When it was announced that Kevin Garnett’s show on TNT, “Area 21,” would host a 2008 Boston Celtics team reunion, Celtics fans were generally excited to see how the guys would interact now after all this time. With Rajon Rondo now the seasoned veteran on the Chicago Bulls, and the Big-3 retired, there was set to be an interesting dynamic. Not to mention, Ray Allen’s lost invite created a bit of drama surrounding the entire thing, with most NBA fans recognizing they would not have won their title without him. At the intro to the show, Glen “Big Baby” Davis, Kendrick Perkins, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo joined Garnett (KG) on stage, making it look a bit empty considering all those who contributed to the title run.
Surprise guest and coach of the 2008 Celtics team, Doc Rivers, then video chatted into the show to tell all the players how now that Pierce is retired “Rondo is the only one alive,” with the guys getting a kick out of it. Doc then eluded to a full 2008 Celtics reunion party where Pierce said that “all Celtics would be invited to”, which leaves the big question on if Ray Allen will in fact be welcome. The strangest part about what happened here was that they cut to Sam Cassell, a player on that 2008 Celtics team, who was tucked away in the studio seemingly doing some sort of production work and not participating on stage.
Doc stuck around to reminisce over the infamous Rome trip the Celtics took in the preseason after forming the Big-3, recalling how much that trip brought the team together. To no surprise, Doc brought up a story that during one training camp, Glen Davis gained weight, to which Doc says is impossible. The root of the weight gain according to Doc was Davis going up for second servings after the whole team had eaten, which could only be kept up for so long before the chef had told on him. The best part of this segment was a story told about how after a game KG came into the locker room and pushed kids, doctors, and non-player personnel out of the way to get to the post-game meal, saying “players eat first,” which is classic KG.
Just before Doc exited, he made sure to not leave everyone empty-handed, bringing out a special retirement gift for Pierce, which to his surprise was a wheelchair. This of course is a callback to Pierce’s infamous injury that required him to get wheel-chaired off the court in Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals. Pierce took no time at all to get into wheelchair, thanking Doc and calling out his haters saying, “you know what came with this wheelchair? A ring came with this wheelchair.”
Finally, the elephant in the room was addressed and the Ray Allen breakup was brought to discussion. The consensus from everyone on stage was that Allen caused the sour breakup and that it was on him to mend the fences back together. Pierce described it as Allen essentially leaving without giving anyone a heads up, which if notice was provided, Pierce said he would have felt a lot better about it. What hurt the most was that Allen crossed their brotherhood without any thought, and it just seemed like he had moved on from being a Celtic.
The conversation then shifted toward life after that Celtics squad, with each player reflecting on the culture change in working with an entirely new team. Each player discussed how they tried to bring their championship mentality to their new teams but their organizational cultures wouldn’t allow for it to flourish, making note to look at where each organization is today (Orlando Magic, Brooklyn Nets, Oklahoma City Thunder). It seemed that they had all fed off each other’s championship mentality and as they one-by-one moved on, the whole group crumbled.
Lastly, KG wanted to talk about the current NBA Playoffs and most notably LeBron James and his consistent dominance of the Eastern Conference. Pierce chimed in saying that as long as Lebron James stays in the East, he will go to the NBA Finals every year. An always humble Pierce then said he was the last player in the NBA to truly go toe-to-toe with Lebron James and that players in the NBA are too fearful to step up and compete against him. Pierce and KG said that players look at Lebron as a legend and that players must essentially put him at a level playing field instead of on a pedestal if they want to compete.
This kind of camaraderie between teammates is truly a special, valued, and most importantly rare thing to see in today’s NBA landscape. Looking at the current roster and chemistry of today’s Boston Celtics team, it’s not far off to say that with one more piece, we could see them sitting up on a stage reminiscing like this in 10-15 years. With confidence and one spark to invoke that championship mentality into the team, the Celtics could see themselves stepping up and competing against an aging LeBron James to take back the East in the coming years.