The Boston Celtics haven’t won a championship in 14 years. Their long title drought is in large part because of the rebuilding years they had to go through and the fact that their championship core in 2008 gradually broke apart.
Led by Kevin Garnett, prime Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen, one can argue that 2008 could’ve been a dynasty in the making, but according to head coach Doc Rivers, one significant mistake hindered that all from happening.
Breaking the team apart was a mistake
Aside from the Big 3, the Celtics were loaded with smart, efficient, and high-caliber role players. They had Tony Allen, James Posey, Rajon Rondo, Leon Powe, Sam Cassell, Eddie House, and more. They had the 10th-best offensive rating in the league (110.2), but their league-leading defense (98.9) was what shaped their team’s identity and culture.
That’s why when the Celtics gave up some of their role players after winning the championship in 2008, Rivers thought it was the first domino that ruined a dynasty in the making.
“We do make mistakes like if I went back into Boston, the biggest mistakes, what did we make, after 2008, we start giving pieces away, Tony Allen (and) James Posey, where I thought what Golden State did (was) smart. They kept their core as long as they could keep it, and then obviously they started making moves when the guys got older,” Rivers said in his latest appearance on the Woj Pod.
The following year after winning the 2008 title, Boston entered the season without Cassell, James Posey, and eventually gave up Tony Allen. The C’s never won again because aside from their big 3 getting old and the competition getting tougher, they didn’t stick to their identity and develop that cohesion needed to build a dynasty — something that the 90s Chicago Bulls and current Golden State Warriors did for their respective dynasties.
Breaking a team apart often does not work out
One of the biggest mistakes a championship team can make in the NBA is to break the team apart. Retaining a championship team is never easy (especially financially), but look at the 2011 Dallas Mavericks and 2020 Los Angeles Lakers as prime examples. They went from the best basketball team in the league to slowly letting go of their core pieces to form a different kind of team — which may look smart at first (because it seemed like they tried to get better), but in reality, they gradually broke their group apart.
Sometimes, retooling a proven championship roster isn’t the answer to getting better. You need pieces that click with the superstars and think twice before replacing them, even for a stronger player. Forming a championship roster or dynasty stems from finding the perfect fit of players who match the team’s identity and goals. Because at the end of the day, dynasties are built because of overall talent — from the owners, management, coaching staff, and the roster itself.