For almost every Celtics fan in existence, just hearing the name Rick Pitino will cause them to fill with rage. This is especially true if you're around my age and weren't really alive for any of the previous golden years with this franchise. Just thinking about what that asshole did to the team I love while he was here for 3.5 seasons still makes my blood boil. But since we're all in the mood to talk about the late 90s after watching the first two episodes of the MJ doc last night, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to relive a moment that Rick Pitino actually didn't fuck up. Now maybe it was more Jordan's doing than Pitino's but it's crazy to think how different the Celtics history might look had this one transaction actually happened.
I'm of course talking about the predraft trade with Scottie Pippen. You may remember the 1997 draft as the year David Stern pulled some shady shit and robbed a 15 win team of Tim Duncan. Basically took the possibility of becoming another dynasty right from their hands. When it was all said and done the Celts had the #3 and #6 pick but remember they were dogshit so of course Pitino was willing to listen to offers since he only came to Boston in the first place to coach Duncan. As it was reported, there were two scenarios in which the Bulls and Celts might have been able to pull off a draft day deal to bring Pippen to Boston
1. Trade #3 and #6 for Pippen and Luc Longley
2. Antoine or Eric Williams plus #3 for
Now we obviously have to mention that despite this trade idea getting killed, that dickhead Pitino still traded Chauncey Billups who was taken at 3 just 51 games into his Celtics career. Ron Mercer would soon follow in 1999 so they could get back Eric Williams and a 2001 1st that ultimately became Kedrick Brown. Christ, I'm getting upset all over again. But let's say that trade actually went down, what does it mean for the Celtics future?
Hate to break it to you, but they most definitely still stink. In fact, they might have stunk to a degree that would have robbed us of one of the greatest Celtics of all time. You see that 1997-98 team won 36 games and finished with the 10th overall pick in the 1998 Draft. What happened that year?
What if they had been even worse, resulting in a higher pick? They already had Kenny Anderson so chances are they aren't taking White Chocolate who went 7th or Mike Bibby who went 2nd. Maybe they fall into Raef LaFrentz or something? There's always Vince Carter who went 5th so that's not so bad, but chances are they'd get screwed and end up with like Tractor Traylor or some shit. The Celtics never benefit from Pierce falling to 10 and one of the best Celtics to ever live, my generation's Larry Bird, most likely doesn't happen. That means no Big 3, no championship, no nothing.
I'm always down for a good NBA "what if", but I couldn't be more thankful that this one never happened. The 90s were tough enough for us Celtics fans to endure, potentially missing out on Paul Pierce would have been too much.