There has been a lot of discussion in Celtic town about GM Danny Ainge’s willingness to trade away his “big three” assets before they become worthless. Back in the day, Red Auerbach rolled with the real Big Three of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish until the wheels fell off and the result, in combination with Reggie Lewis’ untimely passing, was that Boston’s NBA franchise went a decade before even sniffing the Eastern Conference Finals.
So now, everyone is speculating about where any of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen or even the only guy really worth a ton, Rajon Rondo, might end up before the trade deadline. The last two, mainly because of contracts (and, with Rondo, because of age/ability), are the most likely to be moved in the opinion of the know-nothing writing this post. And it makes sense that Bird and Ainge, two long-time associates if not best friends, would talk about their two teams making a deal. The Pacers have a ton of cap room and, under NBA salary cap rules, are thus one of the few teams that can trade for players without sending back an equal sum in salary. And since Ainge doesn’t want to take back salary — he wants young, cheap players and picks — they have naturally discussed what it would take to make Ray Allen a Pacer.
Bird predicts the Noveau [sic] Three, like the Vintage Three, will remain intact until the end of this season, when the contracts of both Allen and Garnett expire.
“Here’s the thing,” Bird said. “When Danny and I talked about trading for Ray, he wanted Tyler Hansbrough and a first-round pick. If that’s the value he’s putting on Ray Allen, he ain’t getting it. That tells me he’s in no hurry to trade him.
“All that talk about Danny blowing it up, about not making the same mistakes as Red, is fine.
“But now that it’s his turn to pull the trigger, it’s a helluva lot harder than it looks.”
Much more importantly than the mention of this throwaway trade discussion between two guys who have probably discussed a ton of possible trades that will never happen, go read that entire MacMullan piece on the end of the real Big Three. It’s worth it for this quote from The Chief alone.
Parish left the Celtics in 1994 for Charlotte, where he played two seasons. His final year in the league was in 1996-97, when he played with Michael Jordan in Chicago and won another ring.
There, he regained an appreciation for Bird’s leadership style.
“What set Larry apart from Magic and Jordan was he wasn’t an in-your-face leader like they were,” Parish said. “He had too much respect for us. If you weren’t having a good night, he was more inclined to encourage you, or not say anything at all.
“But Magic and Jordan would jump all over you.”
In one of his first practices with the Bulls, Parish botched one of the plays and was amused to find Jordan jawing at him just inches from his face.
“I told him, ‘I’m not as enamored with you as these other guys. I’ve got some rings too,’ ” Parish recalled. “At that point he told me, ‘I’m going to kick your ass.’ I took one step closer and said, ‘No, you really aren’t.’ After that he didn’t bother me.”
The lesson? Don’t mess with Robert Parish.
Tags: Jackie MacMullan