It got me thinking. It's just amazing how things happen. Thinking "what if" might be one of my favorite things to do. Because in hindsight, "what if" can seriously have endless possibilities. Especially when it comes to sports and especially when it comes to a team that you know and love.
Like with the Celts, there are SO MANY "what if's" that can be brought up in the last 25 years. So many, that one "what if" can directly correlate with another. So of course, when one asks the question, "what if Len Bias never died?"- It's a good bet that a question coming soon after is, "what if Reggie Lewis never died?
What if Len Bias didn't die? How many championships could the Celtics have got with the original Big 3 and Bias? Would they still have even drafted Reggie Lewis? Probably not. What if Reggie Lewis never died? Would Parish and McHale have had enough left in the tank to make a deep playoff run? Would the Celtics have been mediocre for some years before getting that true second gun to go with Lewis in his prime?
The two stories of Bias and Lewis are so sad and yet eerily related. Because without the first one, you probably lose the second. Bias and Lewis shared a lot of the same strengths. They played the same position, they were both athletic leapers with mid-range games. And I'm sure it's just a coincidence that they both grew up in Maryland. Point is, if Len Bias didn't die, it's doubtful the Celtics draft Reggie Lewis. Personnel need aside, Boston surely wouldn't have had the draft position needed to get him. Now, that's not saying that Lewis might not have still passed away on some other roster; because he surely could have. But it still makes you ask, "what if?"
There's even more.
What if Boston didn't get the hard luck 3rd pick in the 1997 Tim Duncan lottery? What if they got the number 1 and the number 3 as opposed to the number 3 and the number 5? What if instead of Chauncey Billups (#3) and Ron Mercer (#5), they got Tim Duncan with the 1 and Billups with the 3? Dynasty?
What if instead of Mercer with the 5 they grabbed Tracy McGrady? What if they kept Billups instead of dealing him and built around Billups, McGrady, and Walker?
What if Boston traded for Allen Iverson in 2006? Would the Celtics still have a single player currently on the roster?
What about 1998...what if Paul Pierce never fell to the number 10 spot after Raef LaFrentz, Robert Traylor, and Larry Hughes? Better question; why do I own a Raef LaFrentz jersey?
Not counting player deaths, this is the mother of all "Boston Celtics What If's":
What if Boston got the #1 or the #2 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft?
There are two distinctly different scenarios here. And it boils down to disaster vs. goldmine. Oden vs. Durant.
If Boston got Oden, it's tough to say. We know Oden would still be made of glass but that team had a lot of promise before the 24 win season. If Pierce and Big Al stay healthy and Rondo progresses half as fast as he ended up progressing, the Celtics are at least interesting. If Boston got Durant, they wouldn't have traded for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. It's debatable whether or not Pierce would still be around. But one thing is for certain. A young nucleus of Al Jefferson, Rajon Rondo, and Kevin Durant would be ridiculously fun to watch. We're talking sky is the limit potential. And if those players were there with Pierce, my God.
Pick your favorite team in any sport and think about some "what if's." If you're bored, it's very amusing. Example, if you're a Bulls fan, ask yourself "What if the Bulls never got the #1 pick in 2008?" Or..."What if Chicago drafted Michael Beasley instead of Derrick Rose?" Have fun...
The more "what if's" that I think about, the more I realize how amazing it is that Paul Pierce is a Celtic. When you take into account Bias, Lewis, the Duncan draft lottery screw-job, the Oden/Durant lottery screw job, the Allen Iverson non-trade. I mean, we're talking any one of those things goes the other way and Pierce is never a Celtic lifer. Maybe like Ray and Kevin, he somehow ends up here through trade, but it would never be like it is now. It's very interesting to think about the "what if's."
Last one: and this one is almost blasphemous for me to be thinking about, but some how; I will manage to type it....
What if Boston passed on Antoine Walker with the #6 pick in the 1996 NBA Draft and rolled the dice on Kobe Bryant?