It’s hard to believe this now, but Danny Ainge was at one time one of the most hated general managers in the league when he traded away fan favourite Antoine Walker to the Dallas Mavericks.
It’s not like Celtic fans didn’t want him gone.
But it’s like having your first car, except the car never really functions at full performance although it’s capable of it, and on top of that it costs you a lot of money. Then your new stepdad comes in and helps you find a buyer.
For a long time, Walker was all Boston had, and the fans knew damn well that was definitely better than nothing. And now you’re forced to watch another team deal with the same frustrations.
Maybe that was a bad analogy, so to be clear, what was once the only bright light in a dark time for Boston was gone as Antoine Walker alongside Tony Delk were traded for a disappointing Raef LaFrentz, the often injured Chris Mills, the unproven Jiri Welsch and the Mavericks’ first-round draft pick in 2004, which only became Delonte West.
Walker responded publicly saying it was personal stating, “Danny wanted to get rid of me,” and “he was trying to put me in a situation where he didn’t want me to succeed.”
Clouded by past nostalgia and a currently diminishing roster, Boston fans were mad. It didn’t help that because of ‘personality conflicts’ with head coach Jim O’Brien, mostly relating to the trading of Antonie Walker, the coach for over three seasons stepped down from his position.
O’Brien had taken the Celtics out of the grave and made them relevant faster than anyone expected, but this was Boston fans’ worst nightmare – instead of having two superstars and an average supporting cast, it seemed all they had was Paul Pierce. Ainge wanted a younger team with more offence. O’Brien relied on veterans and defence and cared more about the current season’s record.
O’Brien’s assistant John Carroll took over as interim coach but things only got worse before they got better. Paul Pierce alongside Marc Blount, Marcus Banks, Walter McCarty, a rookie Kendrick Perkins and Ricky Davis (who was behind Pierce in points per game for the team with only 14) finished the season 36-46 and only 14-22 under Carroll.
The Truth, for the first time in his career, was all alone.
Scraping the eighth spot, Pierce, the only all-star on his team by a mile, took his team to an onslaught led by the avenging Indiana Pacers, who had former Celtic Kenny Anderson coming off the bench. The Celtics were blown out every game.
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