.

    Essentially, Phoenix traded Rajon Rondo, Brian Grant, Rudy Fernandez and James Jones for some dinero. They didn't just get hosed in those successive deals, Phoenix got absolutely beaten to a pulp.


3. Game 4, 2008 Finals

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    Boston was down by 14 points with five minutes to go in the first quarter of Game 4 against the Los Angeles Lakers in the '08 finals. By the end of that quarter, Los Angeles had added another seven points to that lead.

    That lead would get to 24 points with five minutes to go in the second quarter before the Celtics ever showed signs of life. The Lakers, though, still held an 18-point halftime lead. The Celtics were up 2-1 at that point in the series, and it looked as if the Lakers were going to tie things up in Boston. 

    However, before the third quarter had ended, somewhere along the way Paul Pierce, Eddie House and Ray Allen turned the small buzz in the crowd into an explosive crescendo, the lead just two as the third quarter ended.

    At that point, the fourth seemed like a foregone conclusion—there was no way the Lakers could stop the freight train.

    Leon Powe tied the game for the first time since, 28 seconds into the game, it was 2-2 and the Celtics finally took the lead on a House jumper a few minutes later, saving the Boston mob from being enraged drunks and turning them all into elated drunks.

2. The 2007 Draft

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    Nobody the Celtics drafted on June 28 back in 2007 stayed on the team (though Jeff Green would make his way back a few years later), but it was the most important date in Celtics history since they drafted Larry Bird.

    Green, fresh off his pick at fifth overall, was shipped along with Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak to Seattle for Ray Allen and Big Baby, whom the Supersonics had drafted in the second round. With that deal done, Boston was officially open for business, ready to make another deal at the end of July.

    Of course, that one brought Kevin Garnett in exchange for Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Theo Ratliff, Bassy Telfair and two first-round picks.

    Boston won 66 games the following season and absolutely tore the league apart.

1. Anything Is Possssiiiiiiibbbbbllllleeeeeee!

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    Obviously the most memorable moment in Doc's tenure as the Celtics head coach is the team winning a championship just a year after they won the sixth-fewest game in franchise history.

    The media had started to turn on Rivers (perhaps rightfully so) as their young players had failed to develop, and Danny Ainge turned around and perhaps added another half-decade to his time with the organization (along with making him one very rich man).

    You know the story from here: Boston won a bundle of games; signed Sam Cassell in March to sit on the bench and go crazy; squeezed by Atlanta, Cleveland and Detroit; and absolutely throttled the Lakers in the NBA Finals clincher,131-92, leading to Kevin Garnett's emotional explosion just a few minutes later.

    It was just one championship in Doc Rivers' nine seasons, but it was definitely a memorable one.


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