The Big Three: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and the Rebirth of the Boston Celtics
by Michael Holley
Published by Hachette Books on October 27, 2020
NBA // Non-Fiction // Celtics
There are 2 types of NBA books: stories and individuals and moments before you became a fan (history) and stories and individuals and moments you witnessed as a fan (experience).
I experienced Boston’s Big Three. And thanks to this freshtastic NBA book The Big Three: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and the Rebirth of the Boston Celtics I got to better understand what it was that I witnessed and experienced.
On July 31, 2007, the Boston Celtics traded for Kevin Garnett to solidify their Big Three and reboot the “super team” era of the NBA. I wanna go back to that time not via a DeLorean or a Hot Tub Time Machine but with a book: The Big Three: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and the Rebirth of the Boston Celtics.
Written by Boston sportswriter Michael Holley; The Big Three is his 7th book having previously written about Brady, Belichick, Red Sox…but this is his first NBA book. I really dug it; I hadn’t understood what happened to Rondo with the Celtics nor did I fully grasp how the Big 3 came together until I read this saga.
Michael Holley is a man with a Christian faith and that faith makes him an ideal sports writer.
Whether you go to church or not: sports is all about faith. Faith the GM will draft the right player or faith the owners hire the best coach.
Everyone who has seen a last minute shot go up relates to prayer: the way you hold your breath and just will that ball into the hoop.
Or the murmured prayers when a key player twists their ankle or bangs their knee: please God let it be okay…I hope it’s not bad.
Hope. Every season starts with promise and potential for future glory like a Christian expecting heaven.
And of course redemption. When Kevin Garnett was traded to Boston that was his redemption. The Celtics saved Kevin Garnett.
(Loyalty is an interesting trait in the NBA. I often felt Garnett was too loyal to the T-Wolves. He shoulda left earlier. We even saw that one Lakers team with Karl Malone and Gary Patton right? They left their teams because loyalty was short changing them.
Garnett was frustrated from 2004–2007; he was drafted in 1995. It’s an interesting subplot to Michael’s NBA book The Big Three: Paul Pierce.
As a Boston sports writer he’s written about Tom Brady yet Tom Brady left New England. Paul Pierce granted he was traded yet he left Boston. When Kobe retired in 2016 part of his legacy was he played for only 1 team. That is a long hard marriage: the Lakers and Kobe kept their promises as recited on Draft Night. I suspect Curry will do the same with the Warriors. Of course that circles us back to faith, doesn’t it?)
As an analogy spiritual faith mirrors the passion and joy fans have for their NBA team. And yet for all the hope and faith and prayers—answered and unanswered—for all the preaching and teaching; the burden of prophecy and the weight of legacy: sometimes a team needs a miracle. Or two. Or three.
My favourite moment from the book:
Miracles are spiritual surprise parties and in sports miracles are so uplifting.
Page 162: “The Lakers weren’t having any of those problems when the Celtics visited. They were the defending champions, and now, at 42–13, they were the popular choice to return to the finals for the third straight year. Rivers agreed with that assessment.
He also wanted the Celtics to believe that they’d be playing them, and he had an idea to illustrate it. He asked everyone in the team’s traveling party to give him $100. Garnett, who’d made more money than all of them in his career, was initially resistant. He asked Rivers what he was getting at. When the coach told him the purpose, Garnett was not only willing to chip in his own $100; he offered to pay for several others.
The intention was to collect some cash and hide it inside the visiting locker room at Staples Center in LA. Rivers selected assistant coach Kevin Eastman for the job of climbing up to the level of the ceiling panels, removing one, and placing a $2,600 envelope where no one would look for it. The Celtics weren’t scheduled to play the Lakers again in the regular season. Which is what Rivers’s point was: We’ll see the money when we return here for the finals. It was an idea, bold and steeped in intrigue, that stuck with the players. If Rivers believed it, they thought, maybe he was crazy enough to be right.”
And the way it all happened in this book The Big Three first with the Celtics being sold, new owners…right up to the trades to assemble the championship winning team really was a miracle.
Outstanding NBA book.
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