The Ainge we know and loathe
The Boston Celtics had made a series of moves since this year's NBA draft that were conspicuously devoid of that trademark Ainge style - in other words, no sense whatsoever of logic or reason.
Just as fans were beginning to think that the GM had suddenly and inexplicably come to his senses, word broke on Wednesday that the C's were trying to lure Reggie Miller out of retirement to serve as their backup shooting guard.
Ah, that's the Danny Ainge we know and loathe. Trying to fill one of the team's gaping holes with a big-name has-been who would likely demand way too much money and provide precious little return on investment. When Miller hung up his hi-tops in 2005, the reality was that such a move was probably more than a few seasons overdue - Miller was gimping around on two bad ankles, nursing an achy back and basically making his money as a cherry-picking three point shooter who nobody had the heart to body up on.
During one Pacers-Celtics game at the then-FleetCenter in 2004, one fan courtside started one of the most memorable sing-song rips on Reggie in recent memory:
(While it is debatable whether sister Cheryl - who was a standout collegiate player at USC before being drafted to play against men in the USBL - had the better basketball genes in the Miller family, there is little doubt that she was more imposing physically than Reggie, especially at the time of this incident.)
Yet this is who Ainge and company see as the answer to the Celtics' depth woes? Forget trying to figure out what Miller would have left to bring the table - unless you mean the trainer's table - and ask yourself this: Why him? Of all the available and even recently-retired players out there, why would Ainge want to import one of the Celtics' most hated former foes? Is he purposefully trying to torture fans?
That last question was rhetorical, by the way. It has long since been determined that Ainge hates Celtics fans; see every major personnel move he made prior to this year's draft for evidence of that.
But thankfully, Miller appears to want no part of Ainge's ridiculous plan. So instead of dwelling further on the GM's total lack of basketball IQ, I have decided to make a list of other potential "answers" for the Celtics' roster holes. First, a caveat: Ainge set a twisted sort of precedent by courting Miller. It's now open season for stupid, far-fetched and impossible suggestions, starting with...
1.) Larry Bird. Why not? I'll bet he can still stand out on the wing and shoot threes, likely at a better clip than Miller could at this point. As a matter of fact, pride alone would probably fuel Larry Legend to out-contribute Miller. And this would obviously be the PR coup of the century for Boston, and increase ticket sales by upwards of oh, say, infinity percent.
2.) Bill Laimbeer. Since it's apparently in the team's best interests to bring in somebody whom the fans can't stand, why not go for the big enchilada? I know I'd pay money to be able to boo Laimbeer again, even if he was on our side. Maybe they could get Isiah Thomas as well, in a two-for-one, and stop requiring fans to go through metal detectors to get into the TD Banknorth Center. Heck, I'd buy season tickets to that.
3.) George Mikan. To tell you the truth, I know next to nothing about this guy, other than that he used to be good a really, really long time ago. Just like Reggie Miller.
Oh wait, Mikan is actually dead. Does that disqualify him from consideration? Knowing Ainge, probably not.
4.) Sherman Douglas. "The Little General" probably weighs about 300 pounds by now, and has a physique that strongly resembles a six-foot-in-diameter Cocoa Puff. But Boston fans have never cheered mediocrity as loudly as they did when Douglas ran the point back in the late 80's, during Bird and Kevin McHale's last hurrah. Arguably the best bad Celtic of all time.
5.) Tom Chambers. Boston loves its white guys, and this one could actually dunk - ferociously! His two-handed jam on "Bulls vs. Blazers & The NBA Playoffs" for Super Nintendo always made me laugh hysterically, because it looked so funny seeing a white guy flying a foot above the rim. Then I saw the actual highlight of that dunk from a real NBA game, I believe against the Lakers, and I was beside myself. Plus, Chambers had one of those awesome feathered-back hairdos that half the guys in Boston under the age of 60 are still sporting. I always wished the Celtics would trade for him.
6.) Harold Miner. Remember "Baby Jordan?" Another former USC star, this guy won the slam dunk contest back in 1995 with a jam called "Around the World," in which he took off, spun around a few times, did his taxes, played a few hands of Baccarat, watched an episode of Miami Vice, took a brief nap and then dunked the ball while still going up. He went on to get about a half-hour of actual playing time during his whole career, but he was arguably the best athlete in the world at doing one incredible, utterly useless thing. In other words, perfect for the C's.
7.) Antoine Walker. I'm actually not kidding about this one. One of my readers, who goes by his AOL screen name of yankeessuck1234, thinks that I harbor some sort of ill will toward Employee #8; if he would just come into my office and see the Antoine action figure proudly on display, he would know differently. My all-time favorite Celtic, Walker played a huge role in returning the team to respectability during the 90's and deserves to be back in green if this team is really, truly dedicated to winning a championship. Even if they aren't, they should bring him back anyway.
Last, and absolutely least...
8.) Danny Ainge. Isn't anyone else surprised that this hasn't happened yet? I fully expected both Ainge and Isiah to be back on the floor as modern day player-coaches shortly after their teams sunk to levels where ownership wouldn't object. And if the Celtics really need someone to just stand around and shoot threes, isn't Ainge the logical choice? The guy used to routinely pull up during 3-on-1 fast breaks and launch it. I'm amazed that Bird never strangled him.
But alas, Boston fans are sure to miss out on personnel choices this creative, or ridiculous. Ainge will instead throw gobs of money at a handful of underachieving stiffs whom he expects, just because they're teaming with a nucleus of superstars, to suddenly elevate their games. But to tell you the truth, I'll put up with a Brevin Knight or Troy Hudson, as long as it means no Reggie Miller. The last thing the Celtics need is another has-been.
Unless they can coax Charles Barkley out of retirement. Now THAT would be something.
Adam White is Sports Editor of the Banner. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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