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End of Big Three Era in Boston?
Posted By Alex Kennedy On June 10, 2012 @ 12:49 am In All,NBA | No Comments
As Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen walked to the Boston Celtics’ bench for perhaps the final time, Doc Rivers couldn’t hold back his emotions. Rivers hugged each member of the Big Three, and his eyes began to well up with tears.
Nobody knows what the future holds for Garnett, Pierce and Allen after losing to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, but there’s a strong possibility that this is the end of an era in Boston.
Garnett and Allen will become unrestricted free agents this summer. Pierce has hinted that he’ll consider retirement. Since joining forces in 2008, the Big Three have won a championship, emerged as perennial contenders and solidified themselves as one of the greatest trios in NBA history. They’ll each be inducted into the Hall of Fame when they retire and they’ll be remembered as winners.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever had a group like this,” Rivers said after the game. “They did everything I asked them to do. I love them. They were phenomenal. A great team group. I know everybody will look at the Big Three individually. Kevin, Ray and Paul. I’m never going to look at them individually, I’m going to look at them as a group collective. They all gave up plus‑seven shots each. They gave up minutes. I asked them to play defense and move the ball, and they all did it, and they’re willing to do it for the better of the team. I think that’s what we should focus on, how much they gave up trying to win. That’s what I’ll remember most about them.”
When asked if the Big Three had played their final game together, Rivers paused.
“I don’t know,” Rivers said. “I think we’re going to wait and see what happens with free agency and all that stuff. I honest to gosh hadn’t thought much about it. I’ve given zero thought to the whole thing. Danny [Ainge] has talked to me a couple of times recently. I probably didn’t hear much. We’ll find that out later. I just want to stick with this group if it’s a couple more days, a couple more weeks, or whatever. I just want to stick with them.”
After the game, Allen took the podium and almost immediately started to cry.
“We’ve been through a lot,” Allen said, holding back tears. “We won a lot of games. Up to this point, we fought hard to keep it together. Now, there are so many emotions. This one hit me hard. We wanted it so bad.”
“Five years has gone quickly, but it seems like it has lasted forever,” Allen said. “We’ve played in a lot of big games. We won a championship together. The things that we do off the floor together. It’s just been a special time. It’s been a special moment. We’ll remember a lot. Even with Kevin and myself in our past situations, we bring so much wealth of experience into Boston. The young guys we played here with, man, it’s been a privilege. I can definitely say that.”
“It’s always been somewhat intimidating,” Allen added. “You walk into a building every day and you see the banners and the retired jerseys in the building. It just always makes you work a little bit harder. When [John] Havlicek is in the building, when [Bob] Cousy is around. Tommy [Heinsohn] is watching us every day. Bill Russell is at the games. Those are like our big brothers. We knew that we had some big shoes to fill and a lot that we needed to do to try to compare to what they’ve done. We have definitely fallen short, but we’ve gone out trying to play as hard as we can every night.”
Allen will likely test free agency, especially since he was nearly dealt at the trade deadline. Sources believe he’ll look to sign a multi-year deal with another contender. Garnett will also receive interest from a number of teams after his phenomenal postseason run. Pierce was almost traded at midseason for a lottery pick, and a similar move could be made before the draft if Garnett and Allen let it be known that they’re leaving. After giving this group one more shot, this will likely be the summer that Ainge decides to rebuild.
Boston’s Big Three had an excellent run, winning more postseason games during their five-year stretch than Boston had won in the decade before their arrival. Even if Garnett, Pierce and Allen sign elsewhere and put on different jerseys, they’ll always be remembered for their successful stint with the Celtics.
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