With the Doc Rivers to the Clippers deal essentially done, we can officially and definitively say the Celtics are now entering the rebuilding stage. Regardless of what Danny Ainge decides to do with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, letting Doc go to the Clips signifies the end of an era. But before we look to the future, lets take some time to reflect on the accomplishments of Doc while in Boston.
Doc's first few seasons in Boston were a roller coaster ride. After making the playoffs early in his tenure, Doc and the Celtics endured two straight losing seasons from 2005 to 2007, culminating with a horrid 24-58 record in the 06-07 season. During the following offseason, as we all know, Danny Ainge spun deals to acquire Kevin Garnett from Minnesota and Ray Allen from the Supersonics to join them with Pierce forming the original Big 3.
Many around the NBA were unsure of how the three of them would gell, as no one had seen 3 superstars on a team before. Doc quickly enforced a team first policy, and the team embraced and personified the philosophy of unbuntu; putting the group over any single person. This motto helped the Celtics become NBA champions in the first season of the "Big 3" experiment. Without Doc's strong leadership skills, this may not have ever happened.
The three seasons following the original championship was more of the same, as the Celtics dominated the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference. They were a Kendrick Perkins injury away from a 2nd NBA title in 3 years against the Lakers in 2010. Many thought the Big 3 would be at most a 3 year experiment, as KG, PP, and Allen were all towards the end of their prime. However, with the emergence of Rajon Rondo, despite outside pressure to break up the core after 3 years, the Celtics stuck together to make another run at a title, only to fall short in the Eastern Conference Semi's.
In the lockout shortened 2011-2012 season, Boston made a surprise run to the Eastern Conference Finals, and took a 3-2 series lead against the Miami Heat and the new Big 3 of LeBron, D-Wade, and Chris Bosh. Unfortunately they lost 2 straight and were ousted just shy of The Finals.
The following offseason, Ray Allen bolted to South Beach and the Celtics were thought to be in a rebuilding stage. Management decided to bring the band back together for one final season, although injuries and inconsistent play resulted in Boston finishing 3rd in the Atlantic, and being bounced in the first round by the Knicks.
I give a great deal of the credit for the sustained success of the original Big 3 to Doc Rivers. His coaching prowess pushed the Celtics farther than many thought were possible. However now that he will be patrolling the sidelines in the Staples Center for the Clippers for the 2013 season, we can officially close the book on this era of success for Boston that Doc was an integral part of.
The first round pick Boston is receiving from the Clippers in rumored to be in 2015. Hopefully that draft will be as loaded as the 2014 draft is supposed to be and the Celtics can pick up a key building block for the future. What Boston will do with KG and PP this offseason remains to be seen, but in "trading" Doc away, management has made it clear what direction they are headed in.
These next few seasons will certainly be interesting for Boston in determining the long term success for the team, and hopefully the rebuilding stage will not last for too long.