Watching on TV today, it looked like a great day for a parade. Sunny, high 60s / low 70s, 100-percent chance of confetti.
No one in downtown Boston seemed much interested in the basketball messages the Celtics had just delivered and confirmed. Understandable. It was about the moment, not the big picture.
For 29 other teams, it should be about the messages.
*You do not need a great point guard to win a championship.
Chris Paul emerged as a major difference maker and drove the Hornets to new levels of success and now the Bulls appear to be aiming for Derrick Rose with the No. 1 pick in the draft in a week, but a team just won't the title with a point guard as its third-best player at best.
Among the point guards to direct the last 10 title teams, only two were All-Stars: Tony Parker and Chauncey Billups. Otherwise, purely complementary players.
2008 -- Rajon Rondo, Celtics.
2007 -- Parker, Spurs.
2006 -- Jason Williams, Heat. With the ball-handling presence of Dwyane Wade.
2005 -- Parker.
2004 -- Billups, Pistons.
2003 -- Parker.
2002 -- Derek Fisher, Lakers. With the Kobe Bryant presence.
2001 -- Fisher. With Kobe.
2000 -- Ron Harper, Lakers. Ditto.
1999 -- Avery Johnson, Spurs.
Again: Derek Fisher two rings as the playoff starter, J-Will one, Rajon Rondo one, Avery Johnson one... and Jason Kidd and Steve Nash zero. A superstar point guard hasn't won a championship since Isiah Thomas with the Pistons in 1990, with slight room for technical debate in the Bulls' glory years with shooting guard Michael Jordan and small forward Scottie Pippen handling the ball so much.
*Fast does not win.
Also a Spurs (2007, 2005, 2003) and Pistons (2004) message and a bit from the Heat (2006). This whole bit about the trend toward playing fast and playing small -- fad, niche approach, last resort for teams that can't compete on a conventional level.
Maybe it will win out some day and the stance will have to change, but this is definitely not some day. None of the final four teams, the Lakers and Spurs in the West and the Celtics and Pistons in the East, played speedball, supposedly the new direction of the league. L.A. could go up-tempo and was fourth in scoring, but more because it was a great passing team and did a pretty good of taking care of the ball. And the Lakers used big lineups and would have been bigger if center Andrew Bynum had been available.
Many of the splashy moves around the season were to add muscle, not to streamline to increase RPMs. The Celtics were 11th in the league in scoring, making it five times in the last six years that the champion did not break the top 10. Miami was the exception, finishing sixth.
Sometimes, it's the determination to hold the course when everyone says you're done (San Antonio for much of the decade). And sometimes it's going for it and having the gamble pay off in a mix of planning and luck.
Danny Ainge, the Celtics general manager, bypassed the screaming need for a youth movement and traded the No. 5 pick in the 2007 draft to Seattle for Ray Allen, when it would have been more logical for Ainge to deal veteran Paul Pierce for a package of picks, expiring contracts and prospects.
With Pierce and Allen, they maybe lose in the second round and Ainge still has done nothing to secure success in the future. Except that Kevin Garnett read the SuperSonics-Celtics deal as a level of Boston's commitment to do whatever it takes to win now. Once he agrees about a month later to talk contract extension, after previously wanting no part of a renovation project, the Celtics and Timberwolves put a trade together.
The results were on parade today.