It Must Be The Shoes
The Celtics began the 2003-04 season Wednesday night with a convincing 98-75 win over the injury riddled Miami Heat. With the opening night victory came more changes than a Big Dig construction plan, and not just changes like an overhauled roster or a new dunking Lucky at halftime, which by the way is a must see. The change that made the most noise seemed to be on the player's feet.
The Celtics took the court without their token black shoes, that fans have become accustomed to, and made quite a buzz with their new white shoes. But when captain Paul Pierce decided the team should switch to the pearly white shoes, it still had to go through Red Auerbach first.
"I mentioned it to him (Danny Ainge) right before the season kind of jokingly," said Pierce following the opening night win. "He thought it was a good idea and I did too. I always wondered why we haven't worn white shoes since I've been here and I think they look nice with the uniform."
After Ainge and Pierce decided the white shoes were a good idea, they had to check with the big guy and apparently it was not a big deal to the legendary coach, which surprised some people.
The way the story goes is that the Celtics wore white shoes when Auerbach took over the Celtics coaching post in 1950, but the problem was the white shoes would get dirty early in the season. And believe me when I say that Bob Cousy didn't have a $100 million shoe deal with Nike. Chuck Cooper wasn't wearing a different pair of high tops every night.
So with all the wear and tear on the same pair of white sneakers the Celtics shoes were getting quite dirty and Auerbach didn't think the dirty shoes looked very professional. So in order to keep the high Celtics standard, the team switched to black shoes to hide the dirt.
After sporting black shoes through the 60's and early 70's, the Green made a switch to green, which lasted through the late 80's, until a switch back to black came in the early 90's, which remained until Wednesday night.
The change is not a complete overhaul though. The Celtics will be sticking with the traditional black shoes when they don the green road uniforms for away games. Let's just hope the C's experience as much success on the parquet with the new look, as they have over the years with the old.
Changes In The Lineup
Eric Williams scored 15 points Wednesday off the bench.
photo: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images
Other changes have come for the Celtics in their starting lineup. Tony Battie and Eric Williams, who have both been in the starting rotation for the better part of the last two seasons, are now coming off the bench. They have been replaced with Mark Blount and Kedrick Brown, although replaced probably is not the right word since Battie and Williams logged 22 and 24 minutes Wednesday night.
The change in the rotation has given the Celtic a much stronger and deeper bench. Battie and Williams, along with Raef LaFrentz, combined to score 37 points off the bench as the Celtics bench outscored the Heat's 41-23.
"We know what we got to do," commented Eric Williams. "We've been starters, we've been guys that have come off the bench, and it's not an ego thing that me and Tony have, we just go out there and play basketball. We're going to play hard every time we play basketball, every time we're out there, whether we start or we don't. We know how important we are to our team, for our team right now we're better coming off the bench."
Comments like that make this year's Celtics a team that you want to root for, and hopefully the deeper more experienced bench will pay off over the long haul.
The Celtic finished Wednesday night with six players in double figures The last time the Celtics had six players in double digits on opening night was 10 seasons ago, November 5, 1993, when the Celtics lost 111-108 to New York That night "The Chief" Robert Parish scored 20, Kevin Gamble 16, Acie Earl 15, Xavier McDaniel 15, Dino Radja 15 and Dee Brown 14 In attendance at the season opener were Red Auerbach, John Havlicek, JoJo White, M.L. Carr and Dana Barros The Celtics are now 38-19 all-time in home openers and 37-21 overall on opening night.