July 9, 2009
Five familiar faces of the Celtics' basketball family took the stage today to introduce their newest member, four-time All-Star forward/center Rasheed Wallace.
With President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge, Head Coach Doc Rivers and his new running mates, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett by his side, Wallace met the Boston press for the first time.
Throughout the press conference, it was hard to ignore what was sitting over Wallace's left shoulder, raised high on the back wall of the practice court. It's the scoreboard -- a scoreboard that will serve as an indicator throughout the season to he and his teammates of what's taking place on the court during practice. Today it was an indicator, too.
The time of that scoreboard read "20:10", the score was all knotted up at "18", and the player section showed "30".
Translation: The goal of adding Wallace, the newest No. 30 to don Celtic green, to the mix is to bring home the franchise's 18th championship banner in the year 2010.
Wallace's main goal this offseason was to join a team that had legit championship aspirations, and that goal was evident by his initial list of possible destinations: San Antonio, Dallas, Boston, Cleveland and Orlando.
Boston was on that list, but that wasn't good enough. When the Big Three made the decision that they couldn't allow Wallace and his family to call anywhere other than Boston their home, they decided to take it into their own hands.
Ainge, Rivers and owner Wyc Grousbeck took a recruiting trip to Detroit to try and woo Wallace into joining their team.
Their arrival was expected, but what Wallace didn't see coming was three future Hall of Famers flying to Detroit to recruit him as well.
"As soon as I came around the corner and into the little conference room, and to see [Garnett, Pierce and Allen] there, that I wasn't expecting," said Wallace.
"That showed a lot. That showed me that they really want me to be a part of this team, that they'd open their arms for me and my family to be a part of the Boston Celtics now."
That recruiting tool worked, and now Wallace bolsters a frontline that Pierce called "arguably the best frontline in the NBA."
The arrival of 'Sheed in Boston has a lot of fans giddy, but the statements coming out of the Big Three today shows that they're pretty energized themselves.
"I'm just overly excited," said Garnett. "... I don't really chase too many people. I don't really go out and seek guys or try to manipulate, but this was totally worth it. This was my chance to play with another great big, another person who's not only as passionate but also as intense, and is [very] versatile skill wise."
Pierce chimed in to say, "It gives you an extra boost of energy. The last few weeks, it's hard for me to stay out of the gym."
Every person on the stage indicated that this marriage was one that was on the radar from the very last day of the Celtics' regular season. Allen spoke about how he, Pierce and Garnett held a meeting after their final game and decided that Wallace was the one piece of the puzzle that they needed to add this offseason. Rivers agreed with that idea wholeheartedly.
"Right when the season ended, you looked at the free-agent list and there was one name that popped out right away, and it was Rasheed's," he said. "Obviously we didn't know if we could get him or not, but we knew that's who we wanted."
With that doubt now being in the past, the C's are poised for another championship run with even more championship experience.
For those that criticize the move and think that Wallace's well-known temper might get in the way, he says think again. He consistently stated throughout the 25-minute question and answer session that he's willing to do whatever it takes to win another championship, and that includes coming off the bench.
"I've never put myself before the team," he said. "Five can accomplish more than one, no matter how great that one is."
That's the type of unselfish attitude that has typified the Celtics for the past two seasons. Both Wallace and those five familiar Celtics faces have one championship ring on their fingers from this decade. Now, with all of them on the same side, they'll be looking to make it two.