Summary: The story of the triumphant 2008 NBA champion Boston Celtics, complete with all the highs and lows.
My Thoughts: I remember every play. At least, that's how this book made me feel.
We had been through a lot as Celtics fans, in the years leading up to the Big Three, the Pitino crash, the sense of steadiness under Jim O'Brien, and the sense that magic could happen again with Danny Ainge in charge. Doc Rivers signed on as coach, and then the deals started to fly. I'll never forget listening to Glenn Ordway on WEEI sports radio when the news broke. He predicted that it wouldn't be just two; there was going to be a third superstar coming to Boston. And so he was right. When the dust settled, it was Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Like Bird, McHale and Parrish. The Celtics had returned to their old winning formula.
Holley brings us through that timeline, the build-up, the construction of the team, through the draft, through trades, through the free agent signings. He takes us behind the scenes, though he really didn't have to; the story as it played out publicly was thrilling enough. But he does shed some light on a number of shorter contextual tales that explain some gaps in the public story. He confirms a few things - like how mad the players were when Ainge traded Kendrick Perkins away while the team was on a run to the finals - and exposes a few more. We learn more about the people behind the scenes, the analysts, the coaches, those people who influenced the player and coach acquisitions.
We know what happened. I remember exactly where I was when Ray Allen threw the ball into the air as the final buzzer sounded, and it landed in Cedric Maxwell's hands. The Big Three got their world title.
But we also know what happened afterward, how it all fell apart after a few more years. Holley doesn't spare us the denouement. As painful as it was to relive, I had to read it. I lived that, too. I watched Garnett turn his back to Allen as he tried to greet his old friend and teammate in his Miami Heat uniform after taking a free agent offer. I, like so many of us, wished it had ended differently.
This book relates the tale of the three, but also of Rivers and Rondo, of Kobe and Lebron. It captures an era. It takes us back, even just a decade, to a different time in pro basketball history.