This is the second part of the sad tale of why the Celtics will suck forever. You can go back and read Part 1 if for some reason you enjoy really depressing stories.

1998-99: The Celtics draft Paul Pierce, which ends up being the first good draft choice the team has made since selecting Rick Fox in 1991. But the reality is that the team is still dependent on guys like Vitaly Potapenko, Tony Battie, and Dana Barros. 'Nuff said. The C's finish 19-31 in a lockout shortened season and, again, fail to make the playoffs.

1999-00: Rick Pitino continues to destroy the Celtics*. Thanks to some of his earlier deals, the Celtics don't have a draft pick until the 26th spot of the second round. Pitino still manages to screw that one up by selecting Kris Clack (who never plays for the Celtics -- or any other NBA team) instead of Manu Ginobili. For some reason, the Celtics trade Ron Mercer in order to reaquire Eric Williams (despite the fact that he had suffered a serious knee injury). They also get Danny Fortson in the deal. Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce both pour in 20 PPG but shoot in the low 40s. The season's most memorable moment is when Pitino gives his famous "Larry Bird is not walking through that door…" speech. The team plays no defense and finishes 35-47. They don’t reach the playoffs. Again.

*During the summer of 2000, I was in Chicago’s O’Hare airport waiting to catch a plane to Myrtle Beach when I looked over and noticed Rick Pitino waiting for the same flight. Being a long-time Celtics fan, I had grown to hate this man the way that Holocaust survivors hate Hitler. As I walked through First Class where he was sitting, I yelled at him, "Hey Pitino, you screwed over Red Auerbach and destroyed the Celtics. Good job." He didn’t respond or even look at me, but I hope my diatribe had something to do with his resignation the next season.

2000-01: Pitino drafts Jerome Moiso (who plays only 24 games and averages 1.5 PPG) instead of Quentin Richardson, Jamaal Magloire, or Michael Redd. On Septemer 25, 2000, Paul Pierce is hit in the head with a champagne bottle and stabbed 11 times in the neck and back outside a Boston nightclub. The attack punctures Pierce's left lung and surgery is required to save his life. Miraculously, Pierce recovers and plays all 82 games an sets career highs in points, assists, field goal percentage, and minutes. However, the team starts out 12-22, and, as a result, Pitino finally cracks and resigns with a record of 102-146 as the Celtics coach (he later admits he never would have taken the job if he'd known the team wouldn't be able to draft Tim Duncan). Pitino is replaced by Jim O'Brien as coach and Chris Wallace as General Manager, and Red Auerbach is reinstated as Team President. O'Brien coaches the team to a respectable 24-24 finish which, despite the 36-46 overall record, gives reason to hope.

2001-02: The Celtics have the 10th, 11th, and 21st picks in the draft, and they select Joe Johnson, Kedrick Brown, and Joseph Forte over guys like Richard Jefferson, Zach Randolph, Tony Parker, Gilbert Arenas, and Mehmet Okur. Their one good selection, Johnson, is dealt to the Phoenix Suns in a midseason trade for Rodney Rogers and Tony Delk. Jim O'Brien works some serious coaching magic, leading the team to 49 wins and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they fall to the New Jersey Nets in six games. During this series, the Boston crowd shows how far they've fallen by serenading Jason Kidd with chants of "wife beater" throughout Games 3 and 4.

2002-03: Due to earlier trades, the Celtics don't draft until the 21st spot of the second round. They select Darius Songaila. The team trades Kenny Anderson, Vitaly Potepenko, and Joseph Forte for Shammon Williams and a fat Vin Baker (and his even fatter $12 million contract). Baker manages to average 11 PPG and 8 RPG, but turns out to be a binge-drinking alcoholic. Coach Jim O'Brien repeatedly smells alcohol on Baker's Twinkie-coated breath and confronts him about it. The team is forced to suspend Baker and eventually releases him. Danny Ainge is hired as the Executive Director of Basketball Operations. The team loses a step without Anderson, who was their floor leader, and wins only 44 games. The team does qualify for the playoffs, but they are knocked out in the second round by the New Jersey Nets.

2003-04: Danny Ainge drafts Troy Bell, Dahntay Jones, and Brandon Hunter instead of players like Boris Diaw, Leandro Barbosa, Josh Howard, Luke Walton, or even Kyle Korver. Bell and Jones never play for the team, and Hunter is a bust. Ainge also trades Antoine Walker and Tony Delk to the Dallas Mavericks for Raef LaFrentz (along with his chronic injuries and ginormous contract) and a draft pick. Ainge feuds with coach Jim O'Brien, then trades Eric Williams and Tony Battie to Cleveland for Ricky Davis, Chris Mihm, and Jiri Welsch. O'Brien resigns in disgust with the team only 22-24. John Carroll takes over as coach and the team struggles to a 14-22 finish. The C's 36-46 record is (amazingly) good enough to make the playoffs...where the team is promptly swept in the first round by the Indiana Pacers. It's important to note that the Celtics were part of the trade that sent Rasheed Wallace to Detroit, which helped propel the Pistons to the 2004 NBA championship.

2004-05: The Celtics have a successful draft by selecting Al Jefferson, Delonte West, and Tony Allen. They also manage to dump the salaries of Chris Mihm, Chucky Atkins, and Jumaine Jones by picking up Gary Payton and Rick Fox (who immediately retires) from the Lakers. Danny Ainge hires Doc Rivers to coach the team. During the season, Ainge trades Payton to the Atlanta Hawks in order to reaquire Antoine Walker. The Hawks release Payton, who immediately resigns with the Celtics. The team manages to win 45 games and captures their first Atlantic Division title since the 1991-92 season. However, they lose in the first round to the Pacers, who finish them off in Game 7 at the Fleet Center.

2005-2006: Danny Ainge lets Gary Payton walk as a free agent and completes a sign-and-trade deal that sends Antoine Walker to the Miami Heat for Qyntel Woods and Curtis Borchardt (neither of whom ever play for the Celtics), two future second round picks, the rights to a Spanish center who never plays for them, cash, and some old Rainbow Bright trading cards. Ainge also signs Brian Scalabrine to a five year, $5 million contract. During the season, Ainge trades Ricky Davis, Mark Blount, and Marcus Banks to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Wally Szczerbiak (and his bad knees), Michael Olowokandi (and his lousy work ethic), and Dwayne Jones. Paul Pierce plays like an MVP, but the team finishes with a 33-49 record and doesn’t make the playoffs.

2006-07: The Celtics trade for Sebastian Telfair instead of drafting Brandon Roy; Telfair proves to be a bad fit, gets into legal trouble and is eventually released while Roy goes on to become the Rookie of the Year. Red Auerbach dies. Doc Rivers continues to "coach." Paul Pierce gets "injured" and the team begins to tank. This leads to a franchise-worst 18-game losing streak in the midst of a 2-22 stretch that lasts from December 2006 to February 2007. Dennis Johnson dies. The team finishes 24-58, which is the second worst record in the NBA. The team gives Rivers a contract extension. The Celtics effectively mortgage their future in the hopes of landing the first or second pick in the draft (and thus the chance of selecting Greg Oden or Kevin Durant). Instead, the Celtics end up with the fifth pick, which was (of course) the worst possible slot they could have drawn. It becomes official: the Celtics are doomed forever.

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Blogger Dave Spiegel said...
Ah, that is very sad. You were a little harsh on the 2003-2004 draft, considering we flipped Bell and Jones for Banks and Perkins -- so it's not like we got nothing out of that draft. But a better criticism, I think, is that we didn't take the opportunity to draft guys like Luke Ridnour, Boris Diaw, Leandro Barbosa, Josh Howard, Luke Walton, Kyle Korver, Udonis Haslem, Marquis Daniels.

Lady Luck is not shining on our team.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
As a lifelong Celtics-hater, I thank you for that enjoyable read.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Hey dave,

I agree on most of those guys except Ridnour, who was taken by Seattle two picks before Boston's first selection. Also, Haslem went undrafted because the dude was way fat and nobody was willing to give him a chance.

At any rate, I've updated the article to include the C's whiffs on Diaw, Barbosa, Walton, and Korver. I also amended a terrible oversight: trading for Telfair instead of drafting Brandon Roy.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"It becomes official: the Celtics are doomed forever."




Anonymous Lee Woodsum said...
Great history on my team. I was doing a search trying to find the date (at least the year) when M.L. Carr was talking about offering the Chicago Bulls a draft pick (because they still owned his rights) just to "talk" to Michael Jordan to try and coax him out of retirement and to play with the Celtics. Anyone remember the year that was?

Blogger The Sports Hayes said...
You forgot when Rick Pitino held a tryout for Ben Wallace (yes THAT Ben Wallace) and afterwards saying he couldn't play. Yeah Rick, how many times did Big Ben win NBA Defensive Player of the Year compared to your Kentucky stiffs Mercer, McCarty and Walker?

Actually I take that back....McCarty epitomized that 2001-02 Celtics team that had little talent but a lot of grit and hustle and Walker was a marginally good player when in shape.