Celtics' Big Three leaves lasting impact on NBA

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Celtics' Big Three leaves lasting impact on NBA

BOSTON When Danny Ainge pulled off the blockbuster draft-night trade in 2007 for Ray Allen, and followed that up with one of the more lopsided NBA deals of the past decade in acquiring Kevin Garnett from Minnesota, Big Three 2.0 in Boston was alive and well.

Allen, Garnett and the captain Paul Pierce, were three stars that for years shined brightly in their own little basketball worlds, only to come together and establish themselves as a three-headed monster of the likes the league hadn't seen in years.

From the beginning, they would inevitably be compared to the original Big Three in Boston: Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish.

It made sense for a lot of reasons, one of which was that both won an NBA title in their first season together.

Thats when the two go their separate ways.

While the Bird-led Celtics played about a decade together before injuries became a major issue, the most recent Big Three incarnation began to get hit by the injury bug in their second year together, prompting many -- including head coach Doc Rivers -- to play the ''what if' game.

Kevin Garnett, the defensive anchor and emotional catalyst from the moment he arrived, suffered a knee injury that would sideline him for 25 regular season games and the entire postseason of the 2008-09 season, which ended with the Cs getting bounced in the second round by Orlando.

They would get back to the NBA Finals in 2010, only to lose in seven games to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Bostons season has ended at the hands of the latest Big Three power, Miami, each of the last two seasons.

"I would have loved to have seen this team in this whole stretch where Kevin was injury-free," Rivers said.

Still, there's no knocking the team's five-year run as being an impressive one.

Five Atlantic Division titles
A winning percentage of 69.3 (273-121)
Two trips to the NBA Finals (2008, 2010)
One NBA title (2008)

If you go by the sheer numbers, the Bird-led Big Three still had a better run when you consider the categories that matter most winning percentage (70.1), trips to the NBA Finals (five) and most important, NBA titles (three).

And while some might argue that the Big Three of the 1980s spent more years together and thus would have more success, consider this: If you went by the first five years of the Big Three era of the 1980s, it would be even more lopsided statistically.

In their first five seasons together, Bird, McHale and Parish won 74.6 percent of their regular season games, with three trips to the NBA Finals and a pair of NBA titles (1981, 1984).

As much as Allen takes pride in what he and his Big Three cohorts did in the past five seasons, he knows which trio had a better run.

"We have definitely fallen short," Allen said. "But we've gone out trying to play as hard as we can every night."

Whatever this current Big Three lacked in terms of wins and championships, they more than made up for it with the impact that they made on the entire NBA.

Since joining forces in 2007, it seemed to have sparked the notion that attempting to bring three superstars together instead of the customary one or two, could indeed bring you a championship.

It worked in Boston, why couldn't it work elsewhere?

That was clearly the mindset of the Miami Heat when they spent years planning for the 2010 free agency period where they were determined to build a roster around three of the game's elite players.

They're still in search of that elusive title with their Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

But they're only in their second season together, and each season has included a trip to the NBA Finals.

Last season, they lost in the Finals to the Dallas Mavericks.

Now they're facing an Oklahoma City team that, like the Heat, have three stars that are central to the team's success. The Thunder are led by NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant, All-Star Russell Westbrook and super-sub James Harden.

So to put the Bird-McHale-Parish trio on a higher pedestal than this most recent triumvirate of Celtics superstars, is understandable.

They won more games and had more titles.

But that shouldn't dismiss what this current group has done.

They may not have been as successful as their Big Three predecessors, but their impact both on the Celtics franchise and the league as a whole, is undeniable.

Need proof? Look no further than Game 1 of tonight's NBA Finals.

It doesn't matter which team you pull for. The Boston Celtics' Big Three imprint is there.

What makes a good manager? Rangers GM Jon Daniels explains

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What makes a good manager? Rangers GM Jon Daniels explains

Across the way from John Farrell in the Rangers dugout this series is a manager who was voted the American League’s best in his first year at the helm, 2015.

Jeff Banister is one of three full-time skippers Rangers president Jon Daniels has had in his time running the Rangers.

Much has been made about how Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski views the manager’s job: that in-game management isn’t the most important, but running the clubhouse is.

How does another top baseball exec look at it? Daniels explained on the CSNNE Baseball Show podcast.

“I think manager’s an enormous role,” Daniels said. “Huge importance, I don’t buy into any of the sort of snarky commentary. … What I think sometimes gets a little blown out of proportions, at times whether it’s lineup construction, some of those — the in-game stuff, bullpen management’s very real. 

“Certainly the knowledge of the game is big. I think the ability to teach the game is big. But the No. 1 separator, in my opinion, is managing people. It’s really the word ‘manager.’ Helping to mold the culture in the clubhouse. Getting everybody on the same page. Young players, older players, everybody’s got different self-interests and to be able to get all those unique self-interests enough on the same page for a common goal while representing the club publicly, with the media, with the fans, and doing it under a pretty intense spotlight — I think that’s the biggest piece. Probably the hardest to truly evaluate unless you’re like, in the clubhouse or around the clubhouse on a daily basis and have a sense for who’s good at it, who’s not. That for me is like where guys really separate themselves.”

Asked if he’s ever surprised by player sensitivity, Daniels underscored what stage of life most ballplayers are in.

“Everybody’s different, right?” Daniels said. “So everyone has different insecurities, everyone has different level of ego, grown up in different circumstances. At the end of the day everybody wants a few basic things. You want to be like kind of communicated on a pretty forthright, direct way. You want to be treated with respect. Some guys can handle a little more criticism than others. 

“Some guys can handle a little more criticism from their peers than others can. I think that’s a manager’s job, to understand kind of the different approaches. Players, the guys are in their 20s. Think about where you were when you were first out of college … a few years off that, and your maturity level and really your lack of life experience in a lot of ways. And, kind of like evaluate under those circumstances: you’re going to be somewhat sensitive when you’re in that time period in your life.”

How well a manager handles a clubhouse isn’t something the Rangers, at least, have tried to quantify.

“More anecdotal for me. There may be ways,” Daniels said. “I haven’t really been part of that. If there is [a way] we haven’t figured it out, and we haven’t really tried to do, to be honest with you.”

For the full interview, listen to the podcast below

Brown (hip) and Johnson (shoulder) will play in Game 5

Brown (hip) and Johnson (shoulder) will play in Game 5

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics are far from being healthy heading into tonight’s must-win Game 5, but they will have all of their players available with the exception of Isaiah Thomas (hip).

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown (right hip) was questionable heading into tonight’s game, but he told CSNNE.com earlier that he was planning to give it a go tonight.

Boston head coach Brad Stevens confirmed later on that the 6-foot-7 rookie would in fact play tonight.

His presence tonight is one of the many keys to Boston’s efforts to keep their season alive.

They trail Cleveland 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, with a loss tonight ending their season and with that, sending the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals for the third straight season.

Boston’s Amir Johnson (right shoulder) did not play in Game 4, but will be in uniform and available to play tonight. Stevens said the 6-foot-9 veteran was healthy enough to play in Game 4 but Stevens elected to keep him out of the game because he wanted Johnson to have more than one day to rest his shoulder before potentially playing him again.

In other injury-related news, Stevens confirmed comments made earlier in the day by Danny Ainge regarding Isaiah Thomas’ right hip injury which led to the Celtics shutting him down for the playoffs after the injury proved to be too much for him to play through at halftime of Boston’s Game 2 loss.

Speaking during 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show, Ainge said there was “a lot” of inflammation around the affected joint on Thomas’ right hip.

“It had gotten worse from the MRI’s he had before,” said Ainge who added that it would have been “irresponsible to allow him to play anymore.”

Said Stevens: “It sounds to me like the course of action right now … is let the inflammation go down a little bit.”

Ainge said earlier that because of the inflammation, it will likely be at least a couple weeks before Thomas and the Celtics will know if he will require surgery or whether another form of treatment will be needed.

Because of that uncertainty, Ainge stressed that Thomas would not return to play in this series even if it were closer.

“No. No way. He’s done (for the season),” Ainge said.