How did Bill Belichick win three Super Bowls? Because he had Tom Brady. True, but not the answer I'm looking for.
How did Gregg Popovich win five NBA championships? Tim Duncan. Yes, but there's more to it.
How did Joe Torre win four World Series titles? Mo Rivera. (He was a set up-guy for John Wetteland in 1996, the last year he wasn't the Yankee closer.) Of course, but try again.
A big reason that Belichick, Pop and Torre enjoyed the success they did was that each had a player who was respected, even feared, on their roster. A player who carried the coach’s message on his shoulders and set a good example for the rest of the team to follow.
For BB, it was Willie McGinest who was respected and, yes, feared . . . more than anyone on the roster. Willie Mac established the Patriot way. His locker was at the corner of the entrance from the field and every player had to go past him to and from practice or a game. If a rookie talked to the press too much, he got “THE LOOK” from Willie to shut it. If a player was late to a meeting, he heard about it. Rodney Harrison was five minutes late for his first meeting and Willie said to him, “Rodney, we do things different around here.”
Duncan has been a team player his entire career. Whenever Pop got on his butt, this superstar didn’t pout, call his agent, or get his coach fired. He got back on the floor and tried harder. That is a coach’s best asset: a superstar who accepts guidance.
Torre’s messenger was Derek Jeter, who 10 years ago tonight made the catch the sent Nomar packing. Was there ever going to be another Joe D or Mickey Mantle, we wondered? Yep: Jeter. It's hard to argue he hasn't been the perfect winner. The guy is so polite he'd send his overnight guests home with a flippin’ gift basket!
Why am I babbling about this?
Because Brad Stevens may have found his messenger in Marcus Smart.
KG, Paul and Ray carried the word for Doc. Marcus may do the same for Brad.
Celtic assistant Jay Larranaga told reporters today after a summer workout that Smart brought great energy to the floor. This is a guy who loves to play both ends of the floor and is what this team needs: a leader who sets the tone. Based on what we have seen and heard about Smart, he could be that guy. I hope he is, for Brad’s sake. Because there's no one else on this roster who could be . . . and that includes Rajon Rondo.