Could a history lesson have saved the 2018-19 Boston Celtics?
That Celtics team was loaded with talent but couldn’t make it past the second round of the playoffs, doomed by poor chemistry and inconsistent play. What they didn’t lack, however, was confidence — perhaps too much of it. (Or at least the wrong kind of it.)
Appearing on the latest episode of “The Michael Holley Podcast” alongside Celtics managing partners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca, C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge shared a telling exchange he had with Jaylen Brown last season in the team’s lunch room.
“He came and sat behind me, and he said, ‘Do you think we’re as good as the 1986 Celtics team?’ ” Ainge told host Michael Holley. “And I went, ‘Oh my gosh. He’s so young.’ “
The 1986 Celtics, teeming with future Hall of Famers like Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish as well as a young Ainge, are considered one of the best teams in NBA history and steamrolled to a championship after a 67-win season.
“I mean, I just don’t think they could even grasp that 1985 loss to the Lakers and the torture of that series and what that led (to), and Larry Bird was in his prime, one of the greatest Celtics of all time,” Ainge said.
“But it was just fascinating. (Brown) was looking at it like matchup to matchup to matchup, like you’re doing a video game. That was a real awakening to me — just the perspective of guys.”
Ainge then pinpointed what would prove to be a critical problem for the C’s as players like Brown and Jayson Tatum fought for minutes on a crowded roster.
“Certain guys thought they were going to be All-Stars this year,” Ainge said. “And they work hard all summer to reach these individual goals, but we just had too much individual goals. We didn’t have enough guys that winning was the most important thing. And when you have 21- and 22-year-old kids, that’s gonna happen.
Ainge added he understood that mindset, having toiled in Bird’s shadow on the ’80s Celtics. But those C’s teams also were fiercely focused on a common goal of team success, while the ’18-’19 Celtics failed to do so — and paid the price.
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Danny Ainge spotted trouble with Celtics after this Jaylen Brown exchange originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
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