Editorial: The early dawn of a new dynasty

  • Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris reacts to a basket during Game 2 of the team's NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers on May 15 in Boston. AP

Thursday, May 31, 2018

‘Tonight, the Boston Celtics will face off against the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.” Those are the words we had hoped to write in this space, but LeBron James and some other guys wearing the uniform of the Cleveland Cavaliers had something to say about it in Boston on Sunday night. So now it’s the Cavs who will attempt to keep the Warriors from repeating as champions. Ho-hum. Let’s just get to next season already, when the new Celtics dynasty begins.

That’s not exactly a bold prediction. The team is already really good, with the potential to be Larry Bird-era special.

The C’s deep playoff run happened despite losing their two biggest stars to injury, Gordon Hayward (in the season’s first game) and Kyrie Irving (in early April), which is astounding in a league where superteams stocked with high-end talent – like James and Kevin Love of the Cavs and Kevin Durant and Steph Curry of the Warriors – rule the roost. Boston will get Hayward and Irving back next year, as well as veteran Al Horford, but now instead of a young, inexperienced “supporting cast” they’ll be joined by three new NBA stars in Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier and a deep, deep bench filled with the kind of high-energy, fearless players that General Manager Danny Ainge loves.

As if all of that wasn’t exciting enough, the Celtics have Brad Stevens, who at 41 years old is already considered one of the best coaches in the NBA – or anywhere. Consider this endorsement from Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots: “Coach Stevens is a phenomenal person, leader, teacher and strategist, and the job he does is a model for all coaches.” For some of the Celtics’ past great teams, it seemed like the head coach’s main responsibility (with all due respect to K.C. Jones) was to stay out of the way. With this team, it all begins with Stevens.

Of course, sustained greatness requires an owner who is willing to invest in winning, and the Celtics have one in Wyc Grousbeck. On Wednesday, he told the Boston Herald that “we’re in the latter stage right now in trying to keep this group together and build onto it as best we can.”

“We live for banners,” Grousbeck said. “We live for rings. That’s what we live for.”

So the Celtics have an owner who is willing to do what it takes to win; a GM with a great eye for talent; a head coach who could go down in history as one of the best ever; a mix of stars and role players, veterans and young guys, who have bought into the system and are unselfish about executing the plan. Sound familiar, Patriots fans?

For nearly two decades, the Patriots have dominated the National Football League, but the window is closing. Belichick and “greatest of all time” quarterback Tom Brady are likely approaching retirement, perhaps after next season, and that should return New England to its pre-2001 status of being just another franchise. The Red Sox and Bruins will no doubt continue to be among the better teams in their respective leagues, but only the Celtics appear to have the pieces in place to be the next Boston sports dynasty.

So get on with it Cavs and Warriors, and enjoy the Finals while you can. Next year, and for many years to come, the stage will belong to the Celtics.