I liked Ryan Gomes.
Maybe it’s because I’m from Rhode Island and I watched a lot of him playing at Providence College, where he was a star. Maybe it’s because I saw him take those versatile skills to the Boston Celtics and become a solid NBA player. Whatever it was, Ryan Gomes was my guy.
He was the type of guy I wanted on my team. I knew he’d never be a star, but I thought he’d be that quiet glue guy that would do the little things and hit the big baskets when someone forgot about him.
This is probably why, on July 30, 2007, I was writing things with the headline: “Danny don’t do this deal.” Here it is in its entirety (with Gomes emphasis added):
I’ve spent all day trying to digest the details of this trade… and I’m fully prepared to officially say: I don’t like it.
Yes, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are a formidable trio. They would be the 21st century version of “The Big 3”. But let’s not forget one HUGE thing about The Big 3. They had guys like Dennis Johnson around. They had Danny Ainge on the perimeter to hit shots. They had Bill Walton coming off the bench. The Big 3 was obviously great… but they never did it all themselves. (more after the jump)
The deal… as currently rumored… would completely mortgage the Celtics future and it would put ALL of the scoring burden on Pierce, Allen and Garnett. Losing Jefferson, Gomes, Green and even Telfair thins out our bench almost irreparably. If this deal goes through, the Celtics would go from having a maxed-out roster to being in a position where they’d have to SIGN 4 guys to just to get to the minimum (It would be 2 after Gabe Pruitt and Glen Davis sign).
If this deal goes through… our starting lineup would be Rondo, Allen, Pierce, KG and Perkins. That leaves a bench of Pruitt, Tony Allen, Brandon Wallace, Glen Davis, Leon Powe and Brian Scalabrine. So this trade would leave the Celtics with 3 rookies (1 undrafted free agent and 2 second round picks) along with a guy rehabbing a reconstructed knee… a second round pick from last year… and Brian Scalabrine.
Now… the Detroit Pistons proved that you can go very far by primarily playing 7 guys. But only Tony Allen… and only if he’s healthy… provides any firepower of any kind off the bench.
It wouldn’t take much for me to change my mind. Pull Gomes out of this deal and I’ll change my tune. Gomes and Allen off the bench is much more palatable in the grand scheme of things. But including all of those players… AND two future first rounders… just thins us out too much for me to be on board with the trade.
However, it didn’t take long for me to realize my folly. On July 31, 2007, I watched Kevin Garnett walk into that press conference with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen and knew immediately I was an idiot. It clicked the instant I saw them together.
On August 1st, 2007, I immediately called myself out.
You know who I am?
I’m the vegetarian who says “meat is murder”… then bites into a hamburger and says “wow, this tastes great.”
I’m the conservationist who blasts SUV’s as gas guzzlers that keep us addicted to foreign oil… and then drives an Escalade and says “Oh…. this is NIIIIICE.”
I’m the guy who says brains are more important than looks… and then spends 2 years with the head cheerleader even though her IQ is the same as her cup size.
Yes… I’m the guy who wrote Danny, Don’t Do This Trade… and I questioned what we would gain… But everything changed when Kevin Garnett walked into that room in the Garden with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. When I saw him in there, I said “holy crap, KG is a Celtic.” All of a sudden, the reality of KG walking into that room slapped me in the face, and told me that the three guys holding up jerseys were hatching a plan to run through the Eastern Conference.
Then KG did little things… like kiss his jersey. Like speak as honestly as I’ve heard anyone speak. Like let us all know that he listens with his “I’ve never been on a cruise” line (best line of the evening). Like stand on the parquet afterwards and stare into the banners as if to figure out which one would have to be moved to make room for the next one… and to figure out how his number 5 would look up the rafters.
And then we find out that KG didn’t even try to screw the Celtics when he was working out this extension. Opt out? Forget it. He got rid of it. Trade kicker? Forget it. He let them spread it out over the life of the extension.
So not only am I eating crow here. I’m asking for seconds. I don’t care. Unlike some of the stooges in this town, I’m owning up to it. We’ll figure out our bench situation. I’m using the same word a LOT of other fans are using out there. I’m giddy about KG.
This was my first exposure to the sheer force of nature that is Kevin Garnett. When the mere sight of the man caused me to turn on myself in an instant, I knew there would be changes around the Boston Celtics.
We started this blog in the dregs of the Celtics tank-job. Chuck and I basically created an outlet to take our bitching as co-workers to the intewebs. We spent months trashing the team and their decisions.
Then KG showed up and suddenly things made sense. Ainge cashed his assets in for a mega-star who came in and did mega-star things. The term “culture change” is applied to him for good reason. He instantly bought into Doc Rivers’ “Ubuntu” and the rest of the team followed.
The ripple-effect of Kevin Garnett’s presence is still felt today. You can read about that in a fantastic piece by Ben Rohrbach on Ball Don’t Lie
“We aren’t able to quantify much of it, but let’s forget about his personality for a second and his approach to life and the game,” Ainge said. “KG’s talent alone and what he brought to the table from a defensive presence and an offensive talent was very, very exciting for Paul and Ray, and I think it transformed those two players and Doc Rivers and the whole city of Boston. They could see on paper that, man, these three Hall of Fame players with still a lot of basketball left in them are coming together, and there was such an enthusiasm and excitement that elevated the preparation, effort and expectations immediately of the entire city of Boston.
“Then, you add KG’s energy, enthusiasm, unselfishness, work ethic and those characteristics that he exemplified on top of just the sheer talent. Those carry our franchise to this day.”
Seriously, that’s a great piece. You should go read it. I sure as hell won’t try to top it here.
It’s hard to really quantify exactly what KG meant to Boston. The championship is only part of his impact. Without KG, I might be writing about the 10th anniversary of the Paul Pierce trade and having debates over whether the number 34 should be retired. Without KG, Doc Rivers doesn’t get the chance to run his own franchise. Without KG, Danny Ainge might be doing TV work right now instead of building Boston’s next contending team.
He made everyone around him better. He was Rajon Rondo’s rudder… the only guy big and smart enough to compete withe Rondo’s abstinence. He turned Boston’s notoriously gruff media into his postgame audience with classic quotes.
But my absolute favorite thing about Kevin Garnett was when the mask came off in a blowout.
We all know the KG drill by now… an hour before game time, Kevin climbed into his own head and began a metamorphosis into “KG”… maniacal, face-clapping, floor-crawling, nut-tapping monster who intimidated opponents at all costs. Only two things snapped Garnett out of this stupor: The final buzzer, and “You should be dancing” by the Bee Gee’s… aka “Gino Time”.
I’ll repeat the same line I always use in conjunction with these videos…
I wish I loved anything as much as KG loves Gino Time.
None of this is possible without the monster trade I was totally against for most of July, 2007. Even though my guy Ryan Gomes had to go to make it happen.